Meet Our Team

Leonor Diaz Alcantara
Leonor Diaz AlcantaraChief Executive Officer
Leonor Diaz Alcantara, is an award-winning social enterprise entrepreneur, whose career has spanned both the private and NGO sectors. She is Chief Executive of the Montessori Group.
Karen Chetwynd
Karen ChetwyndChief Operating Officer
Karen has worked extensively in educational quality assurance, partnering with FE and HE providers to secure programme recognitions, nationally and internationally.

Work with University partners; Ofqual Awarding Organisations and National Governing Bodies led Karen to support qualifications development from Entry to Post-Graduate, overseeing curriculum design within vocational Teacher Training; Performing Arts; Health and Fitness.

Karen’s work has supported access to greater physical education within schools; widened vocational and academic transferability for Performing Arts trainees and helped specialist HEI’s prepare for DAP’s.

Following her MA (Educational Leadership & Management) Karen became a QAA Reviewer, continuing to maintain an active research interest in authentic assessment practice in vocational training and development of educational partnerships and accreditations to benefit student progression.

Preeti Patel
Preeti PatelDirector of Education
After fifteen years practice in a Montessori day-care nursery as Nursery Manager and an Early Years Educator, Preeti took on the role of Academic Placement Tutor at Montessori Centre International (MCI). She is now our Director of Education.

Preeti holds a BA (Hons) Degree, Montessori International Diploma and an Early Years Teacher Status. Preeti has been involved in Safeguarding training and has delivered many CPD training sessions to colleagues over the last few years.

Beatrice Luca
Beatrice LucaAcademic & Research Liaison
Beatrice joined the organisation in February 2021, and she currently has a liaison role, facilitating and maintaining the communication between the organisation and our research partners, in order to foster mutual understanding and cooperation. Beatrice also works closely with colleagues on the team, aiding in organising relevant field events, such as panels, conferences, roundtables and meetings.

Beatrice has a Bachelor’s Degree in Law and a Master’s Degree in Business and Commercial Law. With over 10 years of experience in the field, she worked across the private and public sector, collaborating closely with business partners and local authorities. She is also interested in psychology, having earned a certification in “Methods, Techniques of Assessment, and Psycho Diagnostics in Adults and Children Using the DSM-V System.”

Carolyn Allen
Carolyn AllenSTAR Administrator
Carolyn’s role supports the operation of the Standards & Training Accreditation Review (STAR) framework, which includes but not limited to the administration of professional standards and educational quality assurance. Compliance checks and working collaboratively with academic and professional staffing contacts are also included.

Excited to share the ethos of Montessori values and principles, Carolyn joined MCI with a view to be part of the change to spread awareness.

Dominic Smith
Dominic SmithSenior Donor & Partner Advisor
Dominic is a fundraising and partnerships specialist and after a career working for international development, education and women’s rights charities such as ActionAid and Restless Development, Dominic joined us as our Senior Donor and Partner Advisor.

Dominic specialises in building mutually aligned partnerships that advance and protect human and child rights and improves outcomes for the most marginalised. Dominic holds a degree in Biology and was nominated for the Institute of Fundraising Rising Star award in 2020.

Jelena Ribic Pavelec
Jelena Ribic PavelecPR Content Creator
Jelena is the Founder of Family Tales, a group of storytellers, writers, and child therapy experts on a mission to create a fairy tale for every child across the world. She has worked in and around media for over 8 years with experience in writing, news reporting, producing, hosting TV and Radio Shows, and being the Programme Director of multiple radio stations. Jelena is also a fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce).
Jess O'Brien
Jess O'BrienPartnerships & Accreditation Manager
Jess has worked in charities and the public sector for over 20 years – managing projects, developing partnerships and improving the quality of frontline services.

At Samaritans and Terrence Higgins Trust, Jess delivered major projects to improve services delivering person-centred emotional support. She successfully developed key partnerships for children’s services at Barnardo’s. While at Spurgeons, she delivered business improvement in services for prisoners and their young families.

Jess is committed to the values of respect, independence, curiosity and inclusion.

Joanne McIntyre
Joanne McIntyreSTAR Accreditation Administrator
With 10 years’ experience in Adult and Primary education, Jo is a qualified Tutor with a QCF recognised Education and Training qualification – with a focus on Special educational needs Support. Her training and experience in Performing Arts has led her into teaching Drama and Musical theatre in the private sector.

Jo’s passion to facilitate the best learning environment for every child, has led to her work within the Montessori group as Accreditation Assessor for the STAR Accreditation framework and Accreditation Administrator for the STAR Accreditation team.

Laura Heap
Laura HeapDigital Education Project Manager
Having worked in the classroom for 10 years, Laura moved into digital education in 2010, firstly working with the CELT team at London Metropolitan University and then starting at MCI in 2014. She project managed the set-up of online learning for MCI and developed digital Montessori content with the academic team to transform their distance learning programmes. Currently she works on the Totara learning platform, designing and developing digital education.

Laura has a distinction Masters in e-Learning Solutions and is passionate about social learning.

Maruša Stamać
Maruša StamaćEuropean Project Coordinator
Marusa is an award-winning experienced communicator and public and media relations expert. She began her career at the most famous Croatian television, Nova TV where she worked for a decade as a journalist and investigative reporter. She continues her career by starting a media consulting company where she is focused on helping her clients with media relations (strategy and campaigns) and public affairs.

In her portfolio, there is a number of public service and non-governmental projects that have an essential role in civil society. Marusa has a BA in Comparative literature and Art history from the University of Zagreb where she also got a Master’s degree in Art history, critics, and conservation. She is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Zagreb. In 2023. she graduated from the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia. She is also a vice president of the Croatian United Nations Association.

Michelle Rice
Michelle RiceSTAR Administrator
With over 20 years’ experience in International Education Recruitment, Michelle has joined our team of STAR Administrators. Previously, Michelle was a founding member of a recruitment company that specialised in bringing overseas teachers to work in the UK and was responsible for sales, recruitment, safeguarding and compliance.

Originally from Australia, Michelle holds a Bachelor of Business from Queensland University of Technology and brings a breadth of skills that will help drive excellent customer service to our most valued partnerships.

Millie James
Millie JamesSTAR Assessor, Tutor & Montessori Content Creator
Millie holds a FdA in Montessori Pedagogy, BA (Hons) in Early Childhood and MSc in Psychology, bringing to her work an in-depth knowledge of early years education, child development and seven years’ experience in Montessori education. Millie has experience as a Montessori classroom educator, Deputy Manager and Academic Tutor for Montessori Group.

Millie works with multiple colleagues across the team, supporting with STAR accreditation, the Montessori Network and co-creating academic course content.

Sidney Natuhamya
Sidney NatuhamyaCommunications Support Officer
Sidney is a digital marketing and communications professional with experience in international communications and social media marketing, with years of work in various fields including education, telecommunications and finance.

Sidney holds a Bachelor’s Degree (BA) in Commerce and Marketing, and is currently completing his professional CIMS certification, and above all, is dedicated to spreading the mission and vision of this organisation and having it clearly understood globally.

Sinéad King
Sinéad KingE-Learning & E-Support Officer
For the past 25 years, Sinéad has worked as an IT professional with a broad competency across numerous areas of Information Technology, including delivery of and facilitating product training, application testing, authoring training and operational guides, delivery of bespoke software, website & graphic design, and support for multiple enterprise and global organisations. She holds a BA (Hons) Degree in Media Practices with Travel & Tourism.

Sinéad engaged with the role of E-Learning and E-Support Officer in January 2022, which involves maintaining the organisation’s website development & deployment, and supporting the E-Learning (LMS) Platform, both of which call upon effective design & technical knowledge.

Yelena Levashina
Yelena LevashinaFinance Assistant
Yelena joined Financial Team at Montessori Group in June 2019, she is dealing with day-to-day financial transactions of the organisation, analysing and recording them into the Accounting system, and provides support in financial administration across the departments.

Yelena is a qualified Bookkeeper (QCF) with background in travel and tourism industry and international publishing field. She holds Diploma in Economics from National State Institute of Turkmenistan, Diploma in Business Studies from Stratford College London and IAB Qualification in Bookkeeping.