Jerry McNamara

Chief Executive Officer

02 9799 4333

Joined Participate Australia in October 2003. Originally from Canada, hold a BSC in Genetics and a Masters of Business Administration Degree. Worked in the Corporate sector until moving to Australia in 1995. Since 1995 I decided to change careers and work in the non-profit sector holding senior management positions with the Institute for Sustainable Futures, Carnivale (NSW Multicultural Arts Festival) and The Bobby Goldsmith Foundation. I have also been very involved all of my adult life as a volunteer internationally in the Arts, HIV and Human Rights. Currently I am the Vice President of the Board of Koorana and the President of The Australian Heart Lung Transplant Association, the latter as a result of being very fortunate to have had a successful heart transplant in 2007.

Erika Aravena

Executive Manager, Community Liaison

0401 657 576

I have been working in the disability field for the past 16 years and I am very passionate about what I do.  My job is a learning experience every day.  I came into the disability field through my studies, as I was required to do 280 hours practice work in disability, never knowing that it will become my passion.  I love walking and reading, I have 2 beautiful children.

Thom Calma

Executive Manager, Support

0421 744 708

I am a proud Aboriginal Australian, hailing from the Northern Territory and a member of the Kungarakan tribe. I joind Participate Australia in 2009 as a support person, I have been working in the support coordination team since 2010. With a strong interest in social justice and human rights, I have worked with the Participate Australia Self-Advocacy Committee since 2013 and I work with participants, families, workers and the community to help transition into the new world of the NDIS.

I currently sit on the Board of Management for the Settlement Neighbourhood Centre in Darlington and I enjoy travel, cooking, staying active and rearing my pet geckos.

Peter Schneider

Executive Manager, Strategy and Communication

0401 039 022

I joined Participate Australia late in 2011 after twenty years in the community sector in Australia, in operations, supporter care and retention and executive management in organisations including Foodbank NSW, Charities Aid Foundation, The Smith Family and Ronald McDonald House.

I volunteer in the kitchen of Lentil as Anything, a vegan, pay-what-you-can restaurant in Newtown, and with Re-Gen, a grassroots environmental group linking communities with the natural environment by combining environmental on-ground work with music, performance and art.

I have a passion for language and literature, fringe music and good food.  I live in the Inner West with my two adult children and our cat Mikeš.

Susan Woodhouse

Chief Financial Officer

 02 9799 4333

I joined Participate Australia in 2006 with an extensive background in Finance and Payroll. I have worked in many industries, including Hospitality, Manufacturing, and for the last 16 years in the Not for Profit sector. Since joining Participate Australia, I have been involved in the development and implementation of new systems to accommodate the growth of Participate Australia. I am looking forward in assisting Participate Australia to be NDIS ready in the near future. I enjoy swimming (‘meditation’ time), walking and travelling when time permits.

Lorraine Baldacchino

Manager, Corporate Services

02 9797 5304

I commenced with Participate Australia in August 2015, and I have been delivering human resource outcomes for over 28 years in various organisations, including the State government, the not for profit sector and commercial organisations.  I first worked for a not-for-profit organisation in 2004, where I developed my passion for this sector.  I have completed a Masters of Business, majoring in Industrial Relations, I have a Professional Diploma of Human Resources and a Graduate Certificate of OH&S.
I recently joined the Board of a community organisation supporting women.  This has provided me with valuable experiences that I can bring to my role as Manager, Corporate Services at Participate Australia.
I hail from Scotland originally and I have two children. My daughter has travelled the world with the OzScot Highland Dance team and I am also a member of the Central Coast Highland Dancing Committee.

Kelly Grasso

Manager, Community Engagement

0402 668 469

I have been with Participate Australia since February 2008, while completing a Diploma of Welfare. I started as a support worker, working across various programs. I initially requested to complete my work placement hours within the Participate Australia office, where I had the opportunity to develop the skills to become a coordinator. I have coordinated many different programs throughout my employment with Participate Australia in particular the Day Options. I have a passion for Motor Sports, adventure and reading books.

Andrea Natoli

Manager, Partnerships and Development

0421 481 560

After working for more than 20 years in the Corporate medical sector I decided to utilise the skills I had learnt to move into the not-for-profit sector. I worked for two years in a community based nursing service before joining Participate Australia in October 2016. When not working I am studying law, going to the gym and enjoying time with family and friends. I hope that I can use my skills to support the team at Participate Australia and the wider Participate Australia community.

Eric Hong

Assistant Manager, Finance

02 9797 5309

I joined Participate Australia in 2013 as finance coordinator after working in a range of accounting and finance roles in a number of industries for more than 8 years. In 2017 I was promoted to the role of Assistant Finance Manager.

I enjoy working at Participate Australia, and I am working with a great team and other staff across the organisation. We maintain high ethical standards and provide a flexible working environment. I believe that as a role model for my colleagues, I need to provide support and direction, as well as opportunities to acquire new skills.

I hold a Bachelor of Economics and Finance Degree with major in Accounting from the University of Western Sydney.

I have a young family and an interest in autosports. Beside my family, I spend most of time on my cars.

Enrica Irene

Assistant Manager, Activities

0403 668 232

I joined Participate Australia in December 2011 as a support worker after completing a Community Service course. I worked mainly in after school care, vacation care, and supported living. Since November, 2013 I have worked with the community access team focusing on life skills programs. I have a big passion for travelling and I love to try new foods from all over the world.

Luke Leonard

Assistant Manager, Support

0435 820 021

I joined Participate Australia in May 2008 starting as a support worker after working in the arts and hospitality. I have worked in a variety of roles and departments. Currently I am working as a Senior Support Facilitator and working with a team dedicated to ensuring the people we support engage in meaningful activities of their choice. I am passionate about equality and social justice. I enjoy cooking, travelling and arts.

Jade Magaling

Assistant Manager, NDIS Support Coordination

0432 910 661

I joined Participate Australia in 2017, introducing Support Coordination services to assist participants to transition and navigate the new world of the NDIS. I started working in the disability services sector in 2012 as a support worker while studying Psychology as an undergraduate. Years and a Master’s Degree in Social Health and Counselling later, my conviction to utilise all my skills, training and experience to better support participants with a holistic approach is stronger than ever before.
In my free time, I like ticking off my bucket list items, conquering my fear of heights with aerial sports and bushwalking onto cliffs or having some down time with a good book, game or spending time with my family and friends.

Michael Collins

Senior Facilitator, NDIS Support Coordination

0421 579 885

I joined the support coordination team at Participate Australia in October 2017. Previously I worked in an NDIS LAC program, but have spent over 8 years working hands-on with people with intellectual disabilities. I am a big fan of the NDIS, as people with disabilities now have the same choice and control over the services they use as everybody else, and are now protected under consumer law. I am passionate about empowering people to access the supports they need to improve quality of life and achieve the goals they have set for themselves. Outside of work, I love taking my Jeep off road, camping, or anything out of the city.

Damon Collum

Senior Activities Coordinator

0421 197 185

I joined Participate Australia in 2010 after having an eclectic range of jobs in various industries, and have since moved from being a support worker to a Senior Coordinator.  Having learnt at an early age to divide by zero, I realised that I was different from other people, possibly a spawn of some ancient being.  I practice yoga and love tea, music, reading, and photography.

Chante Li 

Senior Coordinator, Finance

02 9797 5310

I started working at Participate Australia in November 2015. Working in this sector is new to me and I am very excited about the opportunity to work for Participate Australia. I have more than 5 years of experience in Finance and Accounts with a strong customer service focus. I graduated from Macquarie University with a Master in Accounting. I look forward to contributing to Participate Australia at this very exciting time under the NDIS and developing my professional career. I have a passion for Yoga and music. Reading books, specially fiction, are also a must in my leisure time.

Monica Roseworn

Senior Coordinator, Finance

02 9797 5303

I joined Participate Australia in February 2012. My years of experience in other Industries like Construction, Marketing and Art have provided me with great experience.  I have a great love for the outdoors and completed in April 2017 a trek to Everest Base Camp. I live in Croydon and I am the Mother of two teenage boys and a Pug dog called Flash.

Jodie Velthuys

Senior Support Facilitator

0435 925 237

I have been with Participate Australia since October 2015 as a Coordinator in the Support team coordinating the Flexible Respite Packages. I have worked in the disability sector in varying capacities for 14 years, including working in the Hunter region where I gained experience with the NDIS. I look forward to utilising my experience with the NDIS to assist participants and families through the NDIS transition here at Participate Australia. I have a background and qualifications in Art Therapy and Counselling and I enjoy making all types of Art, in particular painting, in my spare time.

Matthew Vierboom

Senior Coordinator, Projects and Operational Development

0435 936 277

I joined Participate Australia in May 2014 after previous positions in the arts and not-for-profit sector. I have a degree in Political Science and International Relations from UNSW and I have a large penchant for all things music, politics and sport. I hope to help our Participate Australia families through the transition towards the NDIS as smoothly as possible.

Helen An

Support Facilitator

0411 482 586

I joined Participate Australia in November 2016 and I  worked  as a support worker in disability sector for 4 years. And I studied Social Work and Community Services. I have a passion for working in welfare industry especially disability sector. I love travel and outdoor activities. I am excited to join Participate Australia and look forward to working with all participants and their families.

Gabriella Antelmi

Activities Coordinator

0421 385 711

I joined Participate Australia in 2016 as a Support Worker after completing a Certificate IV in Community Services. I worked as a Team Leader in adult group activities, school holiday activities and individual support. I became an Activities Coordinator in October 2017 focusing on individual support.
I have a strong passion to give back to our local communities whether it is setting up a Community garden with a fellow support worker or volunteering at a community garden called Street Growth.
In my spare time I love spending time with my friends, going to dog parks without a dog and eating copious amounts of pasta.

Donette Ashok Kumar

Support Facilitator

0411 157 530

I am a teacher by profession and have been teaching for 15 years. I started at Participate Australia in 2011 as a Support worker, working across all programs and in March 2017 started as a Support Facilitator. I am passionate about supporting people with disabilities and their families and dedicated to ensure the best opportunities and best outcomes.
I am an athletic person and love playing sport. My favourite sport is basketball. In my spare time I love to spend time with my family watching movies, baking amazing cakes and desserts with my children and listening to instrumental music. My hobby is being a home interior decorator for family and friends.

Reena Ashok Kumar

Support Facilitator

0412 594 268

I started working at Participate Australia in April 2014 after working in the hospitality and events industry for 2.5 years. I am in the process of completing my Bachelor of Arts majoring in Politics and International Relations. I have a passion for dance and I train Odissi and the Brazilian Samba. I love to learn new styles of dance in the future.

Alisdair Bates

Activities Centre Coordinator

0432 638 690

I joined Participate Australia family at the very beginning of 2016. In 2013, I gained my Cert IV in Community Service Work. Working in disability sector has been a life defining experience for me and I can’t imagine working in a field outside of it. In my spare time, I enjoy lazing by the beach, horror movies, “banh mi” sandwiches, reading music biographies, winning trivia nights & crisp white wines.

Chetna Baweja

Support Facilitator

0402 916 062

I started at Participate Australia as volunteer worker in September 2009 while studying a Diploma in Community Welfare Work, which motivated me to work with people with disability. This gave me an opportunity to work as Support Worker and later in team leader capacity, mainly in the Day Options, Teen Time and Vacation Care programs.I am originally from New Delhi; I have passion for cooking and creating new varieties of old favourite dishes. I love travelling and look forward to travelling to new destinations near and far.

Sanaa Chadda

Facilitator, NDIS Support Coordination

0431 772 040

I joined the Support Coordination team at Participate Australia in March 2018. Prior to my role here I worked in various roles including multiple positions within NSW health sector and Commonwealth Bank. I am currently completing my Masters in International Public Health. I enjoy learning new things every day and can’t go a day without laughing. I am a people person and enjoy meeting people from all walks of life. Outside of work I enjoy spending time with family & friends, and my fiancé and I are in the midst of planning our wedding.

Debbie Focas (on maternity leave)

Support Coordinator

0481 740 965

I joined Participate Australia in 2011 after completing a Bachelor of Social Work at the University of New South Wales. Prior to this role I completed practicums at a hospital and welfare centre where I had the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge that enabled me to work in the disability sector. As a coordinator, I have worked primarily in the individual support team and has now taken on new projects, such as; carers support group and brokerage. I have a passion for cooking and baking and I hope to do a bit of travelling soon, in particular I would love to go to Machu Picchu.

Nicolas Fodor

Support Facilitator

0411 157 530

I joined Participate Australia in 2018 as a Support Facilitator following a decade of customer based, health focused roles. I’ve worked with families, fitting baby seats to cars; in ergonomics, fitting supportive seats to bad backs, and most recently I supervised a Hearing Clinic in Marrickville. I have a BA with a Major in English, and am currently moonlighting as a wannabe successful artist. I love going to the movies, sleeping on the beach, trying strange new food, and visiting weird parts of the world.

Marco Gonzalez

Coordinator, Community Engagement

0432 358 299

I have worked in the disability sector since 2007 and joined Participate Australia in 2015. I wanted to try something new and left for a couple of years to teach English in Thailand. I’m currently working in a temporary position as a Community Liaison Coordinator and as a Support Worker. It’s great to be back and see how much growth and transition has happened, not just for Participate Australia, but also for our Participants. In my free time I enjoy cycling, cooking, reading, music and have recently developed a budding interest in astronomy.


Tiba Hamady

Facilitator, NDIS Support Coordination

0421 229 350

I joined Participate Australia in March 2018. I have been working in the disability sector for over eight years within the government sector and non-government organisations. I’ve completed my studies in Business, Leadership and Management and I have always had the passion to support those in need in the community and I hope that I can use my skills and knowledge to support the team at Participate Australia and the wider Participate Australia community. I have a big passion for travelling when time permits and I enjoy adventure, music and spend quality time with family and friends.

Jiani Hou

Coordinator, Finance

02 9797 5310

I joined Participate Australia finance team in 2017. Prior to that, I was working in a recruitment company after having completed a Master of Professional Accounting from University of Newcastle. I enjoy working for a non-profit organization and like to share my love and care to those who are in need in the community. In my spare time, I love to do bushwalking, spend time at the beach, and visit new events and markets with her family and friends.

Joanna Kazzi

Activities Coordinator

0435 769 648  

I joined Participate Australia as a support worker in July 2012 during my first year of university studying a Bachelor of Inclusive Education and Disability Studies. I have worked across all programs but primarily focused on School Holidays and the Life Skills programs. I have a passion for travelling and spent some time volunteering abroad. I am currently completing a Masters in Human Services and hope to use the knowledge gained from that in my new role in the Support team.

Diana Khoury

Administrative Support, Corporate Services

02 9799 4333

I started working at the Participate Australia office as a volunteer in August 2014. Since Friday the 13th of February 2015 I have been working part time as a paid employee. Some of the things that I do are looking after reception and helping out others with administrative work. My hobbies are listening to music. In my free time what I like doing is dancing. I would like to go back to Beirut with my mum and dad and for a holiday.

Emily Lucas

Coordinator, Corporate Services 

02 9799 4333

I have recently joined Participate Australia in December 2016 as a Coordinator of Corporate Services. You will often find me at reception when you come into the office. I am currently a fourth year university student studying at University of Wollongong in a Bachelor of Law/Bachelor of Commerce. When I am not at work I will be outside, at the gym or just with friends and family. I look forward to helping the Participate Australia community in the transition into the NDIS.

Shellay Mandla 

Support Facilitator

0421 760 690

I joined Participate Australia in March 2014 as a Support Staff and gradually became a team leader followed by my current role as a Support Facilitator. My first experience working in this field was at a summer camp for people with disabilities in 1999, held in upstate New York. It provided me with an opportunity to learn and experience the various challenges that people with disabilities face in their daily lives. That experience left a positive impact on me and now I look forward to working with both my participants and their families in providing them with the best services our organisation has to offer.
I hold a Bachelor in Commerce and a Graduate Diploma in International Business Management with further plans to pursue this industry related qualifications. I appreciate the Arts, Culture and International cinema. I have a passion for travel, experiencing the sights, sounds and food of our wonderful and exquisite world. I have also visited many cities in North America, backpacked in Western Europe, South East Asia and New Zealand.

Chris Ng

Coordinator, Marketing and Fundraising

0402 540 980

I joined Participate Australia in 2016. Prior to that I was working in business sector. I have degrees in International Business Studies and Psychology and am glad that I can apply my knowledge and experience from previous job to my work at Participate Australia.  I enjoy travelling and love dogs. I volunteer as a dog walker in Doggie Rescue whenever I have free time.

Yani Then

Activities Coordinator

0421 516 745

I joined Participate Australia in January 2014 as a support worker and was involved in various programs such as Life Skills, Community Engagement, School Holiday, and Day Options before becoming a Coordinator. I have a degree in Psychology and Social Work and wish to utilise my knowledge and experience to support our participants in achieving their goals. I enjoy meeting new people, going for a walk, cooking, baking, yoga and meditation.