Our Team


Sherlin Barends

Operations Manager:
Marelie Blomerus

Sherlin, through her lived experience as a young person who grew up in the community and faced mental health challenges, helps us to raise awareness about the importance of mental health, specifically in school communities.  Both of Sherlin’s parents are educators at Community Keepers partner schools and Sherlin attended a primary and high school which now have CK offices.  Sherlin speaks openly about her own mental health journey and is instrumental in designing innovations, destigmatising anxiety and mental health issues and improving mental health literacy.

The management team includes:

  • Director and CEO: Gerrit Laning, M. Th. (Clinical Pastoral Care)
  • Operations Manager: Marelie Blomerus, BEd (Early Childhood Development and Foundation Phase)
  • five Area Managers:
    • Elanie van Zyl, B. Psych
    • Juhanne Britz, B. Psych
    • Mieke van der Merwe, B Social Work
    • Reece Carstens, B. Psych
    • Sherize Nel, B. Psych
  • Marketing, Media and Fundraising Executive: Meriel Bartlett, B. Soc. Sci. (Industrial Sociology)
  • supported by our Administrative Assistant: Vivian Muller, B. Th.

Our operations team is spread across 29 partner schools; the remote and hybrid nature of our work means that our Area Managers play a critical role in cohesion, communications, coaching and fostering the organisational culture.  We ensure that all of our employees are well equipped with the latest, relevant skills needed to execute our interventions and for every four hours of therapeutic intervention our practitioners receive one hour of supportive supervision.   Our multi-disciplinary team includes:

  • social workers
  • psychologists
  • registered counsellors
  • and mental health first aiders (young people NEET recruited from the communities we serve)

The team of specialists in their field:

  • Counselling Psychologists:
    • Lene Odendaal
    • Mahleen van der Merwe
  • Educational Psychologists:
    • Heidi Bezuidenhout
    • Liezl Klopper
    • Amanda Van der Vyver
  • Masters in Social Work:
    • Joané Geldenhuys (Play based intervention)
    • Esther Naudé
    • Marie-Louise van Heerden (Play based intervention)
    • Mariette van der Westhuizen (Play Therapy)
    • Carien Zeeman (Forensic Practice)

Diversity plays an important role in our work, we value professional qualifications and we also value lived experience.   88% of our team, leading our projects, are under the age of 35.   In 2021 we drew up an Employment Equity plan and targets and are working to ensure that the demographics of our team reflect those of the communities we work in.

Team Demographics