FASD-CAN announces new CEO

FASD-CAN is very happy to introduce our members to our brand-new CEO, Stephanie James-Sadler.

Stephanie is based in Lower Hutt and has worked for nearly 20 years in management roles in the government and NGO/Not for Profit sectors. When she steps into her FASD-CAN role on January 8, Stephanie will have worked for Caring Families Aotearoa as National Support Manager for almost a decade.

Prior to that, education played a large part of Stephanie’s background. She began her career as a primary school teacher before moving onto specialising in teaching Deaf/hearing-impaired tamariki. From 2004-2014 Stephanie was Manager of Special Education for the Ministry of Education. She led a team of 17 specialists from various disciplines to work in schools with staff, parents and ākonga/students with disabilities, communication difficulties and challenging behaviours.

She advised on policy and structural change for caregivers at Child, Youth and Family; chaired the Strengthening Families Service and in her early years was a youth worker, too.

FASD-CAN is privileged to add Stephanie’s lived experience as a caregiver to that of the rest of our board members.

As she says: “Caregiving for eleven years is one of my greatest achievements. It has influenced my life choices and helped me empathise with caregivers, parents and whānau living with challenging situations – while also celebrating small moments of success.”

We asked Stephanie a couple of extra questions…

What is your personal experience of FASD?

"My first connection into the FASD world in Aotearoa was through a previous colleague, Catriona (Cat) Ward, who is parenting a FASD tamaiti tāne. I then had the opportunity in my role to collaborate with Christine Rogan (of Alcohol Healthwatch) and FASD-CAN in hosting Tracy Mastrangelo and Dr Jacqueline Pei in Aotearoa and organised their speaking tour. 

Since then, my professional role has always been interwoven with supporting caregivers who describe the challenges they are facing with their tamariki or rangatahi and with more investigation suspect they might have FASD features and want to know more. It’s been a privilege supporting and working with Denise Green, Anna Gundesen and Ruruhana Brownie over the years, encouraging caregivers and empowering them in their knowledge of FASD and connecting them to FASD-CAN. 

What do you think are the biggest challenges for people living with FASD in Aotearoa?

Accessing support services across all sectors, having FASD recognised as a disability in Aotearoa, building empathy and acceptance across society, helping whānau access low-cost assessment and building the understanding of FASD best practice across education, health and justice.   

What are you most looking forward to in your new role?

Serving FASD-CAN by helping advance the amazing work that has already begun in addressing the challenges I have mentioned above. I look forward to meeting and getting to know FASD-CAN members, those who work for and with this organisation; and to being a kaitiaki of FASD-CAN alongside its Governance Board.