Meet the Team

Empowering the autistic and autism communities through services and support, education and information

National Office

Dane

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.
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Shreya Joshi

National Business Manager
Shreya is new to the team! We'll have a full bio up shortly.
Larah

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.
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Kirsti Whalen-Stickley

Communications Advisor
Kirsti is new to the team! We'll have a full bio up shortly.
Audrey Wood

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.
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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

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

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

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

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

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

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.
Sam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.
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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.
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Bridget Carter

National Educator
Bridget is new to the team! We'll have a full bio up shortly.

Early Steps Team

Neil

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

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

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

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.
Mikayo

Makiyo Needham

Early Intervention Coordinator
Makiyo is new to the team! We'll have a full bio up shortly.