Meet the Open Doors Team

Chris Pickard

Chief Executive Officer

As soon as I heard about Open Doors, I knew I had to be involved. I began volunteering with the organisation years ago while I was employed elsewhere.  From the very first moment I entered the space – I was in love! As soon as an employment opportunity became available I applied and was fortunate enough to be successful. During my time at Open Doors I have held numerous roles: Youth and Family Support Worker, Team Leader, General Manager and most recently Chief Executive Officer.

Prior to working with Open Doors, I have worked in banking, HR (Training). What I have loved most in any previous position is the ability to be able to connect with people and I believe that this is the key component of the work we do at Open Doors. The benefit we get from meaningful connection with our peers and community is phenomenal and critical to the health and well-being of our young people.  I consider myself very lucky to have young people share their stories with me. It really is a privilege and something I do not take lightly. Our young people are our future leaders and deserve to be loved, nurtured and encouraged to live their best lives.

Currently I sit on numerous groups and advisory committees, all working towards improving outcomes and supports for our young people and community broadly.

I identify as a cis-gendered gay man and my pronouns are he/him.

Contact Chris at cpickard@opendoors.net.au

Sally Morris

Service Delivery Manager

Sally (she/her) has worked in mental health and suicide prevention over the last 20 years with an undergraduate Bachelor’s degree in human services. Her work has had a primary focus on improving the mental health of LGBTIQ people and communities by identifying, challenging, and addressing practices of structural stigma that has a detrimental impacts on health and wellbeing.

Sally’s work within the community sector has included case management, group facilitation, project management, writing policy and procedures, service coordination, community capacity building, sector development, development and delivery of professional development training, and network building and facilitation.

Sally has a particular interest in the role of social inclusion and belonging in mental health and completed a Masters of Development Practice (Community Development) through the University of Queensland in 2018.  As an advocate for building the capacity of peers at a community level to play an active role in suicide prevention, Sally is a trainer in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).

Beyond her employment Sally has consistently engaged in volunteer activities including being the co-founder of a volunteer run community group, Wendybird, which brings together a passionate and skilled group of LGBTIQ people that build and facilitate community spaces that foster belonging for those who are often excluded. Sally has published a number of articles in the areas of LGBTIQ people, suicide prevention, and disaster recovery, and regularly presents at conferences on LGBTIQ mental health, suicide prevention and inclusive practice.

Contact Sally at sally.morris@opendoors.net.au

Morgan Cullora

Mental Health Practitioner 

Morgan (she/her) is a mental health practitioner and counsellor who is passionate about supporting children and young people to have a voice within the counselling and mental health space. Over the last 8 years, she has supported the mental, emotional, and physical health of children, young people, and their families in a variety of community focused organisations.

Morgan has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a graduate diploma in counselling and therapeutic services and is currently studying a master’s in social work. Her work has often focused on improving the mental and emotional wellbeing of children and young people; by bringing trauma-informed practice to the forefront of service delivery. She has helped to identify gaps within the sector around the prevalence and presentation of developmental trauma, and has supported children, young people, and adults to manage the impacts of trauma and violence to facilitate the changes they want to make in their lives.

Morgan completed one of her student placements with Open Doors Youth Service in 2014 and stayed connected to the service, supporting the community and young people in a variety of ways. She genuinely enjoys connecting with children and young people, hearing their stories and helping them to find alternate explanations as to why they may feel the way that they do. She does not view herself as any kind of expert, more so as having a series of strengths and learned skills that can hopefully help a young person to explore their experiences and make sense of how they might like to be.

When she is not at Open Doors, you could find her at New Farm park with her Partner and Cavoodle named Pacino. Reading and soaking up some sun.

Mikarla Teague

Creative Arts Therapist & Group Facilitator 

Mikarla (she/her) is an Artist, Activist and Creative Arts Therapist who exhibits and facilitates both nationally and internationally within human rights and equality showcases and organisations. Mikarla is a proud and longstanding member of the LGBTIQ+ Community, joining Open Doors as their resident Group Facilitator and Creative Arts Therapist, most notably co-facilitating the Jelly Beans and the PRIDE Art Therapy Group Programs.

In 2017 Mikarla developed the PRIDE Art Therapy Program funded by the Queensland Mental Health Commission that is now delivered to over 70+ LGBTI+ young people per week in partnership with six other services; Brisbane Youth Service, Brisbane City Council’s Visible Inc, Headspace, Police-Citizens Youth Clubs and Jabiru Community Youth & Children’s Service.

Mikarla passionately believes in the powerful healing modality of the Arts and creative expression to encourage and empower young people to grow and transition into becoming the best and happiest versions of themselves within a supportive community of inclusivity and celebration. Mikarla is a creative bundle of positive energy, always laughing, loves animals, adventure, travel, and is passionate about creating a world of equality and freedom.

Contact Mikarla at mteague@opendoors.net.au

Nikki Whitmore

National Suicide Prevention Project Officer

Nikki (they/them) is a Queer Femme Social Worker with over 10 years’ experience supporting LGBTIQAP+ Sistergirl and Brotherboy young people and communities.

Nikki’s work is focused on the areas of suicide and violence prevention, inclusive clinical environments for health workers and organisations, and supporting school-wide approaches to affirming educational environments. Nikki is passionate about deepening our collective understanding of the impacts of discrimination and harm on young people’s social and emotional well-being. Their work aims to increase equity in the areas of health and education and to support the creation of communities where all young people feel an individual and collective sense of safety, belonging, dignity, support and agency.

Nikki’s practice is informed by Critical, Queer and Feminist theories and a deep belief in our collective ability to shape change.

When Nikki isn’t working their biggest loves include the ocean, marine mammals, octopuses, astrology, the moon, winter, ice-cream, glitter, reading & podcasts.

Contact Nikki at nikki.whitmore@opendoors.net.au

Evie Ryder

Alcohol & Other Drug Support Worker

Evie (she/her) is a transgender pansexual who is a social worker by education and has 17 years experience working with LGBTIQAP+ Sistergirl and Brotherboy young people and communities.  Evie has a history of working in AOD, mental health, sexual health, group work and training.  Evie is passionate about visibility and empowerment of all parts of the community.

Evie is our Alcohol and Other Drugs Support Worker who will have focus on supporting young people with their health and wellbeing, building resilience and belonging.

In her own time, Evie’s biggest loves include skateboarding, film making, Pokemon, Zelda and fan fiction.

Contact Evie at evie@opendoors.net.au

Sharmaine Rastall

Alcohol & Other Drug Support Worker

Sharmaine (she/her) is a proud Aboriginal woman from Yorta Yorta Country and is one of the AOD support workers at Open Doors.

Sharmaine has spent most of her adult life either volunteering or working in youth focused spaces and has a background in rehabilitation, in both alcohol and other drugs and corrections. She has also had the privilege to work in remote communities in far north Queensland supporting Sistergirl and Brotherboy young people with health and wellbeing.

Sharmaine would describe herself as a bit of a nerd, in her spare time she enjoys watching Star Was with her cat, Odin.

Contact Sharmaine at sharmaine.rastall@opendoors.net.au 

Kate Green

Youth & Family Support Worker – Reconnect Program

Kate (she/her) is a cisgender queer/bisexual femme who believes deeply in the importance of fostering community and connection. She is constantly impressed by the resilience of young people; she knows that young people are the experts on their own lives and feels honoured to work alongside them.

A career highlight for Kate has been supporting young people experiencing homelessness and navigating systems, in particular the (in)justice and legal systems. Her education background is in community development, gender, social policy, and business.

In her spare time she loves hiking, being in nature, cooking, sequins, spending time with her cats, op shopping, and savouring good food in good company.

Contact Kate at kate.green@opendoors.net.au

Hemal Senarath Rathnayake

Youth & Family Support Worker – Jellybeans Program

Hemal (he/him) is a Social Worker by education and is one of the Youth and Family Support Workers and Facilitators for the JellyBeans program at Open Doors Youth Service. He is originally from Sri Lanka and has been enjoying his stay in sunny Brisbane. His gender identity is male with a transgender experience and Hemal uses the pronouns he/him/his. Open Doors was one of the first organisations Hemal reached out to as a young person when he first arrived in Australia and was a peer mentor a few years after that. He feels very happy to be part of the Open Doors team and to be working with LGBTIQAP+ Sistergirl and Brotherboy young people to bring positive outcomes to their lives. Hemal brings knowledge of lived experience and working in the community, both paid and in a volunteer capacity, to provide peer counselling, case work/management and support work. Hemal has a passion for social justice and critical social work practice.  In his spare time, he enjoys the outdoors and connecting with nature, playing sports and loves the company of friends and family.

Contact Hemal at: hemal@opendoors.net.au

Sneha Narayan

Intake Officer

Sneha (she/her) is a cis queer woman from Chennai, India and has a Master of Counselling degree from the University of Queensland. She enjoys working with children/young people and recognises the importance of community, particularly for LGBTIQ+ people.

She enjoys hip hop/rap music, watching basketball (particularly Miami Heat), true crime podcasts and is currently learning to skateboard in her spare time.

Contact Sneha at sneha.narayan@opendoors.net.au

Paula Nixon

Finance Officer

Paula (she/her) has worked for several years as the finance/admin officer for Open Doors and being a part of the team that has brought about amazing change within the organisation over the past couple of years has found the role to be both stimulating and challenging.

She has worked in the not for profit sector, in such areas as sexual assault, homelessness, domestic violence, disability and currently with the LGBTIQ community. Paula has served on several boards, she was the President of Sunshine Welfare and Remedial Association for two years, was Treasurer on the board for Queensland Youth Housing Coalition and is currently the Treasurer for Children by Choice. Originally from the UK, she has lived and worked in several other countries and has been involved in various community groups: Malaysia, Middle East, and Europe.

She is a passionate advocate for women’s rights, especially for older women who are often marginalised through gender, age or race. Paula holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Diploma in Accounting and a Diploma in TESOL.

Isabella Windt

Admin & Finance Support Officer

Bella (she/her) is a an experienced admin assistant who enjoys working behind-the-scenes at Open Doors. She also holds a Bachelor of Psychology and is currently studying towards becoming a Clinical Psychologist. 

When she’s not working or studying, Bella enjoys spending time with her partner, watching The Office & playing guitar.

bella