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)
  • Deputy Operations Manager: Jacquelene Yikwani-Jayiya, BCom (Business Management); Certificate in Project Management
  • Head of Support for Therapeutic Interventions
    • Juhanne Britz, B. Psych
  • Head of Preventative Interventions
    • Elanie van Zyl, B. Psych
  • Area Managers:
    • Joané Geldenhuys, M Social Work
    • Lee-Anne Botes, B Social Work
    • Mieke van der Merwe, B Social Work
    • Reece Carstens, B. Psych
    • Rochelle van den Berg, B. Psych
    • Sherize Nel, B. Psych
    • supported by our Administrative Assistant: Vivian Muller, B. Th.
  • Marketing, Media and Fundraising Executive: Meriel Bartlett, B. Soc. Sci. (Industrial Sociology)
  • Project Manager: Daniel Mathebula, Advanced Diploma in Project Management
  • Community Liaison/Marketers:
    • Banele Masemola-Mokiti
    • Nicky Reshoketswe
    • Nqaba Mpemnyama
    • Tammy Gordon

Our operations team is spread across 35 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:

  • Care Practitioners
    • social workers
    • psychologists
    • registered counsellors
  • Care Facilitators
    • 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)

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 established an Employment Equity Committee and we drew up an Employment Equity plan and targets.  During 2022 we plan to create 9 new posts, as part of our growth strategy; these posts are all earmarked for EE candidates, in line with our Employment Equity target deadline of 31 July 2022.  One post is on the management level and 8 posts are for Care Facilitators in the field. In addition to this, should any current staff member vacate their post, preference will be given to recruiting EE professionals as we work towards building a diverse team who reflect the demographics of the communities we serve.

Team Demographics
Demographics of Partner Schools