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Cancer wellness support

Meet Our Team

Introducing our purpose-driven team

Our Management Team

Ms Deborah Shepherd

Chief Executive Officer

Ms Vivienne Maitland

Client Services Manager

Ms Gail Searle

Retail Manager

Ms Louise Palmer 

Operations Manager

Our CWS Team

Ms Debra Foster

Op Shop Manager - Katoomba

Ms Samantha Alston

Client Services Coordinator

Ms Alyshia Denten

Wellness Centre Coordinator - Penrith

Ms Carolyn Wilkinson

Wellness Centre Coordinator - Leura

Ms Mary Donnelly

Fundraising and Events

Mr Kerry Denten

Digital and IT

Ms Suzy Baker

Operations Coordinator

Ms Connie Ray

Operations Support

Ms Tania Sloan

Executive Assistant

Ms Judith McGrath

Accounts and Bookeeping

Ms Carol Black

Retail Assistant

Ms Jenni Cooper

Client Services Volunteer

Deborah Shepherd

Chief Executive Officer
Deborah was appointed as our CEO in November 2022, bringing her breadth of experience in all aspects of management, fostering a positive team culture and her strong passion for complementary therapies and accessibility.

Deborah has held global executive leadership roles for over 30 years across sales and marketing, general management and project management within the wealth management industry, and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (MAICD)

As a qualified wellness practitioner, she has personally supported many people through her modalities of energy healing, reiki and aromatherapy. Deborah’s Embrace Life™ festivals operated across Sydney and regional NSW, engaging local businesses (including in Penrith and the Blue Mountains), Councils and Chamber of Commerce to showcase the diversity and creativity within each community.

She led and created a purpose-driven collective in her roles of CEO for SoulAdvisor (Australia and New Zealand) and as Director and Chief Operating Officer of the SoulAdvisor Foundation, and is widely known for her commitment to developing the professionalism, accessibility of the wellness industry, and education using evidence-based research.

Deborah was drawn to Cancer Wellness Support as she has always understood the benefits and strengths of complementary therapies, yet witnessed these could often be cost-prohibitive, especially when faced with the financial constraints that a cancer diagnosis can deliver. The overarching model that allows accessibility with a strong community focus and founded on the values of compassion, care and community resonated deeply with her.

On a personal level, Deborah now lives in the Illawarra region, but this was not always the case. Growing up in St Marys, and with her family still living in the area, she embraces coming back each week to spend quality time with them.
Ultimately, as our CEO she is able to bring together all of her career experiences and life passions into one role.

Ms Vivienne Maitland

Client Services Manager

Viv commenced with Cancer Wellness Support in 2017 as a Counsellor, and by 2018, she was offered the role of Client Services Manager, a position she continues to thrive in.

Holding a Bachelor of Counselling, over the last 14 years, she has worked as a counsellor in private practice and contributed to specialised counselling programs for Carers SA. Additionally, she has taught in the Diploma of Counselling and Bachelor of Human Services (Counselling).
It is this work that brought her to Cancer Wellness Support, where she operates through the lens of her counselling background supported by her nursing knowledge. Her experience has provided her with invaluable insights into the experiences of both carers and the cared-for, particularly in the context of grief and loss.
Viv’s professional journey has included time in social policy within the Premier and Cabinet in Western Australia. She engaged in statewide consultations, spanning Indigenous communities and prisons, to shape a social vision for the future.
Venturing into media, she produced the Flying Doctor Appeal on ABC Radio. She also served as the State Fundraising Manager for Mission Australia and the General Marketing Manager for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation, each role contributing to her diverse skill set.

As Client Services Manager, she oversees our qualified team of therapists, counsellors and nurses, develops programs and service offerings, liaises with local healthcare professionals and leads our Client Services team to oversee our Wellness Centres in Leura and Penrith.

Her background in nursing and counselling equips her with a unique perspective that bridges medical and complementary therapies, ensuring their therapy offerings and programs align with the needs of their clients and carers.

It’s much more than ‘just a job’ for Viv – it’s her heartfelt commitment to improving the lives of people living with cancer and their families.

Gail Searle

Retail Manager
Since 2013, Gail has played a pivotal role in the Cancer Wellness Support team, overseeing and managing our Op Shops in Penrith and Katoomba as the Retail Manager.
With over two decades of retail experience under her belt, Gail’s commitment to the community stems from a decade of working with the NSW Police, supporting the Superintendent across Head Office, Penrith, and Blacktown.
Gail’s journey into this role was shaped by her 23-year tenure at Franklins, which left her contemplating her next career move after the store’s closure.
Following many years of fundraising for homeless shelters, volunteering for soup kitchens, and participating in Relay For Life, Gail couldn’t quite believe that a role combining retail with community existed, and she knew she had to put her hat into the ring.
Upon her initial meeting with the founder, Robyn Yates OAM, Gail felt an immediate connection that led to her being offered the job on the spot. Almost a decade later, what she cherishes most about her role remains the same: the meaningful conversations, unwavering support, and the bonds formed among volunteers, staff, and customers.
Amidst countless cups of tea and delicious treats from the local bakery, Gail’s team, the customers, and she have shared moments of laughter and tears, fostering lifelong friendships. She revels in the genuine community atmosphere of each op shop, where the warmth of walking in is always accompanied by a sense of belonging.
Gail wishes she had known about this role 20 years ago, as it perfectly encapsulates her strengths and everything that she is passionate about.

Louise Palmer

Operations Manager
With a passion for enabling business transformation through digital solutions, Louise brings a wealth of experience in business processes, management, and digital services.
She has held the role of Operations Manager at Cancer Wellness Support since 2022, ensuring everything behind-the-scenes is running smoothly for the broader Cancer Wellness Support team.
Louise brings expertise in digital transformation, customer experience enhancement, process automation and optimisation, and service delivery design and implementation. She firmly believes in the development of people and the collective effort of an exceptional team that can truly make a difference.
She gained a solid understanding of Cancer Wellness Support as an Executive Assistant and HR professional between 2019 and 2021, and previously worked for INSEAD as their Global IT Support Manager and IT Project Manager in the UAE and Singapore.
Louise is currently working towards a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutrition and Psychology from Deakin University. She holds a Certificate IV in Remedial Massage and Natural Therapies from the Australian College of Natural Therapies (ACNT), as well as a Diploma of Business and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment from TAFE NSW.
As the Operations Manager, Louise and her team work tirelessly behind the scenes to provide crucial support in administration, facilities management, accounting, IT, and housekeeping. Based in Leura in the Blue Mountains, their small but dedicated team focuses on enhancing productivity, efficiency, and value through streamlined processes, advanced technology, and education.
While they are not client-facing, they understand the significance of their work and its direct impact on the customer experience. Their commitment to excellence ensures that every aspect of Cancer Wellness Support functions seamlessly.