Fern Ryan – Chief Executive
Fern has worked in the community and disability support sector for over 26 years, primarily in supervisory and management roles. She also spent six years working for the Midland Needs Assessment and Service Co-ordination Agency. Fern was recruited by the Board of Trustees and joined ConneXu in September 2012, and in November 2016 she was also co-opted onto the Inclusive NZ Board.
Fern has extensive experience and qualifications in adult education, business management and human services, as well as behavioural assessment and management.
Kate Shaw – Executive Leader, Services & Development
Kate has worked in the Disability and Community Services field since 2003, upon completion of a Bachelor of Organisational Psychology and Human Resource Management. She has lead teams in the areas of Supported Employment, Community Connections and Court Ordered Community Supports.
She has also spent five years working for Disability Support Link as a Needs Assessor and Service Co-ordinator. Kate was employed by ConneXu in February 2013 and is responsible for managing the Operations and Service Delivery arms of the organisation. Kate has a passion for enabling people to live their life, their way – encouraging them to have everyday relationships and experiences that are person centred and meaningful to them.
Sharon Naylor (BMS, CA) – Executive Leader, Business & Finance
Sharon is one of those people who loves working with numbers. She has been working with ConneXu behind the scenes for a few years and thoroughly enjoys the work. Combining her passion for numbers with feeling she is part of an organisation that makes a difference is a winning combination for her.
As a Chartered Accountant, Sharon also runs her own practice, CN Chartered Accountants in Te Awamutu.
Janette Schrader – Executive Leader, Operations
Janette joined ConneXu in 2012, initially working in service delivery. In 2014 she was appointed to the role of Business Support Leader. She loves working in the business side of the organisation and has a great team working with her. Janette worked in the Private Health sector for 14 years before moving to the Disability Sector. She finds it really rewarding to see smiles on the faces of the people we support and sharing their sense of achievement when they achieve their goals.
Janette’s interests when not at work are speedway, travelling, craft work and spending time with her dog Bella. Janette is married and has three adult sons and nine grandchildren, which keeps her busy.
Tema Aperehama-Tapu – Service Manager
Tema brings many years practical experience in disability support as well as the mental health sector. With administrative experience and a degree in Business Management Tema also brings the benefit of a strong understanding of the funding processes that directly affect the people we support.
Tema is enjoying working in her home town of Te Awamutu, and the opportunity to work closely with the people she supports as part of the close-knit ConneXu team. She absolutely shares the ConneXu commitment to enabling better lives for those they support – believing that every person has a place in the community as a respected individual with a worthwhile contribution to offer.
Jasmeet Bajwa – Service Manager
Jasmeet loves his role at ConneXu as he believes that empowering individuals living with disabilities gives his own life more meaning. He feels proud to be part of an organisation which gives people with disabilities creative and flexible support services to suit their lifestyle so that they can enjoy their lives to the ‘maximum capacity’.
In his previous role, he found he was able to lead, support and guide the teams to model best practice services to achieve desired standards for indigenous people living with disabilities.
Jasmeet holds a National Diploma in Healthcare Studies, with a focus on Mauri ora (healthy individuals), as well as NZ Certificates in Health and Wellbeing. In his spare time, Jasmeet enjoys practicing golf, spending quality time with his family, reading literature as well as practising “Sikhism” and living by the teaching of Sikh Gurus.
Esther Hockett – Quality Practice Leader
Esther recently moved to New Zealand from the north-western United States, where she worked in disability services since 2010. Esther has supported adults who experience a wide range of disabilities in direct care, individualized and integrated employment, as well as case management.
Esther obtained a Bachelor’s degree in psychology at Clark University in Massachusetts. While at University, Esther focused on Self-Determination Theory. Learning the different outcomes from intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation has helped her to conclude that by fostering a person’s autonomy, acknowledging their competency and encouraging their interactions with others, it will help them to be the most successful. Esther continues to use these principles to supply people with the tools that they need to achieve a meaningful life.
Shivneel Mani – Quality Practice Leader
Shivneel loves his role as Quality Practice Leader, as he believes that making a difference in other people’s lives gives his own life more meaning. He feels proud to be part of an organisation that gives people with disabilities the chance to have a voice, and to become a part of their community.
Shivneel has a New Zealand Diploma in Business Management, level 5 and Career Force Level 3 in Health and Wellbeing. His previous work experience includes being Managing Director of a franchise business, as well as working in accounts, administration and stock control.
Wendy Carter – Quality Practice Leader
Wendy has brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to her role as Quality Practice Leader after a career supporting people with disabilities in her community, both in special needs schools and through other disability support organisations.
She is currently studying Careerforce level 4 and enjoying further developing her leadership skills.
When not working with ConneXu, Wendy’s focus is her 3 children. She also has a passion for fishing and travelling and is looking forward to exploring the delights of Phuket’s wildlife, food and shopping next.
Kelly Joy – Quality Practice Leader
Kelly is a Registered Nurse and started her career in psychopaedic nursing, working with patients who have intellectual disabilities, but has also has a wealth of knowledge from working in a range of other specialty areas, including management. In addition, she has held roles supporting people in the community with disabilities, as well as supporting managers and team members with their own health and wellbeing.
When she is not working, Kelly enjoys spending time with her Canadian partner Chris and their 5-year-old son Colby, as well as entertaining people at their house. In her quiet time, Kelly enjoys craftwork, crochet, knitting, walking, reading, music and trying new things. Her next goal is to train to complete a half marathon – walking!
Levanne Croasdale – Quality Practice Leader
Levanne loves to see the people we support living their lives and achieving their goals. She feels really lucky that she gets to be involved in their support and meet their families. The highlight of her day is when she sees somebody smile and living life their way.
However, Levanne’s disability support journey began before she embraced the industry as her career path. Her son Declan was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus (a condition where there is an accumulation of fluid within the skull). After her son passed away, she felt a real desire to help others with disabilities. She feels that this experience is what makes her particularly invested in the people we support.
Grace Wallace – Community Connector
Grace is passionate about strengthening communities through education and action, so that people with disabilities are valued and included within their communities. She has a passion for helping people maximise their potential, recognise their value and to be accepted for who they are. Grace feels that this aligns well with Connexu’s vison and mission.
Grace was born with a rare skin condition, which has had a significant impact on her life. The condition affects her mobility and overall appearance, but she knows this experience can only help her relate to the people ConneXu support.