Meet The Team

All staff working at Thrive have the necessary qualifications in welfare or community services to deliver a professional, quality service.

What We're All About

We offer a continuous learning and mentoring program to

ensure our staff receive ongoing supervision and support to develop expertise and best practice knowledge. Our current staff profiles are below. To work with us, click here.

Karen van Woudenberg - CEO

Karen van Woudenberg

I joined as the Chief Executive Officer of Thrive Services in 2021. Prior to that I managed teams in state-wide and local charities and worked in government agencies in program development, contract management and operational management. I enjoy leading teams to achieve better outcomes for communities and I am passionate about social justice for the most vulnerable amongst us. I graduated from Southern Cross University with a Master’s in Business Administration and have an undergraduate qualification in Social Work from Sydney University. I have lived in the Blue Mountains for over 25 years. When I am not working you will find me walking off-leash dog trails with my two dogs and the occasional grandchild.

Michaela Gamble - Operations Administrator
Operations Administrator

Michaela Gamble

I joined Thrives Services in 2021 as the Operations Administrator. Prior to Thrive Services, I was the Administration Assistant at GJ Roth Ltd Pty and Sessional Academic at Western Sydney University.
During my tenure at Western Sydney University, I was involved in creating teaching material collegially with the unit coordinator covering a range of photographic skills, and delivering tutorials with a focus on engagement and motivational techniques to connect with a large cohort of students.

I graduated from the University of Lincoln, UK where I completed a BA Honours in Contemporary Lens Media. I currently live in the Blue Mountains with my partner, three dogs and soon our first child. Outside of work, you’ll find me baking Sourdough and renovating our mountains cottage.

Finance Manager

Candie Field

I Joined Thrive Services in December 2022 as the part time Finance Officer, while running my own business offering Accounting and Bookkeeping services to small business. I hold a Bachelor of Business Accounting/Financial Planning, from Charles Sturt University. I am also a registered a BAS Agent.

Working in the Finance/Bookkeeping industry for over 10years, I have worked across a number of industries including, childcare, building, hospitality, retail and just recently the not for profit sector. I hope to offer Thrive Services the ability to focus on the real work of supporting families, while I take the jargon out of the accounts to allow Thrive Services to make the right decisions for the business.

Linda Croyston - TEI Team Leader
TEI Team Leader

Linda Croyston

I joined Thrive Services in 2021 as the Team Leader of the Family Support program. Prior to my employment at Thrive Services, I was employed as a Defence Social Worker with the Department of Defence, where I worked with Defence members and their families to assist them to adjust to the challenges of Defence life. My employment background in the welfare sector also includes working as a Hospital Social Worker with NSW Health, teacher of Community Services at TAFE NSW, and child protection work with the NSW Department of Community Services. I have a Master of Social Work and an undergraduate degree in Community Welfare. I enjoy living in the Blue Mountains with my husband and children and like to spend my time with family and friends, reading, and focusing on my health and fitness.

Hannah Sharman - SHS & Intake Team Leader
SHS & Intake Team Leader

Hannah Sharman

I joined Thrive Services in 2021 as a Family caseworker within the TEI Family support team and recently took on the role of Team Leader of the SHS and Intake team in January of 2022. Prior to Thrive Services, I was the Mental Health Worker at Flourish Australia and previous to that, a Client Service Officer at DCJ Housing. During my tenure at Flourish Australia, I helped the company establish the community living support program in the Blue Mountains area, creating opportunities and support for vulnerable members of the community living with complex mental health issues. I currently hold a Diploma in Community Services, Certificate IV in Mental Health, and Certificate III in children’s services and am in my third year of a Bachelor of Social work through Charles Sturt University. I am born and bred in the Blue Mountains, currently living in Katoomba with my beautiful little family.

Olivia Sperzel - Intake & Drop-in Worker
Intake & Drop-in Worker

Olivia Sperzel

I joined Thrive in 2021 during covid as the Intake Worker. Prior to working at Thrive I was the Project Worker at Springwood Neighborhood Centre (SNCC). During my time at SNCC I managed 13 different activities ranging from Pilates, Yoga, Senior Fitness, Art Groups, Social cards and Board Games and many other social inclusion activities. I coordinated the facilitators, applied for grants and ran Mental Health Workshops. As a team we also ran events for International Women’s Day and helped facilitate Blue Fringe with other mountain services.

Prior to this, I ran my own Music and Events business and volunteered at The Mountains Youth Centre running a soup kitchen and event night once a month. I was also on the Youth Refuge Committee.

I have lived in the mountains for 25 years and have birthed 3 amazing children at Katoomba Hospital, one of them still lives with me and is my ray of sunshine. When I am not working, I am being entertained by my chooks, walking my little English staffy or sipping on a nice wine while painting.

Tilly Ussher-Smith - Intake & Drop-in Worker
Intake & Drop-in Worker

Tilly Ussher-Smith

I joined Thrive in 2022 as the Intake and Drop-In Worker. Prior to Thrive, I worked for Safe Places for Children, as the Senior Youth Worker and at Kirinari as a Youth Support Worker. During my time at Safe Places for Children, I helped young people in a residential setting with day-to-day tasks such as healthy eating, getting ready for school, life skills and emotional support. I have completed Youth Work Certificate 4 and Diploma of Community Services and spent two years in London working with vulnerable communities. I currently live in the Blue Mountains with my partner and daughter with another daughter on the way. When I’m not busy with work and family I enjoy cooking and eating.

Intake & Drop-in Worker

Rowan Druce

I joined Thrive in December 2023 as an intake worker. Before joining Thrive, I worked predominantly as an industrial abseiler.

In recent years I have provided short-term care as a respite foster carer and have just completed a Bachelor of Psychological studies at Western Sydney University. I live in the upper mountains and enjoy bushwalking and gardening.

Tracy Vanderhaar - TEI Family Case Worker
TEI Family Case Worker

Tracy Vanderhaar

I joined Thrive services in 2017 in the SHS/Family support worker role working out of the Women’s Refuge in Lithgow. In 2018 I added to my role at Thrive and started working as one of the TEI Family
Workers at our Lithgow Office.

My employment background includes Child Care Worker at Blackheath Kookaburra, Child Support Worker and Refuge Worker at Lithgow Women’s and Children’s Crisis Centre and Youth Worker for Lithgow Youth Worx/Lithgow Community Projects. I like to spend my free time with family, friends and pets enjoying nature.

Sheree Elliott - TEI Family Case Worker
TEI Family Case Worker

Sheree Elliott

I joined Thrive Services in 2011 when it was then known as Lithgow Family Support Service.  After commencing in administration, I moved across to a family support worker in 2013 and am now a TEI family case worker.  I have background in customer service and administration and have coached netball for a number of years which I thoroughly enjoyed.  In my personal time, I like to walk my dog, go the gym, and bushwalk in the beautiful Blue Mountains.

Aga Kolaczkowski - TEI Family Case Worker
TEI Family Case Worker

Aga Kolaczkowski

I joined Thrive Services in May 2022 as a Family Support Caseworker. I also work as a counsellor for Rough Patch, an affordable counselling service in Sydney's Inner West, offering reduced-fee counselling and other mental health supports. Before this, I worked as a caseworker, group facilitator and counsellor at Burwood Community Services for over five years. I have been a Counselling and Mental Health trainer. I have a post-graduate degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy and a long list of Professional Development which I am very passionate about. I recently moved to the Blue Mountains and am excited about this new area. When I‘m not busy with work I go for bush walks and spend time with my dog Fudge, a King Charles Cavalier who helps keep me balanced.

Fiona Post - TEI Family Case Worker
TEI Family Case Worker

Fiona Post

I started working at Thrive services in 2021 as a volunteer. In 2022 I joined the Family Team (Targeted Early Intervention)
as a Family Case Worker.

Prior to joining Thrive Services, I was a student at Tafe first completing a Certificate IV in Community Services AOD then going on to complete the Diploma of Community Services. I have previously worked for Centrelink, disability services and financial services in the Wollongong area

I currently live in Katoomba with my husband and cats. When I am not keeping busy with work you can find me curled up with a good book or taking in the view from our back deck enjoying a glass of red wine.

SHS Case Worker

Stefani Oliver

I joined Thrive in 2022 as the Volunteer Coordinator. I am working in the SHS team as a family case worker as well as the project manager for the Drive Program. I have a passion to support the community within the Blue Mountains to feel equal, involved and included.

Before Thrive, I was a Disability Support Worker for the Blue Mountains area where I was able to support those with disabilities to feel part of the community, reach their personal goals and improve their life skills. I am currently working towards my Bachelor of Human Services with a specialisation in Child, Youth and Family Practise at Charles Sturt University. When I am not at work, I keep busy with my ducks and dogs, roller skating, sewing, crafting, bushwalking, adventures or hanging out with family and friends.

Rochelle Lonsdale - SHS Case Worker
SHS Case Worker

Rochelle Lonsdale

I joined Thrive Services in 2022 as a caseworker within the Specialist Homelessness Services team.
Prior Thrive Services, I was the Legal Receptionist at Bateman Battersby Lawyers. Whilst in this position I had a high focus in engaging with clients, attention to detail and managing client records with emphasise on confidentiality.
Over the past few years, I’ve been working towards my Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) at Western Sydney University with a sub-major in Child and Community. I currently live in Hazelbrook, with my partner and 3 children. When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my family, bike riding and exploring the Blue Mountains.

Katelyn Eather - Administration Assistant
Administration Assistant

Katelyn Eather

I joined Thrive Services as an Admin Assistant in 2022. Prior to working at Thrive Services, I was an Early Childhood Educator. During my time as an Early Childhood Educator, I enjoyed getting to know the children and their families and helping them reach their goals. I graduated from the University of Western Sydney with a bachelor’s degree in Humanitarian and Development Studies. I also have a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care. I currently live in the Hawkesbury Area. When I am not working at Thrive, you will often find me hanging out with my dogs or playing basketball.

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