Meet the Team Empowering the autistic and autism communities through services and support, education and information National Office Dane Dougan Chief Executive I have been the Autism New Zealand Chief Executive since 2013. I have an undergraduate in Accounting and Commercial Law and Masters in Management Studies. It is a privilege to work for such an amazing organisation and the community we seek to serve. Larah van der Meer National Research and Advocacy Manager National Research and Advocacy Manager | Wellington - I have a PhD specialising in autism. My role includes research, advocacy and service development to improve support systems for the autistic and autism communities. Audrey Wood Business Support Administrator Business Support Administrator | Wellington - I started with Autism NZ in October of 2019. I’m originally from Canada and have a background in administration and IT from various private sectors. Julie Fulbrook Accountant Accountant | Wellington - I started in this role on the 6th January 2020. I’m responsible for the processing of National Office and branch financial accounts and have worked in not-for-profit organisations for over 14 years. Lee Patrick Research & Advocacy Advisor I started working for Autism NZ in 2020. I am autistic, and use my lived experience as well as my academic background in Psychology and Education in my dual roles as Communications Advisor and Research & Advocacy Advisor. Amanda August National Business Manager I started in this new role in June 2017. My responsibilities include operational and financial management. I am a Chartered Accountant and have almost 10 years experience in the commercial and not-for-profit sectors in New Zealand and overseas. Lucy Anbalagan Communication Manager I have a professional background in public relations after studying psychology and communications at university. I started this role in 2022 and am excited to spread the word about the amazing mahi that Autism New Zealand do. Outreach Team Karen Lonergan National Outreach Manager Tamatekapua te tupunaTe Arawa te wakaTe Arawa/Ngati Tuwharetoa nga iwi.I have worked as Manager in the disability sector for 34 years for a variety of organisations across the country and have been with Autism New Zealand since 2010. Bronwyn Barnett Employment Support Faciliator Employment Support Facilitator | Auckland - I have been an Employment Facilitator for 11.5 years and began working with Autism NZ in June. This is a role I love and although challenging at times, it is very heartening to see the faces of people I am working with getting a ‘yes’ from an employer. Megan McNeice Neurodiversity Employment Advisor Employment Support Facilitator | Wellington - I started working with Autism New Zealand in September 2020. I have worked previously in various roles supporting the autism community. Kirsty Walsh Information and Support Coordinator I joined Autism New Zealand in August 2017 and work out of the National office in Wellington. I’m responsible for grant applications and accountabilities, HR administration, Payroll, Health and Safety and general office administration to support all the branches. Samantha Mayall Outreach and LEGO Coordinator Outreach and LEGO Coordinator | Waikato - I have been working for Autism NZ since the start of 2016 as LEGO Coordinator and Outreach Coordinator in the Waikato. Before this, I was a volunteer in our LEGO Groups. Joelle Walker Autism Connect Outreach Coordinator Outreach Coordinator | Waikato - I started at Autism New Zealand as the Holiday Programme Coordinator from 2014 to 2017. For several years I was a High School Teacher of English and Drama and continue to teach Drama to school aged children and youth. Janine Parsons-Eade Outreach Coordinator Outreach Coordinator | Bay of Plenty - I joined Autism NZ in 2019 and look forward to meeting and working with individuals, families and organisations to support them in their present and future journeys. My 12-year old son is diagnosed with autism and I used to be an early childhood educator. Nicole West Outreach Coordinator Outreach Coordinator | Gisborne - I grew up in Gisborne and am the mother of three teenage sons. My eldest is on the spectrum. I have two-part time positions: Outreach Coordinator for Autism New Zealand and Coordinator for Growing Through Grief Eastland. I love gardening and yoga. Bridget Pasefika Outreach and LEGO Coordinator Outreach Coordinator and LEGO Coordinator | Taranaki - I started my role in 2014. I give information, advocate for families and individuals and generally support wherever it is needed including school, home, healthcare, workplace and community…Every Step Together. Sharon Oliver Outreach Coordinator Outreach Coordinator | Otago -I started with Autism New Zealand in 2002. I like to help parents navigate this path called Autism Spectrum, as I too am on this path. I try to help parents through pathways they need to travel and provide a listening ear from someone who understands. Wendy Jenkins Outreach Coordinator Outreach Coordinator | Southland -I've worked for Autism New Zealand since 2012. I have three sons and one is diagnosed with ASD. I am passionate about providing support and advocacy on behalf of all individuals and families with an ASD and knowing that I have made a positive difference. Denise Hughes Transition Support Facilitator Although I am new to the disability sector, I have worked in education for 16 years and have family members who are neurodiverse. I am responsible for Transition Services in Schools and the Employment Services in Schools pilot programmes in Auckland. Trish Lightfoot Lego Coordinator I started with Autism New Zealand in September 2021 as the Lego coordinator, for Canterbury. I’m a mother with a 29yr son. I’ve been involved in the community work for about 20yrs such as Bluelight Canterbury Kiwanis Graffiti Programme doing Snap and Send & Solve. I volunteer at Harakeke Linwood helping with the members with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Chanelle Moriah Autistic Advisor Chanelle is an author and illustrator with a passion for educating, encouraging and empowering people to create inclusive and understanding spaces for neurodivergent individuals. Chanelle has been diagnosed as autistic with ADHD. Siti Aisyah (Aisyah) Employment Support Facilitator and Outreach Coordinator I joined Autism NZ in August 2022. I am originally from Indonesia and migrated to NZ in 2013. I have previously worked at special need school as a teacher aide for 4.5 years with autistic students. I love art, home making, gardening and bush walking with my friends in my spare time. Sarah Davies Outreach Coordinator I joined the Autism NZ team in 2022. I was previously in a role supporting Autistic teens and late- diagnosed adults. I have personal experience with autism being autistic myself and raising neurodivergent children. Being able to give back to the autistic community and provide support to individuals and families along their autism journey is incredibly fulfilling. Kathryn Scott Outreach Coordinator I was born and raised in Hawkes Bay and am now raising my own family here. I have been working and studying in the education sector and I am excited to work with individuals, families and organisations within the autism community. Alta Sacra Outreach Coordinator Originally from the US, I joined the Autism NZ whānau in 2022. I have a background in Business and Education, with a shift to non-profit health and disability sector roles in more recent years. Before this, I worked as a peer mental health advocate and support worker. However, my child and I are both Autistic and I am enjoying providing Autism-specific information and support to people on a similar journey. Dayna Morris Outreach Coordinator Started with Autism Nz July 2022. I am mum to two daughters my eldest is diagnosed with ASD. I am looking forward to meeting new families, individuals, and organisation’s to be able to support them as best as I can on their autistic journey. My Previous background of Hairdressing/managing for the last 20plus years has taught me about building relationship’s and having a good listening ear. Leah Tamasese Outreach Coordinator & Youth and Adult Support Facilitator I became part of the Autism NZ team in September 2022 but have worked in the social sector most of my adult life. Having grown up with a brother with ASD, I want to help make the world a better place for others like him and their families. Education Team Tanya Blakey National Educator National Educator | Auckland - I have two teenage daughters, one of whom is on the Autism Spectrum.I've been jointly involved developing the education programmes and enjoy travelling the country presenting them with unique lived experience and humour since 2011. Jo Charman National Educator National Educator | Auckland - I’ve started at Autism New Zealand in 2011, first as an Outreach Coordinator and now as an Educator. I am also a parent of a child with ASD.I like to bring a practical and humorous approach to presentations from a personal and professional perspective. Jenny Woodfield National Educator Before joining Autism New Zealand in 2017, Jenny was SENCO at a primary school working children with Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) funding. Her passion for sharing her knowledge of autism, both from a teaching perspective and through parenting, enables her to understand and motivate those living with autism as well as the people who support them. Moira Chisholm National Educator National Educator | Christchurch - I am a fully registered teacher with over 40 years teaching in NZ primary schools. As well as a full-time classroom teacher, I was a DP and SENCO. Throughout my career I have developed a passion for student well-being. Leonie Fraser National Education Manager My background includes Youth and Adult Education, new course development and project management. It’s a privilege to be working with our dedicated education team to understand and meet the needs of our wonderful Autistic community as well as contributing towards wider understanding of Autism within society. Monique Parkin Education Coordinator I joined Autism NZ in January 2022. I have recently completed my Bachelor’s degree in Education and Psychology and have experience teaching neurodivergent children in my previous occupation. I am happy to be part of Autism New Zealand by supporting autistic people, parents/families/whānau, and professionals through our education programmes and services. Josie Glamuzina National Educator Before joining Autism New Zealand in 2022, Josie worked in the UK delivering programmes of support to children and young people with a diagnosis of ASD within a range of inclusive early years, school and home settings. Josie values the importance of sharing her knowledge with others; her aim is to proactively work with professionals across settings to ensure a consistent, meaningful and supportive approach to maximise a person’s learning potential and lifelong happiness. Jo Sutton National Educator Jo has always worked with kids & families… as a youth leader, counsellor, coach and in recent years with Scouts NZ. She is mum to three children, one of whom is autistic. Jo is passionate about supporting autistic tamariki and their whanau to live their best lives. Early Steps Team Maria Sanchez Parent Coach I started working for AUTISM NZ in 2021. I like to support families and individuals with their journeys. I have personal experience with my son being Autistic. I provide support in both Spanish and English. Neil Stuart Early Intervention Educator Early Intervention Educator | Auckland - I over 20 years experience working with children with autism. I have worked at Autism New Zealand since 2011 developing a large number of education and training programmes. Thecla Moffat Early Intervention Manager Early Intervention Manager | Auckland - Ko Nyamarombe tōku maungaKo Mwarazi tōku awaKo Karanga/Manyika tōku iwiSince 1992, I have taught in the early years education for 20 years, lectured in the Bachelor of Teaching ECE for four years. I have worked in early intervention since 2015. Frian Wadia Early Intervention Specialist Early Intervention Specialist | Auckland - Frian is an Early Intervention Specialist and mum to 3 boys who are differently abled. She was a ECE teacher for over 15 years, & is a passionate advocate for inclusive education, disabled children’s rights, creating systemic change across the education sector, & empowering whānau. Makiyo Needham Early Intervention Coordinator Makiyo is new to the team! We'll have a full bio up shortly. Heather Hall Let's Play Coordinator I started this new role in June 2022. With my administrative background, I enjoy supporting our dedicated Let’s Play Team. I am a mum to a daughter and son in their 20’s, both diagnosed with autism. Rachael Stent Play Educator and Early Intervention Specialist My name is Rachael. I am an early intervention teacher and a play educator for out lets play programme. I have a Bachelor of Teaching (primary) and graduate diploma in ECE at the university of Waikato. I recently completed a Postgraduate diploma in early intervention through Canterbury University. I have been privileged to work in a variety of educational settings including both primary and ECE. I am a mother of a beautiful neurodivergent daughter who inspired my love of creating educational change for our akonga who learn in diverse ways. I am passionate about supporting children to reach their full potential by drawing on their unique interests, talents and strengths. I enjoy working in partnership with whanau to support the aspirations they have for their children in supporting their learning and development.