Our Team


Sherlin Barends


Gerrit Laning

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 were 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)
  • Funding:
    • Marketing, Media and Fundraising Executive: Meriel Bartlett, B. Soc. Sci. (Industrial Sociology)
    • Business Development Manager: Reece Carstens, B. Psych
  • Programs:
    • Mental Health First Aid: Amanda van der Vyver, MEd. Psych
    • Preventative & Developmental Interventions: Elanie van Zyl, B. Psych
    • Support and Therapeutic Interventions: Juhanné Britz, B. Psych
  • Shared Services:
    • Human Resources Practitioner: Allifer Plaatjies, Ndip Human Resources & HC Industrial & Organisational Psychology
    • Logistics Manager: Jacquelene Yikwani-Jayiya, BCom (Business Management); Certificate in Project Management
    • Financial Administration: Vivian Muller, B. Th.
  • Operations:
    • Management Coordinator: Sherize Nel, B. Psych
      • Area Managers:
        • Joané Geldenhuys, M Social Work (Stellenbosch)
        • Lizzy Skosana, B. Psych (Eersterust)
        • Melony Namponya, Clinical Social Work (Franschhoek)
        • Mieke van der Merwe, B Social Work (Eersteriver)
        • Morné Oosthuizen, B. Psych (Cape Town)
        • Motlatso Modubi, B. Social Work (Mamelodi)
        • Nomfundo Kalipa, B. Social Work (Amajingqi Community, Eastern Cape)
        • Rochelle van den Berg, B. Psych (Cape Town)
        • Suzette Willemse, M Social Work (Bonnievale)
      • Care Practitioners (social workers, psychologists, registered counsellors)
      • Care Facilitators (mental health first aiders recruited from the communities we serve)
    • Quality Assurance: Marelie Blomerus, BEd (ECD & Foundation Phase)

Our operations team is spread across 89 partner schools with 11 more opening in 2025; 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.

Diversity plays an important role in our work, we value professional qualifications and we also value lived experience.   Over 80% of our team are under the age of 35.   In 2021, we established an Employment Equity Committee and we drew up an Employment Equity plan and targets.  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 management team who reflect the demographics of the communities we serve.

Team Demographics