Meet our team!

One of our strengths is our professional team who have an inherent passion for non-profit work and for making a tangible difference to South Africa’s youth.

A non-profit organisation (NPO) is dedicated to furthering a particular social cause. In economic terms, it is an organisation that uses its resources to further achieve its ultimate objectives. Non-profits are tax exempt. The key aspects of non-profits are accountability, trustworthiness, and openness to those who have invested time, money, and faith into the organisation. NPOs are accountable to the donors, volunteers, programme recipients and the public community. A common assumption of NPOs is that they are run completely by volunteers which is not the case. Focus on iThemba has a dedicated, determined team with a combination of full-time paid staff, consultants who offer their time at a reduced rate and strategic volunteers. An active and inspired Board steer the NPO and meet regularly.

Tayla 1Tayla-Anne Goss – Team Leader

Who are you?

I am an enthusiastic and compassionate individual who loves working in the non-profit sector. I find so much joy being part of the Focus on iThemba team and making a difference in the lives of children. My husband and I love to keep active and travel, we also have two adorable cats who we love to bits. My values are: kindness, integrity, and collaboration.

Tell us a bit more about your role.

My role at Focus on iThemba is to lead the team and execute our life-changing projects. I love sharing the impactful work we are doing with friends and donors and exploring new           fundraising opportunities.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

Being able to invest in children’s lives through quality education and make the kind of difference which will last a lifetime. I have an incredible power team who are passionate and a joy to see every day.

What are things or opportunities that you are excited for this year?

  1. To see our iThemba Scholar children thrive at Waterfall Schools
  2. Complete Project Star, our 2020 transformation project
  3. To see our older foster children graduate from Varsity
  4. Network with likeminded individuals
  5. Learn new things and explore new places.

IMG-1172Gavin Simpkins – Strategic Volunteer

Who are you?

I have been married to Sheila for 37 years and we have two “children” Devon, a businessman, and Bronwyn, an occupational therapist. I was in the business world for 30 years and now spend about half my time as a volunteer. I love sport and holidays in the bush.

Tell us a bit more about your role?

I get to work with Danie and the board on all of Focus on iThemba’s projects and love working with everyone to help evolve even more impactful and sustainable projects. My favourite project is Early Childhood Development, especially in rural areas.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

It  is such a pleasure and privilege to be part of a passionate and committed team working to have a positive impact in so many peoples’ lives.

Busi 2Busi Khumalo – ECD Monitor

Who are you?

I am a loving mother to my thirteen year old son, Khanyiso. I am passionate about Early Childhood Development and have devoted 10 years to the education space. I am excited to start this new journey with Focus on iThemba as we empower children to be the best they can be all while Growing their Hearts and Minds.

Tell us a bit more about your role.

I am the ECD Monitor for Focus on iThemba and spend a large part of my time working with the teachers, principals and learners of our partnering Pre-Schools.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

The organisation’s heart is for bettering the community and the belief that every child has potential to learn and grow through education, is something that speaks to me!

What are things or opportunities that you are excited for this year?

  1. Working with our partnering ECD principals and teachers to improve their skills and knowledge  in working with children.
  2. I look forward to working together with NELRU, GROW with Educate Centres and The Unlimited Child in ensuring sound implementation of ECD practices and procedures in our partnering Pre-Schools.
  3. Personal growth and development as I expand my skill set.
  4. To work with the team to improve and transform our Pre-Schools into quality ECD spaces.
  5. To monitor the newly improved ECD Centres to ensure proper function and sustainability.

 

LungaLunga Mazeka – Social Worker

Who are you?

I am a proud mother, a wife, a sister and a friend to many. I am known by auntie Lunga because I always play a role of a mother and an aunt wherever I go and work. I am a qualified social worker, I studied while I was working. I love to involve myself with people who are striving for developing themselves and others for the best. I am a happy and supportive person by nature, I love working with young people as they inspire and bring out the youth in me with their exciting hopes and dreams. My family is my heart , I love to spend time with them. I love the beach and outdoor life. I believe and Love God and try to live by Christian values always.

Tell us a bit more about your role.

I joined Focus on iThemba as a full time resident social worker in 2014. My role was working with foster families, children and parents. Regarding children , I would work with the placing social workers making sure the placing court orders were updated, I would also work with children on individual basis and group basis as a support and a person to advocate for them as well. I trained foster parents and would do sport groups with them.

While we had a small school iThemba Academy, I ran social skills groups with Grades R to Grade 4, I would communicate with families if an intervention was needed.

My role now still involves supporting foster children of whom the majority is at Varsity or out of school already. I liaise with placing social workers for the ones that are still at school to make sure their court orders are in place. I support foster children by meeting with them on regular basis with their emotional, financial, independent living of any other challenge they might be facing at the time. I support them when they are going through changes,e.g, preparing to go to Universities, with applications and meetings with institutions.

With the new schools development, I participate in selection process of the new candidates for scholarships, I meet with families for interviews and selection process. I work closely with families who are already in receipt of scholarship, that are encountering challenges at school or at home that could affects the learning and development of a child. I work with the children on individual basis as well and will be running support and life skills groups with the scholarship children, as a source of support and a go to before the challenge arises.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

The training of the ECD centres teachers, the building of the ECD centres, the scholarship programes,that affords the underprivileged communities the opportunity to get the best education, so they can build a better community tomorrow and be better people themselves, these are just what excites me the most about working at Focus on iThemba.

I also get the chance to put my skills and my profession into practice. Focus on iThemba has given me a platform to do what I like the most: to work with children and the youth, help them make decisions that concern their lives, and see them grow as unique, special individuals. Focus on iThemba has given me a chance to grow as a person and as a professional. Focus on iThemba has a unique team of both young and senior members who are vibrant , passionate, very supportive ,driven and very friendly. Focus on iThemba brings hope that the best is yet to come to all those it encounters. #Growingheartsand minds!

What are things or opportunities that you are excited for this year?

  1. I will be doing group and individual work with the iThemba Scholars at Waterfall Schools. Being a part of their successful journey makes me feel very excited!
  2. I will continue to be an advocate and a support system to our foster children and parents.
  3. I am happy to be assisting two of our foster children as they start their varsity life and will continue with professional support.
  4. I will be a part of a winning team, Focus on iThemba, to engage with our community by sharing knowledge, building partnerships and uplifting our community.
  5. I have applied for my master’s degree! I am super excited to continue with the journey of studying, to lead by example.

ShelleysShelley Barron – Marketing & Donor Relations

Who are you?

I am an inherently optimistic person with a love for people and a real passion for the social and behavioural science. I am a creative person by nature so appreciate the beauty of art. Although I am qualified in Psychology and HR, I have found a passion for graphic design and marketing and hope to continue this area of focus for as long as my working career allows. Wife to a wonderful husband, blessed with two amazing sisters and adored by loving parents!

Tell us a bit more about your role?

My role at Focus on iThemba is quite diverse and keeps me on my toes! I am fortunate to be involved in heading up the marketing department as well as offering support to the Donor Relations Manager.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

Knowing that the impact of today’s investment in a child’s education will harvest a better future for them and to a larger degree, our beloved Country, I am privileged to work for an organisation who contributes to that life-change.

What are things or opportunities that you are excited for this year?

  1. Welcoming two lovely new faces to our life-changing iThemba Scholars Programme. I am excited to witness the growth of these two for an incredible 15 years!
  2. New year, new opportunities to make a meaningful and lasting impact on the world around me, both in a professional and personal capacity.
  3. Celebrating the gift of life with friends and family!
  4. Travelling – experiencing the beauty of the world abroad.
  5. The olympics!

Heather 1Heather MacGregor – Office Administrator & Donor Assistant

Who are you?

I am a deeply compassionate person with a heart for social justice and caring for our Mother Earth. I find beauty in people, nature, art, music and the chaos of life. I am a seeker of adventure and laughter!

Tell us a bit more about your role.

My position at iThemba encompasses the running of day to day office administration and providing assistance with donor relations.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

Investing in the future of South Africa by making tangible changes in the lives of children! I am so excited by the prospect of the children we support being catalysts for change within their own homes and communities.

What are things or opportunities that you are excited for this year?

  1. 2020 heralds in a new decade and with it, opportunities for change, personal growth and a fresh start!
  2. This year brings many awesome new projects for Focus on iThemba, I am excited to be involved and to witness the impact that the projects will have on many lives.
  3. I have some amazing travel plans set up for this year which I am greatly looking forward to – exploring new places is a win!
  4. Our Campus will be undertaking a number of measures to lessen our carbon footprint which is very exciting! It brings me joy to see how eager people are to care for our beautiful Campus.
  5. I feel truly blessed to be surrounded by a team of inspired, passionate, and smart women whom I can learn from and lean on!

HelenHelen Branken – Business Manager

Who are you?

I am a carefree friendly person who always goes out of their way to see the best in people. I value time which is invested in friendship and families and always try to keep these relationships a priority in my life. I come from a big close knit family with two older brothers and a twin sister.

Tell us a bit more about your role?

Within my role I manage the financial reports for Focus on iThemba, working closely with our bookkeeper, Lene. I monitor and manage the accounts, which are then presented to the board.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

I am excited to be part of a group of people whose mission is to better the lives of others.

IMG-1166[1]Lene Venter – Bookkeeper

Who are you?

I do not like to be in the spot light and enjoy working behind the scenes.  I strive to be effective in everything I do, to deliver results and not to let my teammates down.  Optimism and enthusiasm are very important to me, as well as to keep the team’s spirit high during busy times.

Tell us a bit more about your role.

My role at Focus on iThemba is to assist on the finance side, to ensure that financial deadlines are met and to help and assist where ever help is needed, if it is in my ability to help.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

I love what I am doing at Focus on iThemba because there is so much more than just finance!  Working with a team to make a difference in peoples’ lives is so rewarding.  Although my main function is on the finance side I am exposed to a wide range of other responsibilities including the BEE Audit where I have the wonderful privilege to be involved in the community. Although all jobs have their own challenges, I know I can come to work with a good spirit because I am working with a wonderful team who loves and supports me. There is always change, which creates space to grow.  I am very excited about our work in the community, our training programmes and our partners.

What are things or opportunities that you are excited for this year?

  1. To see and experience the growth in our ECD programme and the impact it has on the lives of so many little children.
  2. To see and experience the growth of our iThemba Scholars as they develop in confidence and learning new skills.
  3. Working with a wonderful team who have a passion in making a difference.  Changing lives, changing communities, Growing Hearts and Minds.

Amanda 1Amanda Drummond – Executive Assistant to Founder/CEO

Who are you?

In three sentences, tell us a bit about yourself? I am a dedicated wife and mom of two who loves spending time with family. I am a practical, analytical and hardworking individual. I am loyal and strongly believe in integrity.

Tell us a bit more about your role.

I provide administrative and secretarial support, to the CEO. Assist in making the CEO’s desk run smoothly.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

I love experiencing the passion and commitment each and every person who works at Focus on iThemba. Seeing heart in all that is done.

What are things or opportunities that you are excited for this year?

For me 2020 marks the start of a new decade and so much can happen within that time, within the year. I hope to find joy and favour no matter where life takes me in the years to come.

IMG-1160[2]Prudence Mbambo – Housekeeping

Who are you?

My name is Prudence Mbambo and I am a proud mother of four children; three girls and one boy!

Tell us a bit more about your role?

My role at Focus on Ithemba is to keep the working space clean and to set up for functions and events. I pride myself in the work I do because when the staff are happy, I am happy.

What makes you excited about working at Focus on iThemba?

Being a part of the wonderful staff makes me wake up every morning and be happy to come to work. iThemba played a vital role in giving my daughter a good foundation in education, I am so grateful!

What are things or opportunities that you are excited for this year?

  1. My second daughter is starting high school, while my eldest daughter is applying to further her studies after passing her matric in 2018.
  2. I am now able to live with all my children under one roof as I completed building my house last year.
  3. I am excited to continue to work for an organisation that is working tirelessly to uplift our community, especially the ECD centres we partner with.
  4. I aim to start my own decorating and catering company which will keep me busy on weekends as I am often cooking and love to decorate.
  5. I am excited to work with a team who are supportive, encouraging and very friendly. My work colleagues always offer me good advice when I am faced with a challenge.