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. Shreya Joshi National Business Manager Shreya is new to the team! We'll have a full bio up shortly. Larah van der Meer Research and Advocacy Advisor Research and Advocacy Advisor | 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. Kirsti Whalen-Stickley Communications Advisor Kirsti is new to the team! We'll have a full bio up shortly. 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. 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 Employment Support Facilitator 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. 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. 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. Kirsty Herapath 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. Carla Robinson Outreach Coordinator Outreach Coordinator | Auckland - I started as the Northern Hub Information & Support Coordinator and now the Outreach Coordinator for Auckland. I have a family member with ASD. I hope to make a positive difference and support families and individuals through their personal journeys. 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 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. Angela Lum-Keepa Outreach Coordinator Having an Autism Diagnosis, myself, the ASD community is family. Collectively opening my eyes to understanding, accepting, respecting, and loving who we are as individuals. I hope to empower others on their journeys and to support those that walk alongside them. 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. Maria Sanchez Outreach Coordinator 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. Tayla Alexander-Crawford Outreach Coordinator Outreach Coordinator | Wellington - I joined Autism New Zealand in December 2020 after completing my masters degree in educational psychology. I love connecting with those involved in the autism community, and helping support individuals and whānau. Gera Verheul Outreach Coordinator Outreach Coordinator | Nelson - I am married and mum of a teenager. I have 12 years’ experience working with the autism community in New Zealand. I am passionate about supporting people on the autism spectrum, and helping to educate all of New Zealand to celebrate neurodiversity. Debra Lord Outreach Coordinator Lego and Social Group Facilitator | Christchurch - I have personal experience with my youngest son being on the Autism spectrum and enjoy helping support people of all ages and backgrounds. I have a BA majoring in psychology. Karen Holmes Outreach Coordinator Outreach Coordinator | Christchurch - I am excited to return to Autism New Zealand after a break! I have a daughter, now a young adult on the autism spectrum. I love connecting with people, hearing their story and seeing understanding of autism grow. This makes such a difference to people’s lives. 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. 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. Philippa Ruppel Education Coordinator Education Coordinator | Wellington - I started with Autism New Zealand in October 2020. I have a background in science, research and administration. I also have a BA Sc degree in Education. Bridget Carter National Educator Bridget is new to the team! We'll have a full bio up shortly. Early Steps Team 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. Amanda Morgan Speech Language Therapist Speech Language Therapist | Auckland - I started my role with Autism NZ in 2019. Before that I worked for the Ministry of Education where I worked with many families of children with autism. I have always had a particular interest in ASD. I look forward to working with you and your family. Makiyo Needham Early Intervention Coordinator Makiyo is new to the team! We'll have a full bio up shortly.