About Our Team

Ann Nitschke

Ann Nitschke

Co-founder and Managing Director

Ann is a registered nurse with over 50 years’ experience and whose entire nursing career has focused on the provision of high-quality personalized support to clients who are aged or have a disability and wanted to use her expertise and passion for the industry to train the next generation of support staff. Her favourite thing about her role is being able to work with people who are as committed as she is to achieving the Akadia vision.

When she isn’t in the office she can be found walking, either with her dog Cody at dawn or away on a multi-day hike in a place most of us can’t pronounce.

Qualifications: Registered Nurse, Cert IV Disability, Cert IV Training and Assessment, Diploma of Management, Diversional Therapist.

Simon Jakins

Simon Jakins

Co-founder and Managing Director

Prior to founding Akadia, Simon had a fulfilling career in the Army where he gained valuable experience in training systems and operations management that helped his transition into leading a registered training organisation.  His favourite thing about Akadia is that he gets to work with a team of passionate people who share the Akadia vision. 

Simon is a competitively social tennis player, or socially competitive depending on the way you look at it.  It may surprise you to know that yoga is also one of his loves, it allows him to play tennis and playing tennis means he needs to go to yoga.

Qualifications: Diploma of Training and Assessment Systems, Student of Life

Sandra Nitschke

Sandra Nitschke

Director – Business Development

After a fulfilling career in the higher education sector, Sandra moved back to Toowoomba from Canberra to join Akadia as a member of the leadership team focussed on business development and brand awareness.  Sandra has lived and worked in both Japan and Brazil and has always loved traveling and learning new languages. 

Promoting and celebrating the important work that Akadia is doing is her favourite part of her job and she loves working for a place that is really making a difference in the world. As a mother of two young girls she is proud to be raising young women to rule the world.  

Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts

Heidi Wilkinson

Heidi Wilkinson

Community Nurse and Trainer

Heidi is a Registered Nurse providing complex health supports to clients with disabilities and training to the staff who support them in the community.

Prior to studying her Nursing degree, she spent over 5 years working in the disability support industry as a personal carer.

Working with Akadia allows Heidi to join her two passions which are improving the lives of people with disabilities and providing health and nursing care to those in need.

Heidi’s favourite time of year is the Autumn months, when the temperature has cooled down but the sun shines brighter than ever, and the air feels clearer.

Qualifications: Registered Nurse

Michelle Doherty

Michelle Doherty

Coordinator – Online Development

Michelle began her career as an accountant working on special projects for companies like the Golden Casket, Boeing Australia and London Electricity.  She then moved to teaching English to speakers of other languages and on to training teachers and also training trainers.  In the move to language teaching,  she also became very involved in online learning and have developed online courses as well as trained through them for nearly 10 years. 

Michelle feels that everyone knows someone that needs support or care and that should be provided by an appropriately trained care-giver and sees Akadia as playing a vital role to help to make that a reality.  

Michelle is always working on some kind of new craft project and especially loves hobbytex. 

Qualifications: Bachelor of Accounting and Information Technology

Ashleigh Molloy

Ashleigh Molloy

Trainer/Assessor – Disability

After 10 years working as a support worker Ashleigh wanted to use her passion for the industry to train future workers so she moved into being a trainer and assessor. 

The thing that she loves most about working at Akadia is that she is able to provide a truly individualised service to students to meet their learning needs.  Working at Akadia also gives her the flexibility to spend time with her family and doing things that she enjoys like going to the gym.  Somewhat surprisingly while she admits to knowing close to nothing about trucking some of her favourite shows are Outback Truckers and Highway through Hell.  Ashleigh is also an op shop fanatic and every new outfit she wears to the office always has a story to tell.

Qualifications: Certificate IV Training and Assessment, Certificate III in Individual Support,  Certificate IV Disability, Certificate IV Leadership and Management

Katrina Meara

Katrina Meara

Community Nurse and Trainer/Assessor

Katrina’s role includes training students for Cert lll in Aged Care, delivering VET in Schools training to school students undertaking Cert ll Health Service Support, and industry specific workshops. She has also recently commenced working with the Community Care arm of Akadia.

After completing her training as a Registered Nurse at the Royal Brisbane Hospital in 1991 she moved to Toowoomba and worked mainly at St. Vincent’s and then later at Clifton Community Health Services. She also spent a few years teaching with the Health and Life Sciences Faculty at TAFE Queensland.

Katrina’s favourite thing about working at Akadia is that it allows her to share her passion for aged and dementia care.  Living on a mixed farm west of Toowoomba she is grateful for the wide-open spaces and fresh air.

Qualifications: Registered Nurse, Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, Graduate Certificate in Palliative Care, Diploma of Dementia Care.  Currently studying a Diploma in Clinical Aromatherapy, focusing on aged and palliative care.

Sue Hoopmann

Sue Hoopmann

Trainer/Assessor

Sue has extensive experience in both aged care and disability having managed a large aged care and disability service. She has also worked as both a Registered Nurse in community nursing and case manager before coming to Akadia as a trainer.  

In addition to the aged care and disability qualifications, Sue also trains case management and the medication unit of competency.  Sue loves working for Akadia because of the collegial nature of the business and the people she gets to works with.  Sue has enjoyed being a part of the growth and development of the business and is excited by the plans Akadia has for the future. 

Sue has a passion for photography and living in the Condamine Gorge loves taking photos of the wildlife, especially the birds.   

Qualifications: Registered Nurse, Post Graduate Certificate in Health Services Management, Cert IV in Disability, Certificate IV Training and Assessment.

Shelley Bowtell

Shelley Bowtell

Trainer/Assessor – Aged Care

Shelley has been a Trainer/Assessor for Akadia for 4 years and currently trains Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing).  While she loves most aspects of her job she says by far the most rewarding is to see the sense of achievement on the faces of her students when they accomplish something they didn’t think they could. Most of her working life has been in the aged care sector, 8 years as an Assistant in Nursing and 10 years as a Registered Nurse.  

When she is not working she loves spending time with her family, enjoys reading and doing the odd bit of interior decorating.   Shelley is very much a morning person and starts every day watching the birds from her front verandah.

Qualifications: Bachelor of Nursing, Graduate Diploma of Psychology, Certificate IV in Training and Assessment

Karen Pearce

Karen Pearce

Community Nurse and Trainer

Karen is a Registered Nurse with extensive experience in the disability sector, in community nursing and in acute and clinical care environments.

Karen is devoted to providing excellent healthcare and prides herself on paying attention to detail and bringing a caring smile to patients of all ages and needs.  Working at Akadia enables Karen to provide quality healthcare to people in their own homes in a friendly and supportive environment.  

Outside of the office Karen is quite the artist and enjoys making the most amazing mosaics.

Qualifications: Registered Nurse

Heather Smith

Heather Smith

Trainer

Heather Smith is an accredited First Aid and CPR  instructor with more than 35 years’ experience in various organisations including military service with the RAAF, Education Queensland and in small business as an Allied Health Professional.  

Heather is a dynamic trainer and prides herself on always ensuring her courses are interactive and enjoyable.

Heather is a first aid officer at sporting events, car club events, and the Toowoomba Winter Shelter where she has applied her skills in many emergency situations. 

Qualifications: Bachelor of Education, Diploma of Vocational Education and Training, Diploma of Training Design and Development.  Mental Health First Aid Australia Accredited Instructor. First Aid and CPR Accredited Instructor. 

Calliope Kirwan

Calliope Kirwan

Receptionist

Calliope first started working at training organisations in 2017 as a trainee studying a Certificate III in Business. Once she completed she stayed on in the role as she enjoyed the satisfaction of being able to provide excellent customer service to students.

Calliope is the admin extraordinaire at Akadia and is the friendly face everyone gets to see as they first arrive.  Her favourite thing about working for Akadia is the interactions with the students and the friendships and community of the staff. She is looking forward to the ever growing student base and the opportunity to assist people learning and growing in the Disability and Aged Care industries and workforce.

Fun fact: She has made eye contact with Daniel Radcliff!  A life goal of hers is to walk in Central Park (NY) during Christmas snow.  

Qualifications: Certificate III in Business

Kylie Nichol

Kylie Nichol

Administration Officer – Community Care

Kylie’s role is to assist with Community Care enquiries along with supporting the Community Care Nursing team.

The thing that she values most about working at Akadia is knowing that she is part of a supportive and compassionate team who values integrity and strive to achieve optimal outcomes for clients through high quality support and care.

Kylie has two young sons who love outdoor adventures, and spend most weekends going for bike rides, bush walks and playing at the park.

Faye Prufert

Faye Prufert

Online Marker

Faye has spent 42 years working for the Queensland Government in the Disability Sector. Faye was a direct support worker for the first 20 years of her career. The following years were spent in supervisory roles, until she followed her interest in supporting new support staff to gain their Certificate IV in Disability.

After her retirement from the government, Faye joined the team at Akadia as an Online Marker.

The thing Faye loves the most about working at Akadia is the flexibility. Working for Akadia makes her feel like she is still contributing to the Disability sector, but still gives her the time to follow her passion of helping animals, by volunteering for RSPCA Qld and spending time cross stitching.

QUALIFICATIONS 

Certificate IV in Training and Assessment

Certificate IV in Disability

Holly

Holly

Chief Staff Health and Wellbeing Officer

Holly began her career as a part time admin support officer to her mum Michelle while she was recuperating from a knee operation.  She made a great impression on the entire team through her willingness to help out and provide emotional support.  While Holly has an open door policy she also regularly does the rounds around the office to check in on everyone, especially if she hears the microwave.  

 

Qualifications:  Certificate in Hugs and Listening Ears, Diploma in Negotiation (ie. always gets what she wants)