MEET THE TEAM
MARISA VAN DER MERWE
Marisa is a Social Entrepreneur and Ashoka Fellow (one of 3000 in 81 countries), and has focussed her efforts on community-work for decades – especially towards the benefit of children. This included organisation and management functions in schools and the SA chess-community at large.
She developed the award-winning “MiniChess”-program for Gr.R-3 learners, acknowledged by Chessa, FIDE, Kasparov Chess Foundation and many NGO’s. MiniChess is her passion – utilising play to harness the most powerful energy in the world – Human talent. It is taught at 250+ Schools in South Africa, to 65 000+ learners over the past 5 years, as well as in various Africa countries and in Central Asia.
Marisa was the Shoprite Checkers Women of the Year 2012 Award-winner (Category: Education). Participated in many international events: Women in the World Summit 2013 in NY, The London Chess & Mathematics Conference (2013, 2014 & 2015) and at WISE (World Innovation Summit on Education) in Qatar as well as The Childhood Education Conference 2014 – Vancouver, Canada and the Visual Literacy conference 2015 in Portugal (included in an e-book by Oxford University) and International ECD-Conference in Bishkek, Central Asia. Guest at the Deutsche Welle Media Forum in Bonn, 2016 and Speaker at EduWeek 2016.
She is married to Willem, and they have 3 grown-up children & one cute little grandson.
Liezl Thom is a qualified Life Coach, Transformation Coach, Neurolinguistic Programming Practitioner and Inner Conflict Therapy Practitioner. Over the past decade, she has been guiding her clients on their journeys to self-discovery and awakening. Liezl helps people change the stories they tell themselves about themselves, which liberates them from their fears and limiting beliefs and helps them harness the power of change.
Liezl was trained as a Life Coach by internationally acclaimed coach and author Martha Beck. She also trained as a Master Transformation Coach at The Transformation Coaching Academy, a Law of Attraction and Allowing Your Abundance Coach at the Transformation Academy and successfully completed the advanced online course in the Achology Life Coaching process.
In 2018, CV Magazine voted her as one of their top 50 Life Coaches.
As a child, Liezl drove her parents insane with her constant questioning. To this day, she continues to examine every belief and thought and encourages her clients to question their own beliefs and thoughts. Her burning desire to know why the world works the way it does, lead her to a thriving career in broadcasting journalism, which also paved the way for a best-selling book and her great passion – talk shows.
Her experience as coach and broadcaster gave her the opportunity to co-host “Beyond Ears and Eyes” on Cliff Central, a talk-show covering a wide range of topics that explore alternative lifestyles, beliefs and healing modalities. This continued a passion ignited in the six years she guest-presented the popular show “Believe it or not” on Talk 702 and 567 Cape Talk.
Liezl has presented several webinars and has been invited to participate in an upcoming TEDx event. She’s currently working on, “Sweet Spot Seekers” a new Podcast series she co-hosts about Spirituality and the search for meaning. “Sweet Spot Seekers” will be available on most of the biggest streaming platforms later this year. She also produced her own Podcast series, “The Coaching Corner” as well as 2 web-series, “Unleashing your Inner Superhero” and “Mind Matters” and starred as one of two life coaches on the Afrikaans hit series “Vet Kans”, which was aired on Kyknet towards the end of 2018.
As a journalist Liezl has had international success covering the death of Nelson Mandela as well as the highly covered Oscar Pistorius Murder trial for one of America’s three largest Networks, ABC News. She’s appeared on Good Morning America (the biggest morning show in the USA), World News, Nightline and the magazine show 20/20 as well as BBC Radio, Channel 7 in Australia, several Australian talk radio stations and a number of other radio stations across the globe.
Pinda Sifunda is currently a Senior Manager for Human Capital Development at a research and development organisation.
Her career spans just over 20 years in the innovation domain, having worked initially as a research scientist, then assuming a strategic role in developing innovation systems. Her work now focuses on building capacity in science, engineering and technology.
She is also a partner in a start-up company that seeks to build entrepreneurial capacity for technology based enterprises.
Pinda holds a Master’s Degree in Chemistry from the Rand Afrikaans University (now called UJ) and a Master’s Degree in Business Leadership and Administration from the University of Stellenbosch.
In 1995 Subesh became part of the first group of democratically elected ANC Councillors in the then Pretoria City Council and Greater Pretoria Metropolitan Council (GPMC). Between 1995 and 1999 he served in various capacities in Council, including as a Party Whip, Member of the Executive Committee of the GPMC responsible for Finance and Audit as well as on the Municipal Facilitation Committee (MFC) which prepared for the establishment of City of Tshwane (consisting of 13 previously stand alone municipalities)
During the 2000 Local Government Elections, he was re-elected to City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality and served as the ANC Whip for Finance from 2001 to 2003. In 2003 he was elected Chief Whip of the Majority Party, a position he held until March 2006.
Elected for a third term in 2006, Subesh was appointed by the Executive Mayor to the Mayoral Committee responsible initially for Roads and Stormwater and was subsequently tasked to oversee a Portfolio of Engineering Services and Infrastructure Provisioning units, which included the Water and Sanitation, Transport Development, Energy and Electricity and Roads and Stormwater, Municipal Airport (Wonderboom).
In October 2009, He was moved to the Department of City Planning and Economic Development (a new department which brought together the previous Departments of City Planning, Development and Regional Services as well as Economic Development into a single department)
During the period 2006 – 2010 he served a Member of the Political Committee which oversaw Tshwane’s readiness as a 2010 Soccer World Cup Host City. In this assignment he oversaw the Transportation Planning and Infrastructure stream. Among the projects successful delivered were the upgrades to the Wonderboom Airport, as well as public transport infrastructure to support the park and rides locations.
Following the Local Government elections of 2011, He retained his position as Councillor, and was re-appointed by the Executive Mayor to head the Department of Economic Development and Planning.
In addition, in his capacity as MMC for Economic Development and Planning Subesh has been instrumental in facilitating various multi-million rand private sector developments including;
- Nestle SA’s upgrade (R500m)
- Porsche SA’s Pretoria Dealership (Value unknown)
- BWM SA’s Roslyn Plant upgrade (R6.5 Bn)
- Menlyn Maine Development (R value unknown)
- Mamelodi Mall Development (R1 Bn)
- Amka Products Sunderland Ridge Plant Upgrade (R300m)
In December 2011, Subesh was co-opted to the National Executive Committee of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and appointed to head its national Finance Working Group. In this capacity he has served in the National Budget Forum, Chaired by the Minister of Finance and as such has led SALGA’s inputs into the annual Division of Revenue Bill (National Budget) process since 2012/13.
He has also presented SALGA position papers to various Parliamentary Committees, the National Council of Provinces as well as Commissions. Among the submissions made were comments on amendments to the Equitable Share Formula, the impact of amendments to the Property Rates Act, and the Eskom annual tariff increase submissions to National Electricity Regulatory of SA (NERSA).
During his 20 years’ service in Local Government Subesh has served in various Institutions and Committees including the;
- Council of the University of Pretoria
- 2010 Soccer World Cup Host City Political Committee
- Audit Committee – City of Tshwane
- Loan Restructuring Committee – City of Tshwane
- Board of the Pretoria Academic Hospital (prior to its re-naming)
- Judge Premiers Service Excellence Awards (Gauteng)
He has also developed a strong network across National, Provincial and Local Government as well as in the Private sector, spanning the property development, engineering services, development financing sector, the automotive and informal trading sectors.
As an acknowledged sector specialist in Local Government, Subesh was invited to participate in an International Expert Panel under the auspices of the South African Cities Network to formulate an alternative metropolitan funding models for South African cities. The project resulted in a set of recommendations that will begin to influence the national discourse with respect to the review of the inter-governmental fiscal relations framework and in particular the funding model for Local Government.
Subesh holds NQF 6 qualification in Executive Leadership and Management Development Programme from the University of Pretoria (UP) and has undergone various training programmes.
He currently works as a Senior Researcher and Manager: Research and Legislative Support in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, attached to the Office of the Chief Whip.