Workshop facilitators

Our people bring diverse skills, cultures and life experiences.

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    Alex

    Alex El Amanni

    Facilitator - Addiction 101

    Ko Ruapehu te maunga; ko Waitematā te moana; ko Alex El Amanni toku ingoa.

    Alex El Amanni is an alcohol and drug counsellor, Auckland DHB consumer advisor, and an addiction researcher. Alex recently came on board with Blueprint for Learning as an Addiction 101 facilitator.

    Alex has a triumphant story of recovery with a history of substance and gambling addiction, criminal offending and mental unwellness, he is now working to support people who have had the same life experiences as him.

    Alex is passionate about providing a voice for people with lived experience of addiction and mental illness. Through delivering the Addiction 101 workshop he has been given an opportunity to share the highs and lows of his life to prove that recovery is possible even in the presence of major disadvantage.

    Alex’s message of recovery is to model hope for those who have lost hope in themselves.

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    Amy

    Amy Alexander

    Facilitator - Addiction 101

    I am Amy Alexander – mother, daughter, sister and aunt.

    Along with 39 years’ experience with addiction and recovery, I am also a dapaanz registered addiction practitioner and an accredited supervisor.

    I’m motivated to contribute to the destigmatisation of addiction/recovery and to support family members impacted by both. 

     

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    Andrew

    Andrew Gifford

    Facilitator - Addiction 101 

    Andrew Gifford is one of our workshop facilitators.

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    Bernie

    Bernie Thijssen

    Facilitator - Addiction 101

    Greetings to you. I come to these workshops with 35 years of experience in mental health, including addiction. In addition, I grew up in a community with close ties to mental health services and was privileged to witness recovery during all manner of mental health challenges and appreciate true compassion for people. 

    In my work in coexisting problems of mental health and addiction, I have learned to value the space that is created between people, by people, in which magic happens.  

    I believe that being part of the Blueprint workshops is another opportunity to develop space for learning by being together with our combined experience and energy to promote wellbeing across communities. 

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    Brody

    Brody Runga

    Facilitator - MH101®, Addiction 101 and Corrections Health Service Nurses Primary Mental Health and Addiction Education Programme

    I have worked in various roles across both mental health and addiction services over the last decade. I now support various organisations acting as an independent consultant, facilitator and trainer.

    A lot of my career has been involved in supporting lived experience initiatives such as DRIVE Consumer Direction, Te Kete Pounamu and Recovery College, working with various stakeholders and groups of people living with mental distress and substance use challenges.

    I am passionate about creativity for wellbeing, and I support Tufuga Arts Trust in Counties Manukau. I am currently studying towards a Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts.

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    Lotta

    Carlotta Dann

    Facilitator - Addiction 101

    Lotta has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over eight years.

    She is the community manager and content creator at livingsober.org.nz and the author of two books on addiction, with a third due for publication in mid-2020.

    Lotta loves facilitating Addiction 101 for the opportunity it provides to have real and honest conversations about what's going on in our communities, and for the wealth of knowledge that gets passed around during each workshop.

     

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    Diana

    Diana Rands

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I’ve been working in the addiction/mental health field since 1985, when I graduated as a social worker. My passion is social justice and working alongside people to support them to reach their full potential. I love what I do!

    I work half my time as an addictions clinician at Auckland’s Community Alcohol and Drug Services and the rest of the time I indulge my love of group facilitation and education. My specialist areas are addiction, mental health, communication, sexual orientation and gender identity, racial and sexual harassment prevention and human rights promotion.

    Participants often comment that although they may be discussing difficult topics, I can make it fun! My strengths include warmth and compassion.

    I’m also chair of the board of trustees for the Inner City Women’s Group (a family violence prevention and education programme), a member of the Auckland Council’s Rainbow Advisory Board and a volunteer for telephone counselling service for Rainbow Communities.

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    Erica

    Erica Hodgson

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I have over 15 years’ experience in the field of mental health and wellbeing – in clinical work as an occupational therapist and in service development roles focusing on project management and quality improvement. I am passionate about improving the wellbeing of our communities and I now focus on governance work in health regulation and the mental health NGO sector.

    MH101 gives me the opportunity to share information that I know is evidence-based and really works, to reduce distress and support people when they first need it.

    I love hearing people's stories and their confidence at the end of the day that they too can make a difference.

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    Grant

    Grant Cooper

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I was born in Wellington and spent most of my life in Christchurch. I currently live in Dunedin with my wife and teenage son.

    I have worked in the field of mental health for the last 17 years.

    For the last seven years I have been the manager of an adult mental health service in Dunedin.

    I love being able to use my strengths to enhance New Zealanders’ wellbeing through my work as an MH101 facilitator

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    Janet

    Janet Colby

    Facilitator - Addiction 101

    My name is Janet Colby. I’m an AOD clinician. I have a passion for working alongside people who have been affected by addiction.

    I started work in the field in 1982 at the Auckland Drug Dependency clinic and helped set up Higher Ground Drug Rehabilitation Trust in 1983 and am still involved today.

    For the last few years I have been facilitating different groups for clients and affected others at the CADs Abstinence programme.

    I am excited to be co-facilitating these workshops as it provides another opportunity to educate about addiction and explore stigma and discrimination.

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    Jason

    Jason Haitana

    Facilitator - MH101®

    Kia ora, my name is Jason. My story of trauma and abuse isn’t unique, which is sad. But in the struggle that my life has been, I have earned the wisdom to share my insights.

    This is my tribal saying, which connects me through the central North Island, southwest along the Whanganui river:

    The river flows

    From the mountains to the sea

    I am the river

    The river is me.

    I currently work in mental health in Northland and I truly treasure my experiences, as they have made me who I am.

    He kākano ahau i ruia mai i Rangiātea

    I am a seed which was sewn in the heavens of Rangiātea. I will never die.

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    Jillian

    Jillian Fordyce

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I feel privileged to be part of the Blueprint for Learning team and working with such wise people. MH101 is a unique workshop that I am very proud to have been associated with for the last ten years. My many years of clinical experience, from working in a variety of roles across the health system, enables me to share those experiences in a positive manner.

    Facilitating change for people can be life altering. I enjoy gently challenging the myths around illness and promoting wellbeing. I get heaps out of the workshops too, as we meet different people all over the country.

    As a semi-retired farmer I have a strong interest in rural health challenges and taking these workshops to rural groups is a great opportunity to facilitate change.

    It’s great that we go to regions and areas that often don’t get the opportunity to attend training and address significant needs. This is an incredible journey for all of us.

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    Juliana

    Juliana Korzon

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I am a registered nurse with practitioner experience in mental health, addiction and disability settings in both New Zealand/Aotearoa and the United Kingdom. I also have over a decade of experience delivering adult education.

    I’m committed to supporting learners to advance their understanding of mental health and addiction for themselves, their loved ones and their communities.

    I’m of English and Polish descent. I live in Wellington with my partner and when I’m not at work I can often be found wandering the beaches and hills of the Miramar peninsular with my dogs.

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    Katie

    Katherine Owen

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I am a registered comprehensive nurse with 25 years’ experience working in the mental health and addiction sector both in New Zealand and in the United Kingdom.

    I currently work in nursing education, developing the next generation of mental health nurses.

    I’m passionate about supporting the wellbeing of individuals, families, communities and organisations through community development and user-driven services. What I enjoy most about being an MH101 facilitator is meeting our amazing participants who bring empathy, compassion and the desire to make a difference in their own communities.

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    Kimberly

    Kimberly Bignell

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I've worked in the mental health sector in a variety of both clinical and peer roles over the last 12 years. MH101 is a workshop I feel proud to facilitate. It’s an incredibly respectful workshop that honours both the experience of mental distress and the experience of those in supporting roles – and that’s all of us!

    Most of my clinical work has been focused on children, young people and their families, as well as working alongside family members of those experiencing mental illness/distress.

    Alongside my colleagues, I try to approach a serious topic with a little lightness and a touch of humour.

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    Kristal

    Kristal O'Neill

    Facilitator - Corrections Health Service Nurses Primary Mental Health and Addiction Education Programme

    Kristal facilitates the Corrections Health Service Nurses Primary Mental Health and Addiction Education Programme.

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    Olga

    Olga Smith

    Facilitator - MH101®

    Olga Smith is one of our workshop facilitators.

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    Perise

    Perise Lupeli

    Facilitator - MH101®

    Talofa lava all! I am super passionate about all things holistic – spirit, soul and body.

    What Blueprint for Learning offers is an opportunity for me to speak life and bring over two decades of professional and personal development in education and health – alongside being vulnerable and open with how I have been able to overcome many negative thought patterns to where I am today – and where I am going!

    My heart is to see people thrive in every area of their lives, and when we win the battle in our minds, we win in life!

    This is an incredible honour!

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    Rachel

    Rachel Stephenson

    Facilitator - MH101®

    I have a strong background in mental health and disability with close to 30 years’ experience in a variety of roles.

    I’m passionate about enhancing wellbeing and developing mental toughness and resilience.

    What I enjoy most about delivering MH101 is meeting new people, demystifying mental illness, reducing stigma, teaching participants how to look after themselves, validating the skills and experience that all participants bring with them and teaching a few new techniques to assist in supporting people’s experiences of mental distress.

    I believe one of my greatest strengths is storytelling and the ability to relate topics back to everyday life.

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    Renee

    Renee McDermott

    Facilitator - MH101®

    Tena koutou katoa. I have worked in the mental health sector for more than 20 years. Over the years I have held a variety of roles, including systematic advocacy, management of peer mental health services, supervision, workshop development and one-on-ones with people who experience mental illness and their families.

    I have a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a certificate in Māori studies. I’m a qualified mental health supervisor and registered teacher.

    I have facilitated workshops for Blueprint for Learning for several years and I love working with an organisation that I know embraces holistic and evidence-based programmes to support strong, healthy workplaces, families and communities.

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