Our Staff | Youth Insearch

Our Staff

Our staff are the conduit that brings together the service partners, volunteers and young people, providing the Youth Insearch program that changes the lives of young Australians.

Together we have a collection of skills, experience and passion going beyond the call of duty in each of their roles.

Stephen Lewin | Chief Executive Officer

Stephen Lewin joined Youth Insearch as General Manager in December 2014 and was appointed CEO for Youth Insearch in November 2019. Stephen also brings his experience as a former Youth Insearch participant. Committed to a career creating public value, Stephen previously worked with the NSW Government for 19 years, including senior roles in accommodation and respite, community support teams and home care. He is a public-sector manager who throughout his career has delivered services to society’s most vulnerable people. Through practice and executive education, Stephen has built a reputation of implementing lasting change, through organisational culture assessment and transformation. Stephen holds an Executive MBA from the University of Wollongong and Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Management from Flinders University.

Wendy Barnert | Finance Manager

Wendy Barnert commenced with Youth Insearch as the Finance Manager in June 2018 and brings with her over 19 years’ experience working within the not-for-profit charity sector. Wendy holds a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Accounting and a sub-major in Law. Wendy also completed her Professional Year study with the Institute of Chartered Accountants (now Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand). Prior to commencing with Youth Insearch, Wendy has held roles at a top tiered financial accounting firm within the Audit Division, and at SHINE for Kids, a not-for-profit organisation that supports children with a relative in the criminal justice system. Wendy’s strengths are financial reporting and analytical skills, ensuring the organisation meets its key goal of sustainable growth to allow it to continue and support youth.

Sonia Grebenshikoff | General Manager, Development

Sonia joined Youth Insearch in November 2021 as General Manager, Development, and is passionate about helping non-profit organisations and individuals to achieve their goals, delivering strong results, and inspiring communities.

Sam Shlansky | Development Officer (Grants)

Sam Shlansky joined Youth Insearch in 2021 as Grants Development Officer. He manages our entire grant research, writing and acquittal process to ensure we sustain our impact with rural youth. Sam is an American-born community advocate, supporter and leader. For over 10 years, he has designed and delivered programs with multicultural communities in rural and urban Australia and South-East Asia. Along the way Sam has even picked up a couple of awards including the Victorian Multicultural Commission Youth Excellence Award; shortlisted Pro Bono Australia Impact 25; and nominee 7News Young Achiever Award. Sam has worked and volunteered across diverse sectors – from English teacher to Public Servant and far beyond. This range of experience is paired with a Monash University Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Indonesian and Linguistics, and an RMIT Diploma of Youth Work including over 300 hours work in crisis care, refugee integration, and youth support. Most recently he completed a Certificate in Human Centred Design with DSIL Global and UN University for Peace.

Stephanie Grant | Systems and Compliance Manager

Steph joined Youth Insearch in 2018 and is responsible for system creation and maintenance, systems training and support, reporting and promotion, and governance, risk and compliance activities associated with systems and funding obligations. Steph has a corporate background having worked at Origin Energy for 8 years - 4 years as an analyst in the Sustainability division, and 4 years as Personal Assistant within the Corporate Affairs group. Previous to this Steph worked at Macquarie Bank in the Real Estate Capital division as a Legal Team Assistant. Steph holds a Diploma of Business Administration. With a passion and natural affinity for records management, process development, and systemisation, Steph is keen to use her skills to contribute to the not for profit sector.

Nelani Botha | Administration Officer Trainee

Nelani joined Youth Insearch in February 2022 as Administration Officer Trainee. Nelani became involved with Youth Insearch as a participant in 2019 and became a Youth Insearch Leader in 2020. Nelani has facilitated weekend workshops, attended fundraising events and facilitated leaders training. Nelani is passionate about empowering young people to achieve their goals and rebuild their life the way they would like it to be. Nelani also runs her own business Tamaleki Pet Services and Supplies, looking after other peoples pets while they are away.

James Fowles | General Manager, Program Operations

James joined Youth Insearch in September 2021 as General Manager, Program Operations, leading the team delivering the Youth Insearch program. James is a qualified Social Worker with over a decade of experience in supporting community mental health programs in community, health and corporate sectors. James also has more than five years leading fundraising in non-profit sector in mental health and alcohol and other drugs services.

Sharon Schofield | Program Quality and Partnerships Manager

Sharon Schofield is the Youth Insearch Program Quality and Partnerships Manager. Sharon has worked and volunteered for Youth Insearch since 2005 where she was responsible for setting up Youth Insearch in Victoria. Sharon holds a Diploma in Community Services Work, and in 2007 completed Youth Insearch Leaders Training. Prior to coming to Youth Insearch Sharon worked in marketing, and also held the position of Personal Assistant to the Telstra Regional Manager for Victoria for 8 years. Sharon and her husband Paul run their own plastering company and have three sons and five grandchildren. Sharon currently volunteers as the Publicity Officer for the Make-A-Wish Australia Gippsland Branch, and at Youth Referral and Independent Persons Program (YRIPP) where she supports young people in Police interviews in cases where they don’t have alternative support. "I love that I am able to provide opportunities for young people to be the best that they can be, and that we believe in them until they believe in themselves again. You can't go back to the beginning to make a new start, but you can start from now and take a new path."

Leanne Hall | Clinical Lead

Leanne is a Psychologist and Therapist with over 20 years of clinical experience working with youth and their families, and joined Youth Insearch in September 2020. She has worked across a number of different health settings across public and private sectors, in clinical, teaching and management/supervisory roles. In addition, she has worked in private practice for over 15 years where she works systemically and holistically from a client centred perspective. Leanne’s approach in working with youth is strengths-based, and is heavily influenced and informed by cultural psychology, feminism and social justice. Leanne has also spent many years presenting and facilitating mental health forums to youth, for which she recently received an award for Vocational Excellence from Rotary Australia. In 2019 she was also awarded the Paul Harris Fellow from Rotary Australia for her work with youth. Leanne is also completing a PhD in Clinical Psychology at Sydney University, she is a published author and is featured as an expert on relationships, mental health & wellbeing across many mediums; including TV, editorials, print/online publications as well as podcasts.

Donna Ryan | Regional Coordinator, Wide Bay Burnett QLD

Donna started with Youth Insearch in October 2019, and is our Regional Coordinator, Wide Bay Burnett. Prior to this role, Donna has been engaged with Youth Insearch in the capacity as a Leader and Support Adult, and has facilitated many weekends workshops since becoming involved in 2016. Donna has also worked as a case manager and support worker in the social services sector for a number of years.

Alectra Hancox | Social Worker, Hervey Bay QLD

Alectra Hancox joined Youth Insearch in July 2021, as a Social Worker in Hervey Bay. Alectra has extensive experience working in the social services sector, with her most recent role as Project Officer with Primary Health Network (MHAODS). Alectra has also worked as the Queensland Health Child Safety Officer in Far North Queensland and Torres Strait Islands, in Child and Family Services within Neighbourhood Centres, as a Family/Youth Case Worker with Child Safety on Norfolk Island, and with NDIS as both a Psychosocial Transition Officer for mental health participants, and as a Behaviour Support Practitioner. Alectra’s passion lies in motivating social and emotional wellbeing, offering hope and person-centred case management, and sharing in the achievements and challenges within the Youth Insearch team.

Gordan Plains | Social Worker, Maryborough QLD

First and foremost, I am fully dedicated family father, which is my and my wife’s pride and joy. We are parents to 4 amazing children. I am known for my creative and authentic unconditional positive regard for the person. My extensive life experiences have led me to develop a high standard of professionalism and think critically and contextually in various professional settings. Hereby, I am open to discuss diverse topics. I identify as a CALD person. I am a passionate advocate for the contemporary social issues emanating from the antenatal period and infant mental health. I have experience in bereavement support, support of people with mental health issues, and as a registered NDIS service provider, I possess robust insights into the framework. I possess advanced abilities and understanding of CALD, LGBTIQA+ and ATSI issues.

Chloe Foley | Regional Coordinator, Darling Downs QLD

Chloe Foley is our Regional Coordinator, Darling Downs. Chloe first attended the Youth Insearch program as a young person in 2010, she completed Leaders Training in 2013 and has actively volunteered with Youth Insearch delivering weekend workshops, facilitating training, undertaking roles on State and National Councils and assisting with the development and implementation of the Strategic Plan. Alongside her experience with Youth Insearch, Chloe has been working in the Community Services Sector for 6 years and brings experience in managing youth programs and community development and engagement.

Khushboo Shah | Social Worker, Dalby QLD

Khushboo Shah joined Youth Insearch in January 2021 as a Social Worker in Dalby, QLD, working in partnership with Dalby State High School. Khushboo will be providing professional follow-up and support to young people and their families, and will be handling an open and participative school environment for parents and the school community. Khushboo holds a Master of Social Work from Griffith University, and a Bachelor of Economics with more than 5 years experience in corporate roles. Khushboo is passionate about bringing a change in society which was her motivation to become a Social Worker.

Heidi Davis | Social Worker, Chinchilla Tara QLD

Heidi Davis is a qualified social worker and Chinchilla local who joined Youth Insearch in February 2022, and will be working in partnership with Chinchilla State High School and Tara Shire State College, providing social work services to the area. Heidi graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) in 2021. Heidi is passionate about empowering young people to be their best, through the Youth Insearch program. As a local, Heidi is committed to working with young people and the communities of Tara and Chinchilla for positive change.

Stephanie Ervin | Social Worker, Western Sydney NSW

Stephanie Ervin joined Youth Insearch in April 2021, as Social Worker, Western Sydney, working from the Relationships Australia office in Parramatta. Stephanie will be assisting Youth Insearch to further develop their partnership with Relationships Australia through the COVID-19 Domestic and Family Violence Grant and within the organisation. Stephanie Ervin holds a Bachelor of Social Work and has worked with youth and families since 2019. Stephanie has extensive local knowledge of the Western Sydney area and a fresh view on youth and their needs.

Meg Hanlon | Regional Coordinator, New England NSW

Meg Hanlon joined our team in June 2021 as Regional Coordinator New England. Meg first became involved with Youth Insearch in 2018 volunteering as a Support Adult and in 2019 went on to complete her Leaders Training. Meg has regularly been involved in the Inverell Support Group and throughout virtual operations during the height of the 2020 COVID pandemic. Prior to commencing with Youth Insearch, Meg has been involved with the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards. Meg is passionate about empowering young people and inspiring them to dream big, and is driven to leave the world better than she found it, for everyone. Meg also enjoys writing, drawing, and travelling.

Rebecca Brewer | Youth Support Worker, New England NSW

Rebecca joined Youth Insearch in August 2019 after having been involved with Youth Insearch for many years. Bec's journey started in 2004 as a Participant, and Bec then went through to become an accredited Leader in the years that followed, and has been a regular presence at weekend workshops for over a decade.

Tony Willacy | Regional Coordinator, East Victoria

Tony joined Youth Insearch in February 2021 as Regional Coordinator in Victoria. With a passion for helping young people and bringing communities together, Tony is enthusiastic about the opportunity to help grow the opportunities for young people across East Victoria and the Youth Insearch program. Tony has experience in the youth employment sector through the Transition To Work program, supporting youth to employment or returning to studies with the long term goal of employment. Tony has also worked in various business development roles with a number of organisations and has owned his own retail business for a number of years.

Maree May | Youth Support Worker, Latrobe VIC

Maree May is started working in the community services sector after raising four children and working different jobs to fit around her family, including running her own café, with the intention to find a job that with more meaning. Maree completed a Diploma of Community Services Work. Commencing at Youth Insearch in a first year work placement. Maree loved Youth Insearch so much she stayed on as a volunteer. On completing her Diploma Maree was offered a position at Youth Insearch. Maree has been an Auswim instructor and coached junior netball.