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, Marketing & Development

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

Lauren Burgess | Office Manager & Executive Assistant

Lauren brings over 20 years of experience as a professional administrator and EA having worked in the property industry within community, commercial and retail sectors. Lauren’s most recent role was EA and team administrator within the assets & growth group at Hume Community Housing. Lauren has experience working in the property industry for over 10 years before taking on a role for a Not-For-Profit organisation 7 years ago at a Community Housing Provider in Western Sydney. Lauren has a passion in working for an organisation that creates positive social impact and gives back to the community.

Nina Bauer | Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Nina joined Youth Insearch in April 2022 as Marketing & Communications Coordinator. She is committed to driving awareness and action around youth mental health. She is responsible for the implementation, maintenance and execution of the core marketing and communications functions. Nina holds a degree in Commerce from the University of Sydney, with a double major in Marketing and Music.

Sam Shlansky | Grants & Tenders Manager

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 & Compliance Manager

Stephanie joined Youth Insearch in 2018 and is responsible for maintaining and improving our computer systems. Steph also provides consulting assistance to system users, produces technical guidelines, and maintains the organisations document management system. Steph values curiosity-led learning and has acquired core skills in systems analysis, supporting businesses to develop their processes and apply technology. Steph holds a Diploma of Business Administration and has a corporate background having previously worked at Origin Energy & Macquarie Group.

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 & 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.

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.

Mark Dalman | Social Worker, Bundaberg QLD

Mark joined Youth Insearch in June 2022 as Social Worker. Prior to this role, Mark has worked as NDIS Support Coordinator and Youth Support Worker. He is currently based at Headspace Bundaberg and will be visiting a couple of schools in the area in a weekly basis. Mark holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts, and a Master of Social Work. Mark is passionate about strengths-based and person-centred approach to achieve positive outcomes in young people’s lives.

Gursimran Kaur | Social Worker, Dalby QLD

I am a social worker and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Arts and master’s degree in Social Work. I also did a diploma in General Nursing Midwifery and have an extensive work history in the nursing field where I worked as a clinical nurse for a not-for-profit hospital. I believe that nursing work experience is my biggest strength as it has enhanced my understanding of my clients and enables me to relate to their unique concerns and circumstances. I am passionate about helping people to understand the power of believing in themselves and providing the necessary support to achieve their desired goals. In my social work career, I strive to learn and pay back through my working skills and ethics of being a social worker. I have lived experience navigating difficult challenges in life and I am passionate about helping our youth do the same.

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.

Kiona O'Neill | Social Worker, Gunnedah & Narrabri NSW

Kiona joined Youth Insearch in August 2022 as a Youth Social Worker based in Gunnedah and Narrabri. Kiona has a bachelor’s degree in social work and has six years of work experience in the field. Kiona has worked with communities through roles in the department of education, out of home care, youth drug and alcohol services and Aboriginal cultural organisations. Kiona believes it is important to work with young people as they are the next generation to become leaders and make change in their lives as well as others. Kiona is passionate about helping others reach their full potential in all areas of their life.

Vina Joy Puddunan | Social Worker, Armidale & Glenn Innes NSW

Vina Joy Puddunan joined Youth Insearch in August 2022 as a social worker based in Armidale and Glen Innes. Vina will be working in partnership with community organizations such as Joblink Plus, Children’s Court, and the Council in supporting at-risk young people to improve their mental health, well-being, and connection to the community. Prior to becoming a social worker, Vina worked as an English teacher in her home country, the Philippines, and as an Aged Care Leisure and Lifestyle Officer in Armidale. Also, Vina had her Social Work placements in a school as a school social worker and in a mental health private practice as a mental health social worker. Vina holds a degree in Bachelor of Education (Secondary) and Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying). Vina’s approaches to working with youth are Person-centred Approach, Strength-based Approach, and Principles of Trauma-informed Care. Vina believes that every person is unique and has their inherent strengths, capabilities, and skills that enable them to strive and grow amidst their conditions, life trials, and difficulties if provided the appropriate support, guidance, advice, and services they need.

Leigh Foord | Social Worker, Tamworth NSW

Leigh first became involved with Youth Insearch in 2015/2016 volunteering as a Support Adult and has gone on to join Youth Insearch in August 2022, as a Social Worker in Tamworth. Leigh has over 10 year’s experience working in the Community Services Sector with a Bachelor of Social Work which she completed in 2014. Leigh has extensive involvement in different areas ranging from Youth/General Homelessness, Domestic Violence Crisis Response, Community Development and Out of Home Care. Leigh has applied her knowledge to assist and support young people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds with a commitment to make a sustainable long-term difference. Leigh is committed to making a positive lasting difference within her community and is passionate in supporting Young People to reach their full potential.

David Driels | Social Worker, Vincentia NSW

My name is David Driels and I am a 29 year old Social Worker based in Ulladulla. I have previous experience within the industry as a youth homelessness caseworker, child protection caseworker and more recently as a mental health clinician as a part of a suicide prevention outreach team. I’m passionate about community development and working with young people. In my spare time I’m usually surfing, walking the dogs or gardening.

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.

Liz Coward | Youth Outreach Worker, East Gippsland VIC

I’m Liz Coward, the Youth Outreach Worker in East Gippsland. I grew up in the small community of Tambo Upper. I moved to Latrobe Valley at 18 and returned to East Gippsland in 2021. I’m excited to be back in East Gippsland and even more excited about working for Youth Insearch. Most of my career I’ve spent working with young people and their families. I’ve led on camps and Bible studies. I worked with families at Anglicare. I became a school chaplain at Kurnai College, working for Fusion. I’ve worked for Berry Street work ready programs. I worked for headspace in their initial stages and I went back to chaplaincy, this time at Traralgon College. My formal qualifications are: A Bachelor of Social Welfare, Bachelor of Arts (Humanities & Social Sciences), Cert 4 Christian Ministry (Chaplaincy) and Cert 3 Youth & Community Work (Christian).