Our Team

The ATODA team is passionate about our work and our role in supporting and elevating our sector.

Organisation Chart

Accurate as of May 2024

Anita Mills, CEO

Anita is an experienced leader who has always been passionate about advocating for equity in social, economic and political systems. Her background is in public health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, social policy and government relations and she has worked in government and non-government roles over her career. Her post graduate qualifications are in social sciences and international relations. Anita joined ATODA as CEO in August 2023 and is excited to lead the organisation on its next phase of strategic evolution. Outside of work you can find her walking the dog, thrifting, pottering in the community garden and on the sidelines of Saturday soccer.

Anke van der Sterren, Deputy CEO

Anke is a medical anthropologist and public health researcher with over 25 years’ experience in mixed methods research and evaluation in the areas of alcohol and other drugs, tobacco, blood borne viruses and workforce development. Prior to coming to ATODA, Anke worked for more than 15 years in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community sector. Since coming to ATODA in 2014, Anke’s focus has been on building ATODA’s research and evaluation capability, and on using the evidence base to inform capacity-building, policy and advocacy within the sector. Anke is currently being supported by ATODA to undertake a Professional Doctorate in Applied Public Health at UNSW. In her spare time, Anke enjoys reading, crafting and bushwalking.

Tess Rogel, Business Manager

Tess is currently the Business Manager of ATODA and has been with the organisation since October 2022. Her great passion is to work in non-profit organisations that support marginalised and vulnerable members of society. Tess is a qualified and accomplished Chartered Accountant. She has extensive experience in all aspects of finance, accounting, HR, and administration for various companies across a range of sectors. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Commerce (Accounting), Chartered Accountant Diploma, Graduate Certificate in Commerce, Computer Programming Certificate, and Service Coordination Diploma. Tess is a nature lover and enjoys walking and travelling in different places with beautiful scenery. She loves watching movies, listening to Christian music, and inspiring messages.

Elisabeth Yarbakhsh, Workforce Development and Research Officer

Dr Elisabeth Yarbakhsh (she/her) provides research expertise to the ATODA team and supports the development and maintenance of a highly skilled workforce in the ACT ATOD sector, through her activities as the Research and Workforce Development Officer at ATODA. Elisabeth has a PhD in anthropology from the Australian National University and has a longstanding interest in policy-relevant research that benefits the community. She has been the recipient of academic prizes, has published widely in journals, has presented at national and international conferences and is the author of a number of books. Elisabeth has a keen interest in ensuring that her own research underpins improved equity, access, participation, health, justice and social outcomes for people who use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and their friends and families, as well as improved workforce outcomes for the sector.

Annie Bleeker, Senior Training Specialist

Annie joined the ATODA Team in 2019 as a Senior Training Specialist in alcohol and other drugs. She has been in the AOD sector since 1992 working in community education, research and workforce development training. Annie is passionate about harm reduction and social equity and has worked in the government and non-government sector. She is an avid traveller and lived in the Netherlands for five years and has led international training programs in Indonesia, Thailand, Istanbul and Uzbekistan.

Brigit Perry, Operations and Membership Support Officer

Brigit is the Operations and Membership Support Officer at ATODA. She started at ATODA in 2021 and was instrumental in ATODA’s becoming an accredited organisation. She is the secretariat of the ATOD and Mental Health Alliance, which completes its pilot year in June 2024. Brigit has a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and has always been interested in the news. This is now part of her role, as she combs the internet for ATOD news each morning for a media roundup for ATODA staff. Brigit has spent most of her professional years in non-profit sectors. She volunteers with Orange Sky Laundry, which is her favourite organisation (outside of ATODA).

Leanne Bourke, Policy and Communications Officer

Leanne is the Policy and Communications Officer at ATODA and has been with the organisation since October 2021. She is currently completing an Honours program in Psychology with the University of Adelaide, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of Canberra. She has a passion for ATOD policy and its interaction with the justice system, and advocating for improved treatment and rehabilitation outcomes. She is also passionate about co-occurring ATOD and mental health, and is looking to focus her Honours research project around this topic. Outside of work, Leanne enjoys crocheting and being outdoors.

Ava Gajadtsy, Policy Officer

Ava joined ATODA in January 2024 as a Policy officer and enjoys engaging with the advocacy and policy matters in the ATOD sector. She joins ATODA having moved to Canberra in July 2023 for her Masters of Culture, Health and Medicine at ANU. Ava has an interest in policy that addresses health inequities and considers the social and cultural determinants of health, which developed throughout a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. She believes future ATOD policy should be developed with the consideration of and alongside the communities they will affect.