Our Team

Sonja Despotov - Service Manager

Sonja Despotov

Service Manager

Sonja oversees all of our services. She has worked in the disability sector for over 15 years and holds a Bachelor of Education in Habilitation from Australian Catholic University. Read more

It’s hard doing everything on your own. That said, when you do need help, it has to be the right kind of help – help from people who really care about what you want, what you have to say, and how you want your life to be. We know this because we’ve been assisting people who are ageing, people with disabilities, and their carers for more than four decades. Along the way, we’ve listened closely and we’ve learnt a lot.

Staff Members

When you engage with our team, you’ll be greeted with big smiles, warm hearts, years of experience and on-the-ground understanding. Our team works hard for you and the people you love, and we back up our good intentions with solid knowledge and transparent processes. Our priority is, was – and will always be – you. The result is fantastic outcomes that genuinely improve lives.

The Ella Centre employs people who are passionate about supporting the Ella Centre’s work in creating an inclusive community for all. We employ staff with the skills and knowledge to support the individual needs of our service users and the development of person centred plans.

Employment Process

We employ skilled staff across disability, aged care, administration and business management.

All staff undergo an extensive screening process prior to appointment. Successful applicants must comply with The Ella Centre ethics and values, code of conduct and safe environment work practices.

Our screening process includes.

* NDIS Worker Screening Checks

* Reference checks.

When new employees arrive at The Ella Centre, they also complete an Induction and training program and receive ongoing training to ensure their skills remain current and up to date with relevant practices.

Board Members

Geoff Kerry (Chair): Geoff joined the Board of Ella in 1988 and was Treasurer from 1988 to 1994 and again since 2019. He was nominated to the Chair position in October 2020. He retired from the Commonwealth Bank in 2019 after serving in various senior executive roles. Geoff holds a BComm/LLB; MBA and is a CPA. He is also on the Boards of KOPWA Nursing Home in Roseville and the Uniting Church National Assembly's Audit Finance and Risk Committee.

Vanouhi Nazarian (Treasurer): Vanouhi is a Chartered Accountant who joined the Board in April 2020 and was nominated to the Treasurer position in October 2020. She is the Founder of Kindershare and is a tutor at UTS Business School. She has previously worked as a commercial manager at Mission Australia and in Corporate Restructuring at PwC. She holds a Masters of Accounting and a Post Graduate Diploma in NFP Management.

Marian Grills (Secretary): Marian holds a senior leadership role in Aged Care. She has more than 30 years experience in the health sector, in acute and Residential Aged Care. Marian is also a member of the St David's Haberfield congregation.

Dr Philip McCrea: Phil has more than 40 years’ experience in the Australian IT industry, spanning academia, business and Government. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of NSW (1975) and is currently an IT consultant.

John Read: John is a retired engineer and a member of the St David’s Uniting Church Haberfield congregation.

Prue Gregory: Prue is a lawyer of more than 40 years experience who has spent the last 25 years working in the community sector. This work has involved setting up a legal clinic for people experiencing homelessness in Kings Cross to working as the principal lawyer in the community legal sector. She is presently involved in working with survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. In 2017 she was awarded the NSW Law and Justice Foundation medal and in 2020 was awarded an Order of Australia for services to law and the community. Prue was appointed by the Commonwealth Government in 2016 to the advisory board to establish the design and implementation of the National Redress Scheme.

Tim Robinson: Skilled banking leader with significant experience across banks, brokers and corporates. Adept at building and running multiple market leading teams who deliver best in class results whilst maintaining the highest ethical standards. Operates well in a highly competitive environment in which people, process and performance create a culture that delivers success. Non Executive Director specialising in financial services and NFP disability services

Gail Westacott: Gail Westacott has an extensive career in key executive management roles, including over 15 years as a CEO. Gail is a skilled organisational development professional with extensive business acumen which uniquely positions her to maximise value to organisations. As an accomplished CEO, chairperson and director Gail demonstrates flexible leadership capabilities to adapt to changing business needs. Recognised as a strategic leader, strong collaborator and problem solver Gail delivers on successful outcomes. She has the ability to understand and implement efficiencies to restructure and improve business performance.

Samantha Daly - Samantha is an experienced legal practitioner with 20 years experience working in the area of environment and planning, as well as supporting disadvantaged communities and minority persons and groups through pro bono and community legal work. She is known for her ability to work with a broad range of stakeholders to solve complex problems. Samantha leads with empathy and compassion and is known for her ability to connect with stakeholders and maintain and foster long-term relationships. Samantha was included in Australasian Lawyer’s Elite Women 2021 list – being only one of 50 women nationally to achieve such a listing.

Rev Joy Steele-Perkins: Rev Joy Steele-Perkins is the minister at St David’s Uniting Church. She joined the board when she joined the church in August 2019. Her previous work experience was with not for profit organisations, working with people with disabilities and their families, on various programs in local Neighbourhood Centres, and more recently as a Case Worker on the Boarding House Outreach Service with Newtown Neighbourhood Centre.