• Home
  •  > 
  • Our Team/Work With Us

Our Team/Work With Us

Our Team

Our team is made up of qualified and skilled people who are passionate about early childhood development, supporting families and building communities. Our leadership, management, operational and program teams are highly experienced and driven by the values of respect, integrity and openness. 

At Playgroup NSW our people are at the heart of what we do. We pride ourselves on our inclusive and engaged organisational culture. We value work-life balance, are family-friendly, flexible and inclusive, which makes us an employer of choice.

Our experienced and dedicated team is comprised of staff based at the Playgroup NSW headquarters, as well as support and development staff working in the Greater Sydney and regional areas.

Supporting current and prospective Playgroup NSW members to help them establish and manage community or supported playgroups is the major focus for the majority of our team. This includes providing information and guidance to playgroups, facilitating our supported playgroup sessions and promoting early childhood development with families and professionals.

Our focus and leadership is built around quality service delivery and sees our staffing resources focused firmly on playgroup development, excellence in service delivery, member support and engagement, and continuing our business and digital transformation.

Playgroup NSW also relies on the generosity and passion of our wonderful volunteers. Our community playgroups are run by volunteer committees who dedicate their time to ensure their local playgroup thrives. 


Chief Executive Officer

Nadene Lee

Nadene holds over 15 years’ experience in senior executive roles in Australia and overseas, with commercial and not for profit national and international organisations. In addition to her role as CEO for Playgroup NSW, until recently, Nadene was Chair of an international body for one of the world’s largest addiction science-based treatment programs. 

Nadene maintains a long-term commitment to leading organisations that create positive change and equitable outcomes at scale. Through Non-Executive Director roles, Nadene has also applied influence and expertise to benefit a range of targeted programs and services for individuals and communities globally. 


Nadene has a values-based, outcomes focused leadership style, with a future focus that aligns vision and strategy with innovation an impact. Nadene holds a Master in Business Administration, Bachelor International Business and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.



Leadership Team

Mel Hill, General Manager Programs and Quality 

Mel holds a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood), from Macquarie University and has had an extensive career in not-for-profit organisations in the early childhood sector. Mel is a passionate, self-motivated professional committed to achieving strategic objectives, and has a track record in increasing the engagement and participation of marginalised children.

Mel brings to Playgroup NSW skills in building and maintaining partnerships, solid operational management experience with a focus on process, systems and implementation of strategy. Mel is a values based leader with a strong focus on collaboration and collective decision making.

Maria Cignarella  Manager,  Supported Programs in Supported Playgroup 

Maria Cignarella is an early childhood educator with over 15 years’ experience, beginning her career supervising long day care and moving into management of supported programs with Playgroup NSW. This includes the coordination and delivery of MyTime peer support and PlayConnect Playgroups for families of children with autism, developmental delays and behavioural concerns across the state of NSW.

She also takes an active role in business development for the organisation, sourcing and creating opportunities to broaden reach and additional programs and resources to support families and children in the community. She has a special interest in supporting children to reach their potential and enjoys developing strategies tailored to children’s individual needs and interests to support them in their ongoing development. This includes supporting language acquisition, behavioural support, self-regulation strategies and physical health and well-being. 

Malcolm Freame, General Manager of Finance and Operations 

Malcolm Freame is the General Manager of Finance and Operations. He has extensive experience in finance, corporate services, and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in senior management and consulting roles across a variety of industries. Malcolm is also a member of the Audit and Risk Committee for Long Service Corporation and the Mental Health Commission of NSW. He provides a blend of skills in financial management and information technology, and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand.


Malcolm lives in Sydney with his wife and two adult children.



Crystal Sun, Finance Manager

Crystal joined Playgroup NSW in 2011 with over 10 years’ experience working both in Australia and overseas as a financial professional. After 6 years in a corporate services team, Crystal was promoted to the Finance Manager role in 2017. She is overseeing the organisation’s day-to-day finance functions, providing support to management with her financial analytic skills, working with the whole Playgroup management team to ensure financial accountability across the organisation.

Crystal holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, and a Master’s degree in Applied Finance both obtained from overseas. She is now an Associated Member of CPA Australia (ASA).


Karen Spellman, Manager, People & Culture

Karen has a Bachelor of Business Studies, majoring in Human Resources (HR).Karen is a seasoned HR professional, with experience across a variety of industries from commercial to not-for-profit. She is passionate about the employee experience and supporting people to bring their best selves to work, translating it to company performance. Her key achievements have been in setting HR strategy, implementing wellbeing programs and developing a high performing and supportive culture.

Karen is most proud of her two young children (Conor aged 4 and Sinéad aged 2). She and her husband attended Playgroup NSW with both their children. As a result, she is extremely passionate about the benefits of early childhood learning and the importance of bringing families together in their community.


Program Management Team


Noni Papalia, PlayStrong Program Manager 

Noni holds a Master of Teaching (Primary) with 15 years' experience in children's programs. Noni has a background in children services and programs, including playgroups, out-of-school-hours care and the education of children aged 0-12 years. Noni is passionate about working with vulnerable families to improve educational and social outcomes for disadvantaged children. Noni manages the PlayStrong program,

offering playgroups for vulnerable families across the state of NSW.


Rebecca Pragnell, Supported Programs Manager 

Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood) and has close to 30 years experience in Community Programs including children's, youth and adult learning programs. Rebecca is passionate about working with vulnerable families to ensure all children have access to quality play experiences as well as ensuring parents are supported in their parenting journey.

Rebecca manages the MyTime , PlayConnect and Sutherland Supported Playgroup programs, offering playgroups for vulnerable families across the state of NSW.

Kellie Murray, Aboriginal Program Manager 

I am a Wiradjuri woman from Wagga Wagga and a mother to three boys. I have been in Wagga since I was born, and love working in my community. I have always been in Aboriginal community services and education roles and is a great passion of mine.  At Playgroups NSW we run Aboriginal Supported Playgroups in the Wagga community. We provide not only early education but a full holistic approach to social and emotional wellbeing for our families.  We work with a range of services who come out to our playgroups and provide not only outreach services but build connections with our families. 

We also work with our local schools to provide support and connections for our families with children who are getting ready to transition into kindergarten. 


Corporate Partnerships & Business Development

Kim Gracey, Partnerships Manager

As Partnerships Manager, Kim’s mandate is to further Playgroup NSWs positive impact on the wellbeing of its current and future families, children and communities. Kim engages and works with corporations, government, small businesses, educational institutions, and others to offer unique and collaborative partnerships and experiences that create meaningful and impactful results.

Kim has been identifying and facilitating innovative and mutually beneficial partnerships in the ‘for purpose’ space for over 11 years and has initiated, developed and implemented many purpose driven events, programs and partnerships that have been nationally recognised.


Tammy Collins, Digital Strategist 

Tammy is a seasoned marketer with 19 years experience in the Australian media industry. With a penchant for insight led marketing and content, Tammy has held executive roles with eBay, Nine Entertainment, Fairfax Media and Australian Radio Network. A cross platform specialist, Tammy is well versed in radio, digital and print media.

Tammy enjoys helping brands define and tell their story. Tammy has joined Playgroup NSW as the Digital Strategist to assist the business in their digital transformation journey and to lead the marketing function in 2020.

Maria Nguyen, Brand Manager

Maria holds a bachelor of Design, Visual communication and has extensive skills in digital marketing and graphic design. Before devoting her work to Playgroup NSW, Maria worked as the Marketing and Operations specialist in CBRE for over 5 years.

Maria is responsible for managing marketing collateral, executing and supporting the broader team with marketing and creative assets across Playgroup NSW.

Careers / Vacancies

Please see below for positions that are currently available. To be considered for these positions you MUST apply via the relevant advertisements below.



Playgroups looking for you

Click here to find out More + Featured Activities

Check out our Playgroups who are looking for families to join them.

Play Activities

Click here to find out More + Featured Activities

Children love playing with balls of all shapes and sizes. And with good reason: balls are great for group play, organised sports or just playing by yourself. They are also suitable for a variety of age groups (from babies to children and even adults).

Featured Article

Click here to find out More + Featured Activities

Mothercraft nurse, Chris Minogue, answers one of Kinderling Radio listener’s question on how to keep their child safe on the ground.

Looking for a Playgroup?

Find PlaygroupSearch Now!

Supported By