General Manager (Full time): Kath Hopkins
Kath commenced as FOCAS General Manager in Nov 2020.
Prior to securing this role at FOCAS, Kath worked full time as a Teacher, Community Services/Individual Support with Region South, TAFE NSW. Based at Bomaderry Campus since 2010, she was responsible for developing and delivering Certificate to Diploma level training for people working in, or wishing to work in, the community services sector, particularly those with an interest in working with individuals with a disability. As part of her role Kath was required to develop current learning and assessment resources, maintain strong links with industry, organise industry experience for students and train and mentor new educational services staff.
Kath was born locally but left Nowra after completing her HSC at Nowra High School to study at the University of Sydney, firstly gaining a Social Sciences degree and then later a Masters in Rehabilitation Counselling. After university Kath commenced working in disability and community services primarily in the areas of open employment and case management and became actively involved in a number of peak bodies. After some years, Kath combined her work in disability and community services with part-time teaching. This led to her securing a full time position with TAFE NSW and she worked as a teacher and in educational management roles at both Baulkham Hills and Meadowbank Campuses, while also completing post graduate qualifications in vocational education and training.
In 2008 Kath returned to Nowra with her partner and 3 sons. She leads an active life, supporting her boys’ academic, sporting and community pursuits as well as participating in a number of community based activities. Kath is a keen mountain biker which she does both socially and competitively, and serves as secretary of the local mountain bike club.
Kath is a passionate advocate for strength-based practices and positive mentorship leading to valued roles, social justice and inclusion for all members of our community.
Finance and Plan Manager (Full time) Leah Dodd
Leah joined the FOCAS team in July 2018
Leah completed Shoalhaven High School in 2009. She started a nursing degree in 2010 and in 2011 transferred into an undergraduate program in Health Sciences and ﬁnished her degree with a Bachelor of Health Sciences in Indigenous Health Studies. She then went on to complete her Masters of Public Health in July 2016. In 2021, Leah completed her Certificate IV in Bookkeeping & Accounting and holds a membership with the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB).
Leah has worked in hospitality, childcare and bookkeeping. In 2017 she worked as an NDIS Local Area Coordinator at Uniting in Nowra. She also has a brother with Down Syndrome and understands the unique needs and supports of both a person with a disability and the people who care and advocate for them.
Leah brings to FOCAS her passion for seeing people with a disability becoming valued and fulﬁlled members of the community, and her desire to see a solid structure of supports and procedures to ensure that the best outcomes can be achieved by all who are a part of FOCAS- participants carers and family members, support workers, admin staﬀ and the wider community.
Leah has many varied interests. She enjoys most sports and has played representative soccer as well as in local women’s teams in both summer and winter seasons. She enjoys going to the gym at least four mornings a week to keep ﬁt. Leah has enjoyed some travelling in America, Europe, the Middle East, South East Asia & New Zealand and would like to see as much of the world as she can. Leah spends her time with her Miniature Dachshund, Lucy and is kept busy by her nieces and nephews and their many and varied sporting and cultural pursuits.
Support Coordinator (Part time: M-W) Marg Gardner
On leaving school in England Marg worked on the family farm. At 17 Marg completed a diploma in Equine studies and qualified as a Horse Riding Instructor. For the next 17 years, Marg managed a Stud/Training event yard, training and competing horses to National Level and teaching many young riders how to train their horses. Marg’s passion at this time was to re-school/train horses that had developed ‘bad and dangerous habits’ due to the ignorance of uneducated people who had previously ridden/trained them and clearly not understood how to communicate and work effectively with their horses.
In 1993 following a serious back injury, Marg found herself immersed in the world of disability. The drive to seek social justice for all individuals who faced discrimination and prejudice of some kind due to a disability became Marg’s focus in life. She gained employment with social services at a large local day centre for adults with disabilities. Marg started as a Care Assistant but in her own time completed various teaching courses in Special Education, Basic Skills and via Uni a Certificate in Education. Over the next 12 years, Marg worked her way to Assistant Manager and was the National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) assessor for the organisation. In 2005 following a Government Initiative called ‘Valuing People’ Marg assisted participants and their families to transition from huge segregated day centres to use smaller community hubs that would enable people with a disability to have more choice and control over their lives – a massive reform that was viewed by many families at the time as a disrupted change placing their family member at more risk.
In 2007 Marg immigrated to Australia with her husband Chris. Locating in Nowra Marg gained work with FOCAS as a Community Facilitator, in 2009 Marg became the FOCAS Planner and in January of 2017 took on the role of Operations Manager for FOCAS. In March 2017 FOCAS became registered with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) as an NDIS provider. FOCAS as an organisation began the transition from State and block funding to Federal and Individualised Funding through the NDIS. Marg’s focus and drive through these years is the advocacy for all FOCAS participants to have a voice, be heard and understood, be recognised as individuals and achieve goals that lead to valued and sustainable community roles that continue to provide further opportunities that add purpose to their lives.
In November 2020 with the employment of Kath Hopkins as the FOCAS General Manager, Marg moved to the dedicated position of FOCAS Support Coordinator, a service FOCAS has provided since 2018 for NDIS participants.
Staff Rostering & Office Administrator (Part time: M-W) Anne Bruce
Bookkeeper: Nerida Hartman
Nerida joined FOCAS as our bookkeeper in January 2018. Nerida brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role. She manages the accounts for a range of other other small businesses and organsations in the local community.
FOCAS has a dedicated team of over 50 community facilitators supporting individuals to live a fulfilling and diverse life, build social connections and acquire valued roles in the community.
FOCAS Shoalhaven Incorporated Organisational Chart: