We are excited to host a wide range of respected speakers from across Africa. Profiles are organised in keynote, panelists and abstract presenters.
Standard Bank Wealth CEO
Margaret Nienaber has been appointed Chief Executive, Standard Bank Wealth. Ms Nienaber has 19 years’ experience in financial services and will oversee Standard Bank’s Wealth division, which encompasses the Group’s Investments, Fiduciary and Insurance businesses, as well as its High Net Worth Wealth offering. It spans across the African continent and other Offshore jurisdictions where the Standard Bank Group has a footprint.
Professor Hlengiwe Buhle Mkhize
Deputy Minister of Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities of South Africa
Prof Hlengiwe Buhle Mkhize was the Minister of Higher Education and Training of the Republic of South Africa with effect from 17 October 2017 until 26 February 2018. Prof Mkhize holds a BA degree in Psychology, Social Work, and Sociology from the University of Zululand obtained in 1976; a BA Honours in Psychology from the University of Natal obtained in 1978; and a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Natal obtained in 1981. Prof Mkhize is Honorary Professor of Psychology at the University of South Africa and is studying towards a PhD through the University of Natal.
United Nations Resident Coordinator
Nardos Bekele-Thomas has influenced growth and development on the African continent for nearly 30 years through top positions in the governments of multiple nations and at the United Nations. She now holds the positions of Resident Coordinator of the United Nations and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program in South Africa.
Holding a master’s degree and a PhD Candidate certificate in Economic Development, Monetary Economics and Econometrics from New York University, Bekele-Thomas has authored several papers and monographs and is fully bilingual in French and English. She is a member of numerous professional organizations including the Allied Social Sciences Associations and the American Economic Association.
Ms Catherine Wanjiru Maina
Acting Secretary, African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of Children (ACERWC)
Ms. Maina graduated from the University of Nairobi in 1989 with a BA-Sociology and Linguistics and joined Laikipia Research Program as a Research Assistant. In 1990, she was employed as a Children’s Officer in the Dept. of Children Services (Kenya).In the same year she undertook a Post Graduate Diploma in Population Studies at the UoN.1992-2002 she served as a District Children Officer in various districts.2002-03 she pursued an MA-International Child Welfare at the University of East Anglia (UK).2004-2008 Ms. Maina served as Manager in Nairobi Children Home, the only Government Babies Rescue Center in Kenya. She then served as an Assistant Director of Children Services in charge of Nairobi Province until 2012 when she joined the AU.
Dr Najat Maalla M’jid
United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence against Children
Dr. M'jid, a medical doctor in paediatrics, has over the last three decades devoted her life to the promotion and protection of children’s rights. She was Head of the Paediatric Department and Director of the Hay Hassani Mother-Child hospital in Casablanca. Dr. M'jid is a member of the Moroccan National Council on Human Rights and founder of the non-governmental organisation Bayti, the first programme addressing the situation of children living and working in the streets of Morocco. From 2008 to 2014, she served as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
Dr. M’jid holds a Doctorate in general medicine from the University of Rabat, a specialization in paediatrics and neonatology from the University of Bordeaux II and a Master’s of Human Rights from the Human Rights Institute, Geneva. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honours for her strong commitment to protecting the rights of the child.
Department of Social Development
Ms Lindiwe Zulu is the Minister of Social Development in South Africa. She obtained a Master’s degree in journalism. Ms Zulu is particularly interested in issues relating to the promotion and protection of the rights of vulnerable groups (women, children, youth, and people with disabilities amongst others.
Dr Ann Skelton
Advocate, Child Law Centre
From 1999 to 2003, she was the National Project Coordinator of the Child Justice Project. This was a United Nations technical assistance project of the South African Government. The project won an Impumelelo Award for innovation.
Dr Skelton has presented papers at numerous conferences across the world and has published widely on child law and restorative justice. Dr Skelton has lectured both undergraduate and postgraduate students. She has travelled extensively and is a member of various national and international bodies dealing with human rights and children’s rights.
Before being appointed to director’s position at the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Child Law, Dr Skelton was the Project Coordinator for the Children’s Litigation Project at the same centre.
Ms. Muhigana holds a master’s degree in Political Science and International Relations as well as a master's degree in Maritime and Air Law from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Belgium). Ms Christine Muhigana took up her duties as UNICEF Representative in the Republic of South Africa on 3 September 2020. Prior to her appointment to this position, she was the UNICEF Representative in the Central African Republic (CAR) for three year, from April 2017 to July 2020. During her tenure, she led the UNICEF team in increasing the immunization coverage, school enrolment, protection of children and treatment of severe malnutrition, through building systems and responding to humanitarian shocks.
Senior Advisor, Global Partnership to End Violence
Sabine Rakotomalala is Dutch and Swiss. After growing up in Geneva, Switzerland she got her Master’s Degree in Child Psychology from the University of Utrecht, Netherlands. She started her career with WHO in 2002 where she supported the launch of the first ever World Report on Violence and Health. In 2005 she joined Terre des hommes in Brazil and then at HQ to support programs on violence against children and psychosocial distress in both humanitarian and development settings. In 2013 she joined UNICEF as Deputy Coordinator of the Child Protection Working Group. Since 2016, Ms Rakotomalala is leading the work on Country Engagement for the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children. She is outposted in WHO’s Department for Social Determinants of Health (Violence Prevention Unit). Her work consists of bringing together key partners from different sectors around the prevention of violence against children; supporting pathfinding countries in their efforts to scale up violence prevention efforts; ensuring the dissemination and implementation of INSPIRE, seven strategies to end violence against children; raising funds for the sector; and supporting the Executive Committee. Ms Rakotomalala is also a long-standing member of the Swiss Board of the Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation.
Dr Edward Addai
UNICEF Country Representative to Ethiopia and the African Union
Dr Edward Addai is originally a public health physician, specialized in policy analysis, planning, monitoring and evaluation. He is a systems thinker and an expert in results-based management and programme design. He started his career as a clinician and district medical office in Ahafo Ano South, a small district in Ghana and worked his way to become the Director of Policy Planning Monitoring and Evaluation in Ghana. He is currently the UNCEF Representative to the African Union and UNECA. Prior to taking on this role he was the Regional Chief of Programme Planning Monitoring and Evaluation, UNICEF ESARO and before this was the Director of Monitoring and Evaluation in the Global Fund.
Social Work Manager: Child Protection Service at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital
Mrs Carla Brown is the head of Social Work, Child Protection Services at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. She joined the Hospital in 1995 and is an extraordinary woman with a heart of gold and strong in her leadership and advocacy for vulnerable children. Carla has three focus areas: violence against children and women and the impact it has on health care services; the lack of therapeutic resources to help children heal from their multiple traumas experienced; and that healthcare staff need more consistent, standardised mental healthcare and general wellness resources to keep the service robust and responsive to the needs of the community.
Regional Coordinator for Africa, ECPAT International
Willy Buloso is a highly motivated and results-oriented Manager with extensive experience in the management of human rights and humanitarian programs in Africa. Regional Coordinator for Africa at ECPAT International, since 2017. Responsible for providing leadership towards ECPAT’s advocacy and programming work against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in all Sub-Sahara African countries. Had previously worked for the International Criminal Court, Human Rights watch and the United Nations Mission in Mali.
Holds a Master degree in Law and International relations from the University of Lyon 3 in France and an International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance from Fordham University in New York, USA. Fluent in Swahili, English and French. Passionate about wildlife conservation and proud member of the WWF campaign to save the gorilla habitat in the Virunga National Park.
Advocate Carina Coetzee
Adv Carina Coetzee is a Senior Public Prosecutor at the national office of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). From 2000 to 2010, she was the Senior Public Prosecutor for Child & Sexual Offences at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court and supervised the dedicated Sexual Offences Courts. From 2011 to 2014 she was stationed at the Director of Public Prosecutions, Gauteng Local Division: Johannesburg where she was responsible for the prosecution of offences in the High Court, and specifically cases where infants had died due to inflicted non-accidental injuries. Currently she is stationed at the Sexual Offences & Community Affairs (SOCA) unit of the NPA with, inter alia, Human-Trafficking and sexual offences as portfolios.
Ms Coetzee provides training on a national level to prosecutors and other relevant service providers regarding offences against children including murder, sexual offences, GBV and trafficking in persons.
Director, Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children (KAACR)
Timothy Ekesa is the Executive Director of Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children (KAACR) – a membership body of over 250 NGOs in Kenya. He has over 20 years’ experience of working with children in Kenya having held various positions from a program officer, coordinator, deputy director and now director. As the head of KAACR – which is an NGO with ECOSOC at the UN and ACRWC, member of ECPAT International and Global Movement against VAC, he is actively involved in local, national and international child rights lobbying and advocacy work. KAACR being the secretariat of the NGO Child Rights Committee, he is tasked with the function of ensuring that the committee monitors implementation of child rights issues. At the national level, he is involved in compilation of the national reports and alternative reports on Kenya’s implementation of UNCRC and ACRWC, and guided the participation of children in the reporting process from grassroots to Geneva, Switzerland.
He has wide experience in children matters having been a panelist at the 13th session of the Human Rights Council Rights of the Child Day in 2010 in Geneva.
CEO, Authentic Leadership
As CEO of Janine Hills Authentic Leadership, her business knowledge, skills, and intricate understanding of leadership are the outcome of more than 38 years of experience across many industries. Janine believes trust is key to improving business relationships with all stakeholders, supported and enhanced by integrity in business practices – including transparency, discipline, accountability, and fairness. She believes in being consistent, sincere, responsible, reliable, committed, clear, steady, and maintaining effective communication at all levels, in good times and bad. She values the opportunity to share with clients the fruits of her business experience, particularly her understanding of the principles of visionary leadership. She has built a culturally diverse group of alliance partners who understand Africa and have years of experience in these areas. Janine and her team are working to equip both new and experienced leaders with the mindsets and practices to be excellent.
Chief Social Policy and Child Protection, UNICEF
Mayke Huijbregts is currently the Chief of Social Policy and of Child Protection at UNICEF in South Africa. She is passionate about working with partners to reduce poverty, inequalities, violence against children and accelerate investments in child care. She has worked with UNICEF for over 20 years in the areas of social policy and social protection, child rights and child protection in 7 countries like Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Mayke started her career with the European Commission in Brussels, and then worked for the Human Rights Watch and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. A Dutch citizen, she holds a LLM in Law from Amsterdam University with a specialization in international law and undertook many senior courses and gave lectures on human rights, leadership, social protection and child protection. She is a mother of a precious girl.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of GovChat.Org, the Official Citizen Engagement Platform for the South African Government. Eldrid Jordaan is a former Ministerial Special Advisor and served as a Advisory Board Member at Mxit.Eldrid Jordaan currently serves as Digital Communications Advisor to various African Governments and is a United States of America Department of State IVLP Alumni.
Ms Edith Kriel
Social Worker, Jelly Beanz
Edith Kriel is a social worker who has specialized in working with traumatised children for the last 24 years. She developed the Teddy Bear Clinic into a multi-level service, initiated the Child Witness Project in the Western Cape and developed the Healing Project for children that have been sexually abused and co-authored the book ‘Voices of Hope- Healing stories for Africa’s children’. Edith often presents multiple multi-disciplinary workshops on a range of child trauma related topics. She initiated and developed the anatomical doll project in South Africa.
National Executive Officer, Childline SA
Ms Nala's professional background is in Social Work. After graduating from the University of KwaZulu Natal, she worked for Childline KwaZulu Natal for a period of 4 years and left the organisation holding the Assstant Director position. Ms Nala then relocated to the United Kingdom where she worked and lived for a period of 8 years. During this period, Ms Nala worked in multidisciplinary teams gaining extensive knowledge & experience in child protection, child mental health, foster care and adoption.
In 2008 Ms Nala moved back to South Africa where she joined Childline National Office as the Assistant National Director. In May 2009 she became the National Executive Officer of Childline South Africa. She currently holds this position. From 2015 to 2016 Ms Nala was the Africa Region’s Representative within the structures of Child Helpline International and served on the advisory board of Child Helpline International. This position saw her interact and strategize with many African countries on the development and growth of Child Helplines in the African Region. Ms Nala is passionate to see in her lifetime an Africa that joins forces in the protection of an African Child and the upholding of the African Child’s rights.
Ms Christina Nomdo
Western Cape, Children's Commissioner
Christina Nomdo is serving as the child rights specialist Commissioner on the National Planning Commission (NPC) for the last 4 years. During this time, she has conducted a child participation initiative to get feedback directly from children about how the National Development Plan (NDP) should be reviewed to include the perspectives of children. Therefore, in 2017 and 2018, Christina worked with government and civil society partners in the children’s sector to conduct workshops with children in all nine provinces of South Africa.. For the past 3 years (2017-2019), Christina conducted youth development programmes and mentorship in the library at Belhar High School, her alma mater, in a voluntary capacity. Her Masters degree from the Environmental and Geographical Sciences Department at UCT is focused on gendered social networks of survival which profiles women’s experiences in Manenberg and Guguletu. She is currently a PhD candidate at UCT in public law focusing on children’s rights.
Dr Shaheda Omar
Clinical Director of Teddy Bear Foundation
As Clinical Director of The Teddy Bear Foundation in Johannesburg, a multi-disciplinary facility for abused and neglected children. She achieved both a Bachelor of Arts degree and Honours in Social Work through UNISA. She has also attained diplomas in Medical Technology, Marriage Guidance and Counseling, as well as Sexual Abuse Evaluation. She then went on to complete her Masters in Mental Health and PhD in Childhood Sexual Abuse at the University of Johannesburg. Many of her research articles have been published in the academic sphere and she’s done presentations at national and international conferences on the subject of child abuse.
Marita Rademeyer is a clinical psychologist and co-founder of the Child Trauma Clinic in Pretoria. She has helped children and their caregivers deal with the effects of child abuse and neglect, rape, violence and crime, HIV/AIDS, cancer, youth awaiting trial and clients with physical and mental disabilities. Her special interest is play therapy with traumatized children.
Director, Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance in South Africa
Maurice Smithers is the Director of SAAPA SA. He has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Planning and an MSC in Development Planning. The focus of his Master’s research was the relationship between alcohol licensing and municipal planning.
He has written and commentated on a variety of topics, including alcohol policy. He co-produced a book on political posters called Images of Defiance in 1991 and wrote an ethnographic report on his work in Yeoville Bellevue which was published by Wits University as part of a series of planning-related books. He has been commissioned by Wits University Press to author a book on the history and social impact of alcohol for publication in 2021.
Nonhlanhla has a career spanning over 20 years, working for some of the leading players in banking and broadcasting in South Africa and the rest of the African continent. During her career she acquired immense business, strategy development, stakeholder management and innovation skills. Most recently, she has been at the forefront of introducing corporate governance initiatives in the broadcasting industry, which have included the implementation of a contracts management forum and a legal compliance conference.
Her drive and passion for education has seen her simultaneously enrolling for a Master’s in Business Administration at Henley Business School and an LLM in International Commercial Law (UK).
Nonhlanhla also holds a myriad of other qualifications, including a certificate in motor mechanics and a qualification in Business Digital Strategy from Emeritus.
Her passion for building a healthy society, creating opportunities for others and utilising her skills and networks to uplift others have always underpinned Nonhlanhla’ s personal and professional journeys. This has led her to use her platform to create awareness on social issues like the scourge gender-based violence.
She is working on a few articles relating to GBV and the other social issues. Her biggest drive to is see emancipated societies ,hence she is always advocating for the concept of a hand up. Nonhlanhla’s motto is ‘always roll down the ladder for others’!
Ms Dorine van der Keur
Ms Dorine van der Keur is leading the research project Disrupting Harm for ECPAT International. Disrupting Harm is a study on the context, threats, and children’s perspectives of online child sexual exploitation and abuse in 14 countries. Before her work on Disrupting Harm, she led ECPAT’s human rights reporting with the Committee on the Rights of the Child and other UN mechanisms. She also coordinated the Global Study on Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism, launched in 2016. Dorine is a lawyer by profession. She practiced commercial law for nine years with the biggest law firm of The Netherlands and quoted as a young promising lawyer in the “Quote Professionals Guide” in 2002. In 2002 Dorine transitioned into the field of improving access to justice for the poor and vulnerable, working with a wide array of organisations in Southeast and Central Asia. Her work includes project management, research, capacity building and evaluations with an emphasis on child's rights, land rights and women’s rights.
Dr Joan van Niekerk
Child Rights Consultant
South African child rights activist and former Director of Childline, Dr Joan van Niekerk, graduated with a PhD in Social Work.
Van Niekerk is a child rights and child protection consultant and co-author of A Practical Approach to the Child Justice Act. She completed a Master’s degree in Medical Science (Medical and Psychiatric Social Work) at the former University of Durban-Westville in 1983 and has worked in the field of child protection for 28 years. She has actively promoted the prevention of child rights violations and abuse, as well as appropriate responses to abused children and their families. She has considerable experience in working with children in conflict with the law; particularly those who have committed offences against other children. Van Niekerk spent 24 years at Childline, initially as Director of Childline KwaZulu-Natal and then as National Co-ordinator of Childline South Africa. She chaired the South African Law Reform Commission Project Committee on Sexual Offences and participated in consultations that resulted in the initial drafts of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 and the Child Justice Act 75 of 2008.
Dr Chantell Witten
Chairperson for the Child Health Priorities Association and Nutrition Lead for SACSoWACH
Chantell is a registered Dietitian with an MSc from the University of the Western Cape (UWC). She is currently a senior lecturer, University of the Free State, and is in her final year of her PhD. Chantell’s work experience spans 25 years across several sectors namely public health, the UN, the NGO sector, academia and the food industry. During the last 10 years, Chantell has predominantly worked in the area of infant and young child feeding. A significant highlight of Chantell’s work was the gazetting of the Regulations Relating to Foodstuff for Infant and Young Child Feeding, R991 in 2012 while Chantell served as the Nutrition Specialist for UNICEF/South Africa.
Since joining the North West University in 2015, Chantell has been appointed for two consecutive terms to the National Department of Health’s Ministerial Committee for the Morbidity and Mortality of Children under 5 years, she is the lead for the Nutrition Working Group for the South African Civil Society for Women’s Adolescents and Children’s Health (SACSoWACH), and an executive member of the Child Health Priorities Committee. Chantell is also the Chair of the local organizing committee for the Child Health Priorities Conference 2019. Which will for the first time be hosted in the North West Province by the North West University.
Dr. Antoinette Basson is a registered Research Psychologist with the HPCSA and is currently employed as Senior Researcher at the Youth Research Unit of the Bureau of Market Research (Pty) Ltd at the University of South Africa (Unisa). She is a specialist researcher dedicated to the wellbeing and protection of children in South Africa and the African Continent. Her research focus areas include online sexual exploitation and victimisation, violence, and substance abuse. Since 2010, Dr. Basson has been the lead researcher of several national and international child protection research studies.
Cyndirela Chadambuka is a third year PhD candidate in the Department of Social Work at the University of Witwatersrand. Cyndirela is also a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Psychology at Wits University. Her research interests include intimate partner violence, women economic development and women’s rights in developing countries, migration and child protection issues.
Francesca Chetwin is a Clinical Psychologist in private practice in Johannesburg. She works with children, adolescents and adults in psychotherapy, and has worked intensively in child assessment. Francesca has a deep and abiding interest in Attachment Theory, having conducted her MA research in Attachment in the Apartheid Archives Project at Wits University.
Francesca is establishing Attachment Aware Schools South Africa, based at Bellavista SHARE in Johannesburg. She is working on her PhD, a pilot of AAS program in a Johannesburg school.
Media Monitoring Africa
Phakamile Khumalo has an Honors degree in Development Studies from Wits University. In 2019 she was listed as the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans in the civil society category. She describes herself as "Kasi girl" with a passion for youth development. She strongly believes and is committed to the kind of development that empowers communities to be at the forefront of their own growth. Her focus is on child online safety, digital rights and related policies.
Faith Nkomo is a Chief Social Worker at the Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children and has been with the organisation for nine years. She graduated from the University of Fort Hare with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work in 2006. She worked for Central Gauteng Mental Health Society for under 2 years before joining Ekupholeni Mental Health and Trauma Centre. Faith has 13 years of experience in the field. Most of her work has been in child protection. She is a dynamic person who is able to assess and recommend intervention strategies that improve the quality of life of various client systems. Faith has forensic assessment and play therapy skills.
Dr Garth Japhet
Garth Japhet is a medical doctor and the founding CEO of Heartlines. Heartlines develops research-based mass media campaigns and interventions that address key social issues in our communities.
In 1992, he co-founded the internationally-acclaimed Soul City, a multimedia edutainment project that addresses a variety of health issues. It has reached over 50-million people in 10 southern African countries through TV and radio drama series, written resources, community mobilisation, and advocacy initiatives. He was CEO for 17 years.
Garth is a Schwab Fellow of the World Economic Forum (WEF), sits on the WEF Global Future Council for the future of media and entertainment, is a fellow of the African Leadership Initiative and a Senior Ashoka Fellow, and has been awarded the global Everett M. Rogers Award for his contributions to entertainment education.
Executive Director, Love in Action
John Malanda,M.A. Peace and Développent, is currently Exécutive Director of Love in Action/Centre Oasis and ANNPCAN RD CONGO.
He is based un Bukavu,East of DR CONGO.
He has several years of expérience in advancing thé rights of children and thé promotion of gender equity.
He has been involved in Research, provision of holistic services to children(victims of human trafficking, child labour, commercial sexual exploitation,child marriage..)
Hé also empowers Girls and communities to prevent and respond to gender based violence and commercial sexual exploitation of children,with a focus on Early Forced Marriage.
He has been in collaboration with international organisations such as International Council of victims of torture (IRCT), International Society for prévention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN), ANPPCAN Régional Office- Kenya, Girls Not Brides....
Dr Annemarie Oberholzer
Annemarie, together with JellyBeanz, is the recipient of the 2019 IASP Developing Countries Project – Initiative for Improving Pain Education with her project: PEP-Talks on pain in children. She did a master’s degree in Intensive Nursing Care and worked for several years in a Paediatric ICU before being appointed as Child Support Coordinator, focusing on the psycho-social support of children in hospital. She has a doctorate in Professional Nursing Science and developed a model for the facilitation of support to empower children in healthcare. She then received a post-doctoral research fellowship at UNISA where she engaged in interdisciplinary research in the disciplines of Spirituality and Nursing, focussing on the spiritual care and support of children in healthcare.
Tarryn Jane Roy is a student and practitioner in the field of criminology. She holds an MA Criminology degree and is currently completing her DPhil in Criminal Justice through the University of South Africa. She is presently interning at the South African Police Service, as well as working with Khulisa Social Solutions and the Restorative Justice Centre on various projects focused on child justice and child-rights, women empowerment, gender-based violence and restorative justice. Tarryn is passionate about children and has dedicated her career to creating a safe, healthy and equal environment for all youth.
Bandile Seleme is a registered Drama Therapist and the Programme Manager for the Psychosocial Support Programme at Lawyers against Abuse (LvA). She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and Master of Arts in Drama Therapy from the University of the Witwatersrand and a National Diploma in Musical Theatre from Tshwane University of Technology. Bandile is interested in how drama therapy may be applied from an African perspective to achieve social transformation and justice through critical reflexivity and praxis. Possibly, ubuntu may advocate for a dialogical self to reimagine alternative ways of becoming a protagonist within her/his social context.
Counsellor and Program Facilitator
Nicolette has fifteen years experience of working with young people and families, a special interest in adolescent behaviour management and an Honours degree in Psychology. She has a passion for transformation, believing that with love and support people can change and that if young people are able to remain in school and given skills to navigate life in a positive manner, they are empowered to reach their dreams.
Jessica Wasserman is a Psychologist and has spent almost a decade working within the Western Cape Education Department, as a counsellor, classroom educator, and district psychologist, servicing primarily the gang-inflicted areas of the Cape Flats. In April 2020, Jessica launched Mind-the-Gap, her private consultancy practice, where she integrates her training in Psychology, Neuroscience and Yoga, to provide ‘wholistic’ intervention to children and families with her neighbouring, as well as broader, community. Over the past 4 years she has become increasingly aware of the large body of work related to trauma, and the enormous impact that trauma has on learning, emotions and behaviour. This has led to her delving into the world of traumatology and educational neuroscience, where she is currently participating in a 7 month training program in Traumatic Stress Studies, run by leading neuroscientist and trauma pioneer, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.