KS School Council
The purpose of School Councils in ESF schools is to work in conjunction with the senior management team and staff to help provide the very best education for its students. Here are the members of the KS School Council and their biographies.
Chris Geary, School Council Chairperson
Chris is an education entrepreneur, investor and non-profit leader focused on developing and scaling initiatives and technologies that lower barriers and reduce inequalities in accessing the opportunities of the Future of Work. He founded BSD Education in 2013, an educational software and curriculum provider that enables teachers in schools to teach students digital skills during their lessons. BSD has grown to work with schools around the world and has teams located in Hong Kong, Thailand, Philippines and the United States.
Chris is the founder of the Fargo Foundation and Refugeek, a non-profit social enterprise focused on creative and technology education for at-risk and displaced communities, is a Director of the Young Founders School, an educational non-profit for youth entrepreneurship education and from 2015-2021 was a School Councilor of Discovery College in Hong Kong and currently serves as Chairman of Kennedy School.
Chris has been recognised by the Enterprising Young Brits Awards (2007) the World Economic Forum (2011) and was nominated as one of the top 10 Outstanding Up and Coming Young People in Hong Kong (2018) by the Happy Life Education Foundation. Chris is a regular speaker on educational policies, technologies and future developments with engagements including WEF Davos meeting, OUP China 60th Anniversary and Pacific Basin Economic Council.
Chris attended ESF Glenealy and Bradbury schools as a child, followed by Harrow School and went on to obtain an LLB (Hons) Law from the University of Bristol.
Dr Niamh Mckeague, Director of Governance
Dr. Niamh McKeague is a qualified lawyer and holds a Doctorate in Governance from University College Dublin. Niamh is currently employed as the Director of Corporate Governance for the English Schools Foundation (ESF) in Hong Kong.
Niamh worked as a Senior Manager with the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) for over thirteen years and transitioned into her last role within GSOC in 2015 when she assumed the role of Director of Legal Affairs. In this role she was responsible for leading and managing all legal matters pertaining to the Commission’s duties and functions as a regulator. As a member of the Senior Management Team she played a key role in relation to strategic development by identifying and leading projects and litigation with significant legal and corporate implications.
Prior to assuming this position, Niamh was employed in the United Kingdom in a senior position as Force Solicitor for Northumbria Police. In this role she was responsible for representing Northumbria Police in all legal matters, including managing all criminal and civil litigation.
Niamh’s earlier roles involved working as a specialist Criminal Defence Solicitor in the Northeast of England where she qualified as a Criminal Duty Court Solicitor and accredited Police Station Representative.
Niamh currently lives in Hong Kong with her husband Rory and has two adult children.
Brenda Cook – Principal
Brenda is an enthusiastic and passionate educator who has led school leadership teams in ESF and New Zealand schools for over 20 years. Brenda joined Kennedy School as Interim Principal in August 2022 after leading Beacon Hill School as Principal since 2019 and Glenealy School (ESF) since January 2010. Brenda is a strong advocate for students and believes in educating the whole child and nurturing and developing all individuals to be the best that they can be. When leading schools, Brenda is active and visible. She builds shared understanding and purpose whilst encouraging innovation, continuous development and growth.
Coming from a large extended family, Brenda loves to interact with people and make strong and lasting connections with students and their families.
Thomas Leung, Community Representative
Thomas is a seasoned investment professional having worked for a number of multinational organizations and various well-established family offices both in the US and Hong Kong. Thomas holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. He was an Adviser for a number of MIT founded companies. He also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering degree from Washington University at St. Louis and was selected a member of the honorary society Eta Kappa Nu.
Richard Houng, Community Representative
Richard has been serving as a Community Representative since 2018, as a dad to two young children being brought up in a multilingual and multicultural family. He is a Business Strategist, Operations Executive and Technologist who held leadership positions in Securities Services, Asset Management and Management Consulting industries, across multiple countries, including the United States and Hong Kong.
Richard is currently the CEO Issuer Services – Asia of Computershare, servicing over 1100 global clients as Hong Kong listed companies. With over 20 years of experience in service delivery excellence, he is focused in providing a full range of solutions and innovations to the ever evolving challenges faced by issuers today. Richard is also the Vice-Chairman of the Federation of Share Registrars and actively involved in industry-shaping initiatives such as jointly leading the Uncertificated Securities Market workgroup with the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX).
Sky Siu, Community Representative
Ambra Debernardi, Parent Representative
Ambra is based in Hong Kong with her husband and three children, who attend West Island School and Kennedy School. With over 17 years’ experience in the insurance industry and holding an MBA from the University of Liverpool and a Masters in Chinese Studies from SOAS University of London, Ambra is the Director of Multinational Business and Broker Development in AIA Group Corporate Solutions.
Having spent 20 years in the APAC Region, Ambra brings a wealth of knowledge and insights into servicing multinational clients and international brokers based on her thorough understanding of market dynamics and clients’ requirements pertaining to employee benefits.
Proficient in English, Italian, French and Chinese Mandarin, Ambra enjoys working across multiple geographies and cultures. As part of her community engagement, Ambra is also a Member of the Italian Women Association, Women in Finance Asia (WiFA) and 100 Women in Finance (100WF), which are associations whose charitable initiatives are focused on supporting and inspiring women of all backgrounds.
Her personal mission is to empower children to be valuable members of society so that one day, they can share their personal success within a much larger network of children and shape a community that aspires to be part of a bright future.
Natasha Petit O’Connor, PTA Chair, Parent Representative
Natasha is the Chair of the PTA and has served on the committee since 2021. She sits on the Community Subcommittee within the Council and serves as the elected Kennedy School Parent Rep on the ESF Committee of Parents.
She is also Mom to a very active eight year-old boy. Originally from New York City, Natasha has also lived and worked in London and Dublin before making Hong Kong her home seven years ago. She has previously worked in the fashion/lifestyle industry and held a number of roles in business management, sales and marketing. In all of her roles, Natasha enjoys bringing people together and creating community will be her main focus as the Chair of the Kennedy School PTA.
Debbie Sheward, Teacher Representative
Originally from the South West of England, Debbie has made Hong Kong her home for the past 25 years. She has worked within ESF schools for the last 20 years as a class teacher, English Coordinator, Yearband Leader and Vice Principal. She has been a Vice Principal at Kennedy School for the past 8 years.
Debbie puts students at the heart of her leadership; firmly believing in developing confident, capable and curious learners who are engaged in learning that is stimulating, challenging and enjoyable. Her passion is developing positive relationships with everyone within the community; working with students as they grow and supporting teachers and parents to provide an environment which understands, supports and nurtures the children.
All three of her children have been part of the ESF school system. Outside work she enjoys hiking on the Hong Kong trails and travelling with her family.
Neil Scott, Teacher Representative
Rory Douglas, Teacher Representative
Rory has been working with ESF for the past 6 years, 3 at Beacon Hill School and 3 at Kennedy, as a Year 5 & 6 teacher. Before that he worked as Head of Early Years in East London, before making the move to Hong Kong. He is an ESF Centre for Research Fellow and also spends time supporting classes across the school in STEM subjects. He is father to two boys, Taigh and Ellis, who are aged 2 and 1 respectively. He has built a home here in Hong Kong with his partner Nicci and looks forward to watching his children grow up here.
Tasneem Badri, Support Staff representative
Tasneem originates from Mumbai, India and Hong Kong has been her home for 20 years.
Her husband is an ESF Alumni and all 3 of her children have been through Kennedy School.
She started at Kennedy school as a parent helper and has since held the posts of Resources Assistant, HR & Finance Assistant before moving into her current role as the Officer of HR & Accounts.
The school council:
- is accountable to the Board of Governors and also to parents and the wider community for the way it carries out its functions;
- seeks to develop effective working relationships with the principal, staff and parents; ESF management; other schools and the wider community;
- acts at all times in accordance with the requirements laid down in the Ordinance and Regulations;
- is a collective entity and acts as a group. No one councillor or category of councillors has any right to act individually except when the school council has delegated authority to do so.
The strength of a school council lies in the talents and commitment of its members, and in their ability to work together as a team for the good of the school.
The Kennedy School Council has 13 members, comprised of the following: –
- a Chairman, appointed by the Board, who is neither an employee of ESF nor the parent of a student at the School
- 3 persons from the general community who are neither employees of ESF nor parents of students at the School, appointed by the Board;
- 3 persons elected by members of the teaching staff of Kennedy School from among their own number;
- 3 parents who are not employees of ESF, one elected by the parent members of our PTA committee and two elected by the parents of the School;
- 1 person elected by the support staff of Kennedy School from among their own number;
- the Chief Executive Officer of ESF, or her appointed delegate;
- the Principal.
The Council has meetings 4 times each year.
School Council Members 2023-2024
|Chairman||Mr Chris Geary|
|Principal||Ms Brenda Cook|
|ESF ex Officio
|Ms Belinda Greer Dr Niamh Mckeague|
|Parents Representatives||Mrs Ambra Debernardi
Mrs Natasha Petit O’Connor
|Community Representatives||Mr Thomas Leung
|Teacher Representatives||Mrs Debbie Sheward
Mr Neil Scott
Mr Rory Douglas
|Support Staff Representative||Mrs Tasneem Badri|