Stride team members are experienced in practice, strategy, research, evaluation, policy, service design and the implementation and ongoing support of evidence-based programs. We are here to help agencies improve the outcomes for the children, young people and families they support.

  • Rob Ryan

    Rob Ryan

    National Executive Lead

    Rob has worked in the community services sector for over 30 years and currently leads the Stride team as the National Executive Lead, Emerging Business. 

    Rob was the former Chief Executive Officer of Key Assets and has had various senior roles with the Queensland State Government for a period of nineteen years. 

    In 2009, Rob was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study child protection internationally. Rob was the former Chair of the Forde Foundation Board of Advice in Queensland. He was the Deputy Convenor on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Advisory Council and currently sits as a Board Director with Create Foundation and NAPCAN. Rob is the Chair of the Children in Care Collective and holds a Bachelor of Social Work, Post Graduate Certificates (Family Therapy, HR and IR) and a Master of Professional Education and Training and is a Justice of the Peace. 

  • Tracey Ashton

    Tracey Ashton

    Senior Project Officer, Design and Innovation, Children and Families

    Tracey brings over 25 years of experience in NSW's Education and Human Services sectors and is committed to promoting Aboriginal self-determination in all areas of social policy. Commencing her career as a teacher on the south coast of NSW, Tracey has worked in leadership roles in child protection and out-of-home care in the government and non-government sectors. She worked as an independent reviewer on the Family is Culture Review into Aboriginal children in out-of-home care, chaired by Professor Megan Davis, from 2016 until 2019. 

    Tracey is a passionate advocate and ally for all children, parents, and families impacted by the child protection system, and actively promotes the role of family and community in children’s lives. She co-founded Shoalhaven Illawarra Families Together (SHIFT) in NSW in 2022. 

  • Melinda Clarke

    Melinda Clarke

    Manager, Child Safe Organisation

    Melinda has 25 years of experience in government and non-government sectors in child and family services, disability services, child protection and out-of-home care.  

    Melinda has worked in leadership roles in service delivery, quality management, contract management, investigations and reviews, policy development, practice support and service design and evaluation.  

    Since 2014, Melinda has led child safe organisation work at Life Without Barriers, driving the We Put Children First child sexual abuse prevention campaign and other initiatives. 

  • Jessica Cocks

    Jessica Cocks

    Manager Research, Design and Innovation, Children and Families

    Jessica has over 30 years’ experience in child and family social work practice, service design and research with interests in family inclusion in child protection, peer parent and family advocacy and out-of-home care. She is also an experienced social work researcher with interests in family participation and inclusion in child protection and out-of-home care processes including peer parent and family advocacy and support.  

    Jessica has a strong record of accomplishment in collaboration and partnership with parents and family with lived experience of child protection processes. She is the co-founder of one of Australia’s leading family inclusion organisations – Family Inclusion Strategies in the Hunter.  Jessica is a founding Director of the International Parent Advocacy Network and holds an adjunct academic appointment with the School of Social Work, University of Newcastle. 

    Jessica leads service design research and innovation in Stride. 

  •  Suellen Lembke

    Suellen Lembke

    Mgr EB Programs Implementation

    Suellen joined LWB in 2014 in a national role. She has extensive experience in the delivery and management of interventions and programs, primarily for juvenile offenders in custodial and community environments in Australia and the UK noting these young people often present in both the care and justice systems. Since joining LWB she has also supported program research and interventions for young people in and transitioning from care. Her particular interest and expertise is in the growth and implementation of evidence based programs and practices.

    Suellen has written evaluation frameworks and consulted on methodologies for large scale program evaluations and has worked in the area of implementation expertise for a state government agency and for a large NGO in London.

    Suellen has held senior management roles in government and non-government organisations and executive positions in government.

  • Maree Machin

    Maree Machin

    Business Development Lead

    Bringing together deep experience in the development of human service programs and organisations and business, Maree enables business units and organisations to unlock innovation and optimise great service. 

    Her key skills include strategy and tactics, evaluation, design, appreciative inquiry, and the preparation of compelling pitches. 

  • Veronica Marin

    Veronica Marin

    Manager of Program Implementation for the CARE model

    Veronica has a BSocWk, MCouns, is a consultant and TCI Instructor with the Residential Childcare Project at Cornell University. As the Manager of Program Implementation for the CARE model in the Stride team, Veronica leads the growth and development of the CARE model in Australia and is a CARE consultant supporting agencies adopting CARE in Australia.

    Veronica has over 25 years’ experience working with children and families in diverse settings, including schools, disability services, residential care and child and family therapy. 

  • Dr. Belinda Mayfield

    Dr. Belinda Mayfield

    Practice Consultant

    Dr Belinda, PhD, supports practice quality at a program and system level. Belinda studied social work and has over 40 years’ experience in the child protection and out-of-home care field.  

    Dr Belinda has a particular interest in evidence informed practice, which was the focus of her doctoral study and bridging the ‘know-do gap’. Dr Belinda was led the implementation of CARE in Life Without Barriers in October 2015 and has trained as a CARE Educator and TCI trainer. She now supports other agencies in Australia as a CARE consultant with the Residential Childcare Project. 

  • Courtney Patterson

    Courtney Patterson

    Practice Consultant CARE Model

    Courtney has a BSocWk, is a Practice Consultant, and TCI Instructor with the Residential Childcare Project at Cornell University. Courtney has worked in the Out-of-home care sector in Australia since 2009 across multiple settings including early intervention with families, foster care, residential care and child and family therapy. 

    In her previous role at Life Without Barriers, Courtney supported the implementation of CARE and TCI nationally. Courtney has a strong interest in neurodiversity and complex needs and continues to expand her knowledge in this area through post graduate studies in autism studies and mental health.  

  • Chris Skinner

    Chris Skinner

    Manager Practice Advancement & Implementation - MOCKINGBIRD FAMILY™

    Chris Skinner has over 23 years’ experience in child protection and out-of-home care in both government and non-government sectors. As a graduate of the University of Newcastle in Social Science, his experience has ranged from front-line casework, operational management, the support and training of practitioners across the nation and delivering evidence informed programs and practice. 

    As a CARE Educator and TCI Trainer, Chris appreciates the opportunities to see practitioners develop, grow and be inspired in good practice. Furthermore, his engaging, humorous and heartfelt approach to the sector he seeks to serve is fuelled by a passion to see children and young people thrive in all that they do. 

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