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Management Team

Julie Cheetham - Managing Director
Julie Cheetham joined the Grootbos Foundation in 2014 after more than 15 years in the corporate world. She holds a B.Com in Economics from Port Elizabeth University (NMMU), and a Six Sigma Black Belt. She has worked across financial services, consulting and manufacturing sectors, with companies such as Standard Bank, Distell, and National Australia Bank. Julie has developed key expertise in strategic business development and programme leadership. Her passion for community development and empowerment of women led her to initiate the award-winning NAB corporate finance community programme in 2009. She recently returned home to South Africa where she joined the Grootbos Foundation team and is able to spend more time with her two sons.

Lily Upton - Project Manager

Lily Upton joined the Foundation team in 2010 and has worked on numerous projects within the Foundation.  She studied Landscape Technology and Environmental Management with the Cape University of Technology. Lily grew up in the Overberg and is passionate about the fynbos and the people of the area. She is currently the project manager of the Masakhane Community Farm, TMF Small Grants Programme and the Dibanisa and Food for Sport environmental education projects.  




Ruth Crichton - Ruth has a Masters degree in International Trade Relations from the University of Stellenbosch. Her passion has always been books and she ultimately pursued this in having an independent bookshop and then spending time in the publishing world. She joined the Grootbos Foundation over two years ago and champions marketing and communications of both the Foundation, PR for the lodge and has developed a botanically inspired jewellery range aimed at skills development of single mothers in the community.


Simone Davel - Project Manager

Simone has a passion for people. She joined the Foundation Team in July 2014 with prior conservation studies and experience in management within the City of Cape Town Biodiversity Management Department and at an environmental consulting company. Educating and helping others has always been high on her list of career goals and as a Project Manager at the Grootbos Foundation she has been able to teach over 2500 learners annually. Currently Simone co-ordinates and facilitates the Siyakhula Careers, Employability and Enterprise Development Programmes, Manages the Intern and Volunteer Programme and assists with Operations Management of the Foundation.  Simone’s other interests include dancing, arts and crafts, cycling, walking and most of all spending time with her family.



Lindsay Hanekom
 - Project Manager

After graduating from The Swiss Hotel Management School in Switzerland with Honours degree in International Hotel Management, Lindsay returned to Africa where her heart lies! Finding her way living in deep rural areas of South Africa, Botswana and Namibia with her husband managing various establishments, a passion arose for making a difference in people’s lives. For the past 10 years, Lindsay has been actively involved in social development from building early childhood development centres in areas that had none, to setting up award winning permaculture food gardens, and passionately creating awareness on social and environmental issues. Lindsay wears many hats as Operations Manager for the Grootbos Foundation and she loves the diversity Grootbos Foundation has to offer.


Johan Strydom -  Green Futures Organic Farm Manager
After growing up in Cape Town and serving in the military, Johan studied at Cape Technikon, where he earned his diploma in Horticulture in 1990. He then worked for various nurseries and landscaping companies around Cape Town before moving to Gansbaai. Johan joined Grootbos in 2004 and was put in charge of setting up nurseries for the Foundation’s Green Futures programme. He then managed the Overberg Fynbos and Tree nursery for Sean Privett, and in 2009 joined the Siyakhula ‘Growing the Future’ agriculture programme. In his current position as Farm Manager for the Grootbos Foundation’s Siyakhula organic farm, Johan is responsible for supplying Grootbos kitchens with freshly grown organic vegetables, herbs, eggs and honey. He also ensures that the programme’s initiatives are profitable for the Foundation. Johan loves what he does and feels very lucky to do for his job what other people do as a hobby.

Zokhanyo Bikani - Community Farm Training Facilitator & Supervisor

Zokhanyo originally came from the Eastern Cape and passed matric in 2009 and has completed a certificate in Higher Adult Education.  Zokhanyo joined the ‘Growing the Future’ project as an agriculture student in 2011 and spent a year learning about organic vegetables, beekeeping, cultivating herbs, life skills, computer skills, and making compost. In 2012, she was promoted to be a student mentor for new students and taught them everything she had learned. Zokhanyo now facilitates urban agriculture lessons for the Masakhane Community Farm and is the site supervisor.   Grootbos is very special to her because it provides her financial security and money for school, and constantly feeds her with new information, skills and experience.


Pontscho Chiloane -  Community Farm Farm Manager

Pontsho grew up in Limpopo and studied Horticulture at the Cape University of Technology, which he completed in 2014.  Pontsho was appointed as Farm Manager for the Masakhane Community Farm and now splits his time between this project and our Growing the Future farm.  Pontsho finds his work at the Foundation very exciting and would like to see the world become more sustainable. He is passionate about sustainable farming and working with Nature, rather than against it. It is Pontsho’s goal to make a difference in the world in which we live to benefit everyone in it.  

Green Futures

Susan Lochner - Head of Green Futures
Born in Namibia and raised in South Africa, Susan has been with the Grootbos Foundation for over 11 years. Touting a long list of educational experience, she earned her Teacher’s Diploma for Junior Primary in 1982, her Nature Conservation Certificate in 2003, a Higher Certificate in Adult Basic Education and Training in 2009, and her FGASA Level-1 Nature Guide certification in 2011. Before becoming the Head of Green Futures at the Grootbos Foundation, a position she has held since May of 2003, Susan was a teacher at the primary schools in Humansdorp and Gansbaai, and worked as a Horse Guide at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve for three years.

Sharlene de Villiers - Nursery & Horticulture Manager
Sharlene de Villiers studied Horticulture at the Cape Town Technicon. She worked for Stodels Nurseries for 7 years and moved to Gansbaai in 2000 with her husband. Sharlene started working for Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in September 2000 as a receptionist, and in 2004 took up the position of Nursery Manager at Green Futures. She teaches the students about plant identification, sowing seeds, caring for seedlings, watering, fertilizers, soil types, pruning, pests and diseases and many more. According to Sharlene, the best part of her job is witnessing the development of her students as they transform from uninformed citizens to skilled professionals. 

Sharlene has a daughter, Marissa, and loves to read, go to the beach and camp in her spare time.

Cilena Danisa - Nursery Supervisor
Nompikiso Celina Danisa grew up in the Eastern Cape where she matriculated. She completed her one-year learnership at the Foundation’s Green Futures Horticulture and Life Skills College. Before Celina came to Green Futures she was working as a sales lady at the spaza shop in the Eastern Cape. Prior to Green Futures, Cilena worked in a spaza shop and as a cleaner in a restaurant. In August 2006 Celina was employed by Green Futures as a nursery assistant and in 2008 she became a nursery supervisor. Her role at the foundation is to manage the nursery, staff and to mentor the students during practicals. Celina feels that the Foundation has provided her with so many invaluable benefits, such as education, job opportunities and especially the chance to travel to England for the Eden Project. Celina likes being independent and going to church. 

Sicelo Fundakubi - Nursery Assistant
Sicelo was born and raised in the Eastern Cape and began working for a cleaning company in Johannesburg. In January of 2007, he moved to the Western Cape and joined the Green Futures programme as student. After graduation he was employed by Green Futures, and today Sicelo is responsible for planting, transplanting and watering various trees and plants. He is very thankful for his job at the Grootbos Foundation because it allows him to provide for his family and is extremely proud of the work that he does here.


Viola Siyotywa - Green Futures Facilitator
Viola was born in the Eastern Cape, where she attended school and matriculated. She came to Gansbaai in search for a job and worked for a Shark Diving company as a waitress, working closely with guests. But Viola has always wanted to further her career and joined Green Futures as a horticulture student. She was a shining example of determination and focus as she continued to study after completing her one year Horticulture training, intent to become a facilitator to help others. In 2012, she earned her Higher Diploma in Adult Basic Education and Training in the University of South Africa. Now Viola works for the Grootbos Foundation as a Life Skills Trainer, a position she has held since 2008. The Foundation is special to Viola because it has given her the skills needs to succeed in the future and has prepared her to face the challenges that she meets. Thanks to Grootbos, “I now know who I am”. She likes sharing ideas, reading and being honest with herself.

Sean Privett – Conservation Director

Sean has a Masters Degree in Botany from the University of Cape Town and an enormous passion for the conservation of the Cape’s unique flora and upliftment of its people. Sean has been involved at Grootbos since 1997 and was instrumental, together with Grootbos owner Michael Lutzeyer, in initiating and developing the non-profit Grootbos Foundation since 2003. Sean assisted in establishing the South African flora display at the Eden Project in Cornwall, U.K., played a pivotal role in establishing the 15 500 hectare Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy and designed the fynbos sustainable harvesting program of the Flower Valley Conservation Trust. Sean’s involvement with the Grootbos Foundation is currently focused on developing our Green Corridor project and mentorship of young conservationists.

Rebecca Dames - Research Botanist and Sustainability Officer 

Growing up on a small farm in George, Rebecca always had a passion for the outdoors and nature. She went on to study Nature Conservation at Nelson Mandela University in George, where her passion for plants bloomed. Since joining the Foundation team in January 2016 as a conservation intern, she is now responsible for various aspects of conservation, botanical research and management within the Foundation, conservancy and Agulhas Biodiversity Corridor. Her role also includes assessing and recording the carbon footprint and sustainability for Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.

Mike Fabricius - Biodiversity Researcher

Mike went to school and university in Grahamstown where he studied a BSc in Zoology and Entomology at Rhodes, and a further BTech in Nature Conservation at Saasveld. Conservation and biodiversity research roles: wildlife monitoring, ecosystem condition assessments, conservation research, liaising with landowners regarding human-wildlife conflict and conservation friendly practice, environmental awareness among the general public, and the establishment of wildlife movement corridors linking protected areas. His passions include bird watching, surfing, playing music, hiking, and nature photography.


Football Foundation

Natasha Bredekamp - Project Manager
Natasha Bredekamp joined the Football Foundation team in June 2012 to coordinate all event programmes and manage organizational aspects of the team. She has a Diploma in Sports Management from the Exercise Teachers and Training Academy (ETA) and was also the national representative of the 2001 Commonwealth Championships for the under 21 Lifesaving Presidents Team. She has a passion for kids and a determination to make a difference towards the communities in which she works in - “if you give a child a chance, the child could make a change.” Natasha has a gorgeous one-year old daughter named Summer! 


Mziyanda Matiwane - Football Coach
As a former youth soccer player from our programme, Mziyanda Matiwane has experienced numerous opportunities for growth through the Foundation. Before joining the Football Foundation as the Soccer Coach, he was able to graduate with an accredited ETA certificate, hold the position as Junior Soccer Coach, and be one of thirty-five students across South Africa selected for the 2013 Laureus Youth Empowerment Programme. Mziyanda hopes to utilize his teachings by continuing to work with children through sport and education and to give back to the community the priceless skills and confidence that the Foundation has provided him. 

Shereen van der Merwe - Hockey Coach
After graduating from the Breaking Barriers training programme, Shereen van der Merwe joined the Football Foundation in 2012 as the Hockey Coach. She has actively contributed new and innovative ways in teaching hockey and attracting more participants towards the sport. Shereen spends her summers as a swimming instructor for young kids as she believes that all children need basic awareness and skills in water safety. 



Corrie Avenant - Athletics Coach
Before joining the Football Foundation in 2012 as the Athletics Coach, Corrie Avenant played for the South African professional rugby team. He has shown exceptional work in motivating and training children through weekly athletics sessions and through various sports programmes such as the “Umntana Phambili ” youth programme. Corrie and his wife were blessed with their first baby in 2014. 



Archie Jakuba - Hermanus Coach

After completing the 11th grade, Archie started working for the Arabella Hotel in Kleinmond as a kitchen cleaner and food preparation assistant. In 2013, he enrolled and participated in the ‘Breaking Barriers’ programme, implemented in partnership with eta college and Active Communities Network, which is a 6-month sports coaching and administration course. Archie then started working as a football coach for the Football Foundation in Hermanus, which is the position he holds today. Originally from Dimbaza in the Eastern Cape, Archie loves working with kids, playing sports, and aspires to travel throughout the world.

Danver August – Coach Danvor has been working at the Football Foundation for the last 3 years. He studied Sports Management at Tygerberg College and in 2009 he assisted in group fitness for the University of Pretoria. In 2011 he began his Sports Coaching and Admin through the Exercise Teachers and Training Academy (ETA). Danvor holds an international level 1 & 2 certificate which he attained through World Rugby. For the past 5 years he has been involved with provincial rugby and at the Foundation he has a group of female Rugby players that he coaches weekly. Danvor shares the same passion as the other coaches mentioned and loves to entertain people as well.