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About Synapse

Leadership Team

About Synapse
 
 

Leadership Team

Synapse has an excellent Leadership Team that is responsible for providing strategic and operational management for the organisation. The diversity of specialist disability skills, as well as corporate skills embodied by our creative team, gives our organisation the edge it needs to become the peak body supporting people with Brain Disorders both individually and systemically.

 

Jennifer Cullen

Jennifer Cullen

Chief Executive Officer

Jennifer Cullen is an Adjunct Associate Professor and CEO of Synapse in Queensland and NSW. Jennifer has over 26 years' experience in disability and aged care services and was appointed in 2013 to the NDIS Independent Advisory Council as the Queensland Member and was appointed in 2016 to the National Disability and Carers Advisory Council as a Member.

 

She leads a range of research and projects that focus on supporting Indigenous Australians with complex neurocognitive disabilities, including FASD. Jennifer is a descendent of the Wakka Wakka people.

 

Clare Townsend PhD

Clare Townsend PhD

Research and Development Manager

Dr Clare Townsend is the National Manager-Research and Development at Synapse and Adjunct Associate Professor at Griffith University and James Cook University.

 

She is Chief Investigator on a suite of research projects which aim to improve identification and understanding of neurocognitive disabilities amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Queensland and Victoria. This work includes the Guddi project - research with homeless people in Cairns.

 

She is also a Partner Investigator on an ARC Linkage Grant that prioritises the access and development of housing options for people with a disability. She has background in mental health policy research, service provision and has undertaken research in the area of complex intellectual disability and quality of life.

Adam Schickerling

Adam Schickerling

National Disability Reform Manager

Adam Schickerling has over 15 years experience within the government and community sectors in a variety of nationally oriented general management and executive management roles, with qualifications in Applied Science, Disability, Management and Training. 

 

With experience in business improvement and organisational development functions, Adam has expertise in leading national expansion and growth strategies focussing on disability and community care.

 

Adam brings extensive experience in innovation, quality improvement, practice and product development. 

 

Adam's experience is strongly grounded in community capacity building and supporting community responses to realise health and social outcomes.

Judith Hunt

Judith Hunt

Chief Financial Officer

Judith's role includes the management of accounting at Synapse as well as the general business support in corporate services, marketing, and communications. She has over 20 years of financial management across two counties, and including in the not-for-profit environment. Judith also serves in a volunteer role on the Board of Directors for Communify Queensland.

Marie Hamilton-Smith

Marie Hamilton-Smith

NSW State Manager

 

Marie is a leader with over 15 years experience in management in health and human services, having worked in both Sydney and in London. Marie has worked in a range of managerial positions in public hospitals leading departments such as allied health services, information services and other clinical services. Marie has a passion for organisational improvement and has led a number of successful large scale projects, often using information technology as the enabler for positive organisational change. She also has experience commissioning new services in both the healthcare arena and the community sector. Marie holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Health Information Management), an Executive Certificate in Events Management, as well as a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. 

 

Marie leads the team of Synapse personnel based in the New South Wales office, providing high quality operational management for all established NSW programs. Marie liaises with key stakeholders in the disability sector to influence decision makers to best support the needs of those impacted by brain injury. Marie also has a strong service development focus. Armed with a passion for innovation and a proven track record in implementation, Marie aims to establish new brain injury support services for NSW residents, particularly in areas of unmet need.

 

Marie is transforming the NSW office into a "service provider of choice" under the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for those impacted by Brain Disorders.

Janet Hammill PhD

Janet Hammill PhD

Senior Research Fellow

Jan leads the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorders Research stream at Synapse. She is also the coordinator of the Collaboration for Alcohol Related Developmental Disorders (CARDD), formerly the Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) Research Network, at the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research and is a member of the National Indigenous Disability Researcher's Network. 

 

Having a shared ancestry with the Gomeroi people of the NSW Pilliga Scrub and of the first convicts into the area, Jan's primary interest is in Indigenous health outcomes and advocacy for children and adults invisible to early diagnosis and intervention. She is an ethnographer who weaves narratives of family history of health and wellbeing into a biological framework that better illustrates the epigenetic and developmental burden placed on families. Jan has a particular interest in the neurobiology of stress, teratogenic exposures especially of alcohol, and the transgenerational implications for children.

 

Janet's interests have evolved from eighteen years' experience in population health research which includes a Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Tropical Health. Her doctoral study was undertaken with Cherbourg women in Queensland documenting stories of family violence and child sexual abuse.

 

She has presented papers on specific biological programming issues for Indigenous people at many forums including the 2nd International Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Conference in British Columbia, Canada. In 2008 Janet was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (AM) for services to the community through health services for Indigenous women and children and research into the consequences of in utero exposure to alcohol, tobacco and cannabis.

 

 

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