ACE principal passes on the baton

Former Olympic sprinter and Commonwealth Games silver medallist Kerry Johnson (pictured) has hit the ground running in her new role as principal of Adult Community Education (ACE) North Coast.

The 43-year-old former relay champion has taken the baton from long-time principal Jim Nicholls, who retired recently after 17 years at the helm.

Kerry was a member of the Australian womens gold-medal winning 4x100m relay team at the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games, where she also won silver in the 100m and 200m finals.

She recently moved from Brisbane to the Northern Rivers with her partner James Voght.

I always loved northern NSW and told my partner we should move down here. We recently bought a macadamia farm at Caniaba and had planned to move here, but not for another 12 months. When this job came up it was an opportunity too good to pass up, she said.

Kerry, who started her career as a primary school teacher, comes to ACE after three years as executive director of Recreation Training Queensland, a not-for-profit industry training organisation, and has worked over the years in many coaching, health promotion and sports administration roles around Australia.

The combination that ACE offers of a community enrichment type program with qualifications under a national training system is a really good mix, Kerry said. People dont have to get qualifications, theyre doing it to enrich their lives. Last year over 9000 students were enrolled at ACE North Coast and with well over 100 tutors, trainers, specialists and administrators, it provides a lot of employment here.

Kerry said she was already impressed with the enthusiasm of staff and students.

When you go out and see what people are doing you suddenly get an appreciation of the level of commitment from students and trainers, she said. I dont think you find that in lots of places.

No longer a competing athlete, Kerry says shes happy to focus her attention on more sedate activities, and is sure their 2000 macadamia trees will keep her busy, along with the new role at ACE.

After years of training you get dulled by the thought of exercise, she said. Thats why I dont mind a good walk.

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