“Getting to know our new CEO”
It is a great privilege to lead WayAhead, an organisation with a rich history and 90-year legacy. I am very excited to be part of an organisation that creates social change by continuing to break down barriers, stigma, and discrimination so that people can be empowered to access mental health services. WayAhead plays such an important role in health promotion and prevention.
Over the last three decades, I’ve worked in a range of mental health services with carers and people with lived experience. My professional career has included roles that enhance social, economic and community participation while improving wellbeing. My experience lies in programs such as Partners in Recovery, Personal Helpers and Mentoring Program, and the Personal Support Program. Within early intervention, I have worked with staff in Family Mental Health Support Services to improve mental health outcomes for children and young people. My work with carers spans several roles including Carers NSW and Autism Spectrum Australia.
As a leader, I have 20 years of experience under my belt, with my most recent role being on the Executive Team at Interrelate for almost nine years. Interrelate provides services that support families and individuals, many with complex needs, including mental-ill health. I worked in operations, business development, social enterprise, marketing, research, and service design.
Having trained as a Social Worker, I have a strong sense of social justice. After spending time in State and Local Government over the last 20 years, I have made the leap to non-profits to follow my passion in the field. In 2003, I completed a Masters in Community Management at the University of Technology Sydney specialising in non-profit management. After serving on the Boards of non-profits ranging from education, advocacy, aged care, disability, and animal welfare, I expanded my governance knowledge and became inspired by the innovation and agility that the non-profits world provides.
Most recently, I completed the Graduate Diploma in Social Impact (UNSW) through a scholarship. As well as this, I’ve continued building my skills in social impact measurement as I believe it is critical to measure the impact of our work. This allows for incredible improvement, which I am a huge proponent of.
Despite many years of professional experience, I believe it is my lived experience that has deepened my understanding and empathy the most. My youngest daughter was 10 when anxiety started impacting her life. At the time, I found there were very long waiting lists for the few psychologists who would see children. As a result, I embarked upon an advocacy campaign for headspace to be funded in Northern Sydney and went on to Chair headspace Chatswood for five years. It was an amazing learning experience, particularly working alongside the youth advisory group. As someone who experienced panic attacks as a child (and sometimes in adulthood), I found I could really connect with the experiences of young people.
My oldest daughter, Amber, is a remarkable young woman who inspires me every day and lives with Schizophrenia. Through her experience, I’ve had the chance to learn a lot about mental health and when I look at what she has achieved, I am filled with hope. Amber is doing what she loves, such as riding her horse Sam, walking her border collie Cookie, creating beautiful ceramics at art class, catching up with friends, and cooking her favourite
dishes. I have and continue to be an advocate for Amber with the NDIS and public mental health system and now look forward for doing the same for more people through WayAhead.
I am proud to be part of the next phase for WayAhead. As an organisation, we have always been agile and responsive to changing community needs, with the drive to learn, innovate, and grow. I look forward to working with the WayAhead Board, staff, and volunteers to continue to have an impact and voice in the mental health sector.