our people

The Board of Directors

The 2022-2023 Board of Directors have expertise and experience within project management, law, medicine, social work, obstetric sonography, mental health, qualitative and quantitative research, nursing, teriarty education and learning design, governance, strategy, policy development and advocacy.

In line with our values to prioritise lived experience, 44% of our Board of Directors has lived experience of receiving a prenatal diagnosis of a fetal anomaly.

Chairperson: Margaret Shield
Deputy Chairperson: Eleanore Fritze
Treasurer: Tracey Holmes
Executive Director & Secretary: Pieta Shakes

Director: Alison Deslandes
Director: A/Prof Chris Maylea
Director: Dr Imogen Thomson
Director: Zena Mason
Director: Andrea Dickson

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Chairperson: Margaret Shield

Margaret Shield (they/them) is a queer, neurodivergent, single parent to two young children. Margaret enjoyed a burgeoning academic career before having children. Margaret’s academic career was heavily focused on health research methods, with extensive teaching and research experience in both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Margaret’s research work investigated a range of topics, including but not limited to: birth rates across Australia, teenage pregnancies/births, associations between childlessness and wellbeing, mental illness stigma and discrimination, and socioeconomic disadvantage and health.

Margaret has an unwavering passion for social justice, a strong commitment to intersectionality, and a keen understanding of the social model of health and disability.

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Deputy Chairperson: Eleanore Fritze

Eleanore is an experienced lawyer and Churchill Fellow whose career has focussed on empowering, supporting and protecting the rights of people with cognitive and psychosocial disability. She worked at Victoria Legal Aid for 15 years, predominantly in the Mental Health & Disability Law team, and is currently the principal solicitor at the Office of the Public Advocate. She regularly engages in innovative, rights-based strategic advocacy, law reform and education projects, presents at local and international conferences and has also published some work. Eleanore values lived experience and enjoys working alongside self-advocates.

Eleanore loves playing and singing with her delightful toddler and is looking forward to introducing her to camping.

Eleanore has lived experience of receiving news of a congenital anomaly during pregnancy, which has motivated her enthusiasm for Through the Unexpected’s mission.

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Treasurer: Tracey Holmes

Tracey Holmes is a qualified accountant with a Masters of Commerce from University of New England. She is a full member of the Institute of Professional Accountants, specialising in business strategy and project feasibility. Tracey works for the Port of Townsville leading the strategic planning and sustainability of the organisation.

Tracey brings over 20 years of finance experience across several industries, with recent experience in business case development, project feasibility and Port development and strategic planning.

She is passionate about helping charities and not for profits realise their goals and currently serves on the Council of the Good Shepherd Homes to provide financial and strategic direction as well as technology experience. Tracey is a committed volunteer providing fundraising, events organisation and promotion services to raise awareness for Ovarian Cancer.

She is also a mad keen fisher, currently treasurer of her local community fishing group and loves promoting responsible recreational fishing in her area.

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Executive Director & Secretary: Pieta Shakes

Pieta (she/her) is a Lecturer with James Cook University, in the Postgraduate Nursing Online team and is a Credentialed Mental Health Nurse. Overly enthusiastic about patient experience and person-centred care within our fast-paced systems and society, Pieta has a particular research interest in the psychosocial aspects of prenatal diagnosis. She has postgraduate qualifications in mental health nursing, diagnostic genomics and higher education innovative teaching and learning.

Currently undertaking PhD research into the maternal lived experience of receiving a prenatal diagnosis of agenesis of the corpus callosum, Pieta’s topic was inspired by her own lived experience. After a decade of clinical mental health nursing positions, she transitioned into academia with the hope to make a difference through education, advocacy and research.

Pieta has been involved in the start-up of a national grassroots charity and held various positions within committees and not for profit organisations, including a current position within the Perinatal Society of Australian and New Zealand Perinatal Ethics SIG. You can read about her lived experience of receiving a prenatal diagnosis and her drive for TTU here.

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Director: Dr Imogen Thomson

Dr Imogen Thomson is a medical doctor with a clinical interest in women’s health, as well as public health and health policy alongside medicine. Her training has taken her across regional NSW, to Orange, Dubbo, and Newcastle, but she is currently based in Sydney. Imogen previously completed a term in Obstetrics & Gynaecology at Oxford University Medical School.

Alongside her clinical training, Imogen has been heavily involved in health systems work through undertaking research in public health, working at the World Health Organization’s Department of Health Systems and Innovation, and working as a Business Analyst in McKinsey & Company’s health and public sector practices.

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Director: Dr Chris Maylea

Dr Chris Maylea is a mental health social worker, lawyer and Associate Professor of Law at La Trobe University. He is also Deputy Chair of the Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council and has served on a variety of boards and committees. His research focuses on the intersection of health, welfare and law and he is the author of over 50 peer-reviewed articles and commissioned reports. Dr Maylea is the author of Social Work and the Law, published in 2020. His doctoral thesis was entitled “Exploring Service Delivery to New and Expectant Fathers by Health and Welfare Professionals”.

Chris’s family includes three happy children, two very good dogs, two Guinea pigs and a turtle.

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Director: Alison Deslandes

Alison is a specialist obstetric sonographer, researcher and board director from Adelaide. She has vast clinical ultrasound experience that covers public hospitals, private hospitals, private radiology practice and specialist suites in both metropolitan and regional centers. Through her professional expertise, Alison has seen first hand how unexpected findings during routine antenatal visits can turn a families world upside down in a second and just how vital good support is through this journey. Alison is passionate about excellence in obstetric ultrasound and promotes this through a strong commitment to sonographer education and professional development.

Since 2018, Alison has been on the board of the Australasian Society of Ultrasound in Medicine and is the current Treasurer. This role has given her a breadth of experience in strategic planning, risk management, financial reporting and management and corporate governance.

When Alison is not performing ultrasounds she enjoys reading novels, camping and playing with her two young children.

Director: Zena Mason

Zena is a Mum to two children on earth and two babies who didn’t make it earthside (22 week TFMR and a 11 week miscarriage) as well as working in an administration job. In December 2015 she and her husband were faced with a poor prenatal diagnosis at 22 weeks gestation where they were told their daughter was incompatible with life, three cards were held up and she chose to have a termination for medical reasons (TFMR).

Zena felt rushed alone and vulnerable, there wasn’t enough information or help. It was because of those feelings that in 2016 she wanted to start advocating for families who were faced with TFMRs by sharing her own story and experiences openly and honestly. She has provided support in groups online, shared countless stories across different platforms, provided feedback to hospitals and also has been a part of the Queensland Law abortion reform sharing her story and corresponding with MP offices to advocate for change.

In Zena’s spare time she likes weight training, photography, painting, craft and spending time with family and friends.

Director: Andrea Dickson

Andrea Dickson is the owner of Matrescence Australia, a Full Spectrum Doula and Placenta Encapsulation Service, providing emotional, physical and practical support to women and birthing people no matter the outcome of their pregnancy.

Andrea trained with the Australian Doula College (ADC) and has slowly been adding additional qualifications along the way in Breastfeeding Education, Placenta Encapsulation, stillbirth and infant loss support and was a part of an Australian first, joint pilot program between the ADC and Child by Choice, also holding a qualification as a certified Abortion Doula. In addition, Andrea also works for Red Nose Australia in their Hospital to Home Program part-time as Bereavement Support Worker, assisting families who have experienced pregnancy or infant loss (stillbirth, termination for medical reasons, sudden infant death syndrome & sudden and unexpected death of an infant) from 20 weeks gestation up to 12 months of age.

In 2019, along side another bereaved mother, Andrea founded a peer to peer support group for parents who have experienced termination for medical reasons. One of the first of its kind in Australia, the peer to peer group has now provided support, comfort and a safe space to over 130 Australian families. Andrea is passionate about the informed decision making process, ensuring families have all the tools, support resources and information they require to make educated decisions and advocate for themselves and their baby’s in a complex medical maternity system.

Andrea has one living daughter and uses her advocacy and support work as a way of ‘mothering’ her three other children lost to early pregnancy loss and termination for medical reasons. Her own struggles with infertility, pregnancy loss and the inspiring families she works with on a daily basis are her greatest source of motivation.