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Karla is a registered nurse and has a postgraduate Diploma in Health Management. She has held clinical positions in a variety of mental health settings prior to assuming management roles.
Karla was manager of the Regional Eating Disorders Service and Specialist Services before she became manager of the Acute Mental Health Services for the Auckland District Health Board, a position she held for eight years. For three years Karla took on the mental health and addictions workforce development coordinator position at the NDSA (now NRA) for the four Northern Region District Health Boards. Following this she moved to Waitemata DHB as service manager for District Mental Health Services for four years. Prior to returning to New Zealand in 2014, Karla was the executive director of the Mental Health Directorate in the Central Adelaide Local Health Network (DHB equivalent) in South Australia.
Karla is now the Group Director of Services for Emerge Aotearoa – a role she has held for four years. Emerge Aotearoa is a large not for profit social services provider, delivering a range of services nationally in the specialties of mental health, addictions, disability, housing, corrections and peer.
Karla has many interests and achievements within mental health including the reduction of restrictive practices and the use of data to inform practice and service improvement. She is a strong supporter of peer-led services and the development of the lived experience workforce. She sits on numerous national and regional leadership groups in the mental health and addiction sector.