Frances Tsakonas was born and raised Australia where she completed her primary and secondary education. She is a graduate of Harvard University, Graduate School of Education where she undertook advanced Post-Master’s (MPhil) specialist studies in Teaching, Curriculum and Learning Environments for Early Childhood and Primary Education. She has also participated in two Executive programs at Harvard University – one at the Graduate School of Education in the Management of Lifelong Learning and one at JFK School of Government in Public Sector Administration. Frances holds a Cambridge University/Royal Society of Arts Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and a Master of Education degree in Special Education and Bilingual/Multicultural (Inclusive) Education from Lesley University in Cambridge Massachusetts, USA. Frances also holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Institutional Management and Change in Higher Education from CHEPS (Center for Higher Education Policy Studies) at the University of Twente, Netherlands, and a Doctor of Philosophy in International Education and Internationalisation Strategies from the Institute of Education, University of London, UK. Dr. Tsakonas was recently awarded a Mastère Spécialisé degree in Consulting and Coaching for Change at HEC Paris/Oxford Said Business School, and is currently completing a Master’s level Diploma in Strategy and Innovation also at Oxford University Said Business School.
Dr. Tsakonas has worked at all levels of both the public and private education/training sectors for over 35 years and has acquired significant experience in education/training management, strategic planning and development. From 1994 to 2004, Dr. Tsakonas served as Special Advisor for Education to the Hellenic Minister of Education (1994-1996) and Hellenic Minister of Foreign Affairs (1996-2004), George Papandreou, to assist him in efforts to reform the education system of Greece and to refocus Greece’s bilateral and multi-lateral education policy for educational expansion and strategic regional and international development. In 1999, Dr. Tsakonas was appointed Hellenic Representative to the Education Task Force of the Stability Pact for the Reconstruction of South East Europe. In this role, she was called upon to: investigate and analyze international best practices in education/training; prepare policy papers on behalf of the Minister for presentation at ministerial meetings (at national, regional and international level); attend high-level (EU, World Bank, UN, OECD) meetings, task forces and committee meetings on education, training and lifelong learning policy goals and objectives; disseminate information on research funding, institutional partnership potential and development needs; prepare public communication briefings on EU and UN development goals; organize seminars; draft consultation papers; initiate and manage a wide range of projects and activities to strengthen bilateral and multilateral relations with governments, businesses and international agencies; and design, manage and co-ordinate high-level meetings, workshops, conferences and task-forces.
Her confidence in this area moreover, has provided her with the necessary ease to liaise comfortably with: Ministers and senior government officials from around the world; Presidents, Rectors and ViceChancellors of education institutions internationally; Directors and General Secretaries of international educational agencies (such as the World Bank, ETF, OECD, UN agencies, etc); and CEO’s of national and multi-national business corporations. Her skill in international strategic development for academic, research and commercialization has been acquired through many years of negotiating cross-border and cross-cultural higher education institutional and programmatic partnerships and collaborations (including: franchise/licensing agreements, joint-ventures and articulation agreements, government contractual arrangements, memoranda of understanding). Dr. Tsakonas has planned, designed and managed a wide range of projects in support of education/training collaborative partnerships (in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, EU, Middle East, Balkans, Southern Mediterranean, North Africa, Arabian Gulf region and India) that have required resourcing, fund-raising and sponsorship as the basis for such project development and implementation. In 2000, due to the pressing need for education reform in developing countries/transition economies, Dr. Tsakonas established a not-for-profit educational foundation, Educational Development and Co-operation (EDCO), focusing on the promotion, facilitation and implementation of national, regional and international education and training strategic goals in developing countries. EDCO has undertaken several World Bank projects including: a study of Lifelong Learning in the Global Knowledge Economy; Education Improvement Project in Lithuania; and capacity building projects in Turkey, Mongolia, Afghanistan, India, the Caribbean and Africa.
Dr. Tsakonas recently established the International Institute for Education Advancement (IIEA), a platform for education experts, and the International Society of Change Leaders (ISCL), a platform for change leaders. Each has three division – networking and membership, consulting and development, and education and advancement. Five of the key projects of IIEA and ISCL are: the Young Visionaries Academy in collaboration with the University of Cambridge, the University Leaders Symposium, and SIG Executive Education, summer executive education programs on the Greek islands in collaboration with INSEAD and other top academic partners, the Executive Coaching Institute in collaboration with UCBerkeley, and the Institute for Diversity & Inclusion, in collaboration with the European Institute for Managing Diversity. The IIEA also hosts The Global Online Academy and is developing an accreditation agency, UNECIA, for international education providers, along with an International Scholarship Lottery and a Doctorate Coaching service.
Key skills and competencies include:
- In-depth knowledge and understanding of global trends in education and training; youth and employment; enterprise development; international fund-raising
- In-depth knowledge and experience in quality assurance, accreditation and validation systems and processes; program design and development; competency-based training; systems reform
- In-depth knowledge and experience of open and distance learning
- Extensive experience in education/training project resourcing, fundraising and sponsorship
- Extensive experience in compiling and representing research, analyzing data, policy drafting
- In-depth knowledge and experience in improving education outcomes and quality assurance
- Extensive experience in monitoring and evaluation processes and procedures
- Extensive experience in promoting innovative financing mechanisms for higher/tertiary education
- In-depth knowledge and experience in quality improvement and teacher- education/training.
- Extensive experience in education decentralization and community mobilization
- Building and negotiating national, regional and international higher education partnerships
- Corporate management, monitoring and quality assurance of education operations
- Ability to work independently, in a team, and in fast-paced, multi-disciplinary environments
- High-level interpersonal, communication, leadership and negotiation skills