Who we are
What we do
Our vision and values
- inclusion and diversity
- working together, in a collegial environment, based on integrity, respect and trust
- ongoing learning and the shared knowledge and wisdom of our community
- pro-active service delivery based on finding the best option for individuals
- we value and encourage innovation
- we value and recognise the autonomy/self-determination of individuals and member organisations
Registrations NOW OPEN!
Our Board and Staff
Karen Covell is Chief Executive of Progress to Health which is based in Hamilton. Progress to Health is a community based organisation providing mental health and disability support services throughout the Waikato, Taranaki and Taupo. Progress to Health’s vision is that all people with mental health and associated disabilities are supported holistically to maximise their potential. Karen has worked in the health sector for the majority of her career and has been at Progress to Health since 2004. Prior to which she was the CE at Epilepsy New Zealand. She has been in a member of the Inclusive NZ Board for three years, of which she has been Vice-President for the past two. She is also Chair of the Waikato District Health Board mental health local advisory group, a member of the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand, an associate member of the New Zealand Institute of Management, and the Not-for-Profit Network. Outside of work, Karen is a gym instructor at her local gym in Cambridge, and enjoys spending time with her greyhound, Fox, and her partner Ian.
Michelle SharpVice President
Michelle Sharp is the Chief Executive Officer of Kilmarnock Enterprises which is based in Christchurch. Kilmarnock was established more than 55 years ago and now employs more than 80 staff, with its core purpose being to employ and support individuals with intellectual disabilities, so they can realise their full potential within the communities they live in. Michelle has been with Kilmarnock for the past four years where she originally started out as the business development manager. She has now been CEO for the past 18 months where she has been able to put her background in business and the telecommunications sector to good use. Away from work Michelle likes to spend time outdoors with her family and is a keen runner.
John GrantBoard Member
John Grant is General Manager of SkillWise which is based in Christchurch. SkillWise provides community participation support which includes training, education, leisure and recreation opportunities and links to voluntary work and employment opportunities, for adults who have mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. As well as his role as GM of SkillWise John holds a part-time lecturing position, at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, on the Bachelor of Applied Science course (disability specialisation). John has worked at Skillwise since 2005, and began lecturing in 2008.
Glenn MurtaghBoard Member
Glenn Murtagh is Service Development Manager for Pact which is based in Dunedin. Pact is a support organisation for people, with a wide range of services including Day programmes, vocational services and community participation to supported accommodation services for both the intellectually disabled and for people with mental illness. PACT operates in Otago, Southland, the West Coast and have a small presence in Christchurch. Glenn began work at PACT five years ago, and his responsiblities include managing client programmes in Otago and developing services. Previously he worked for Housing New Zealand, prior to which he spent a considerable number of years in the New Zealand Army. He has been a Inclusive NZ Board member for three years. As a father-of-five he is also on his local high school Board and has been managing Otago rugby teams for the past seven years.
Claire PyeBoard Member
Claire Pye is the General Manager of Pou Whakaaro which is based in Whakatane. Pou Whakaaro offers a range of free courses and activities to people living with a disability and/or mental illness in Whakatane and Kawerau. Courses include community led education, a peer support service for people who experience mental illness and/or addiction and micro business support. It also offers support, advocacy and information to families of people who have someone with an experience of mental illness. Claire has been General Manager at Pou Whakaaro since 2008 and came on board following a stint at Whakatohea Iwi School and Health Services in Opotiki as Mental Health Team Leader. In her spare time Claire enjoys spending time with her whanau, gardening and taking in the great outdoors.
Mike NoonanBoard Member
Mike Noonan is Executive Trustee of Coromandel Independent Living Trust and Chairperson of the Supported Life Style Hauraki Trust. Both organisations, based in Coromandel town and Thames respectively, aim to provide support and education for people with varied abilities, disabilities and disadvantages. CILT’s mission is to enhance the well-being of all people in the local Coromandel community with initiatives for young and old including the provision of affordable social housing for those on low incomes and the elderly. SLHT aims to remove barriers to independence by providing a community integrated service for those with mixed abilities, through the maintenance of flexibility and versatility in service provision. Outside of work Mike and his wife Alison Carter maintain their block of native bush, whilst nurturing their olive grove which annually provides them with sufficient oil for the needs of their kitchen and also for local sale. Originally from Sydney, Mike has a background in advertising and the media.
Lynda MillingtonBoard Member
Lynda Millington is Chief Executive of Interactionz which is based in Hamilton. Interactionz is committed to assisting people with disabilities, with support from their families/whanau and communities, to lead lives that have meaning to them. Interactionz work is about interacting with people and communities, and to enable this the Trust has developed a way of working called Person Driven Practice. Alongside the services Interactionz provide to enact this practice is a transformational framework that is used by Interctionz to change the thinking and behaviour of staff. Lynda has been involved with Interactionz since 1999 when she was appointed CE, and she has been an Inclusive NZ Board member since 2000, having held both the Vice-President and Treasurer role in that time. When not working her passion is travelling, with a major overseas trip on the cards every two years. She also enjoys tramping, social cycling, reading and cooking.
Tania WilsonBoard Member
Tania Wilson is our newest board member and is the Chief Executive of Avalon BOP (Inc). Avalon BOP (Inc) is a long-standing disability provider operating out of Tauranga which is focused on providing activities that foster social inclusion, community participation and employment opportunities for disabled people. Tania started out as the Commercial Manager at Avalon before stepping into the role of Chief Executive in June 2016. Prior to this, she worked in commercial positions, which offered her the chance to strengthen her abilities in strategic planning and business acumen. These specific skills are what she hopes to bring to her role as an Inclusive NZ Board Member, as well as her keen sense to think outside the box. With her busy schedule Tania admittedly has little downtime, however when she does, likes to engage in actively relaxing activities that help give her life balance. These include reading, yoga and walking. Spending time with her family is also very important to her.
Fern RyanBoard Member
Fern Ryan is the Chief Executive of ConneXu in Te Awamutu and was co-opted onto the Inclusive NZ Board in November 2016. Fern has been with ConneXu since 2012, but prior to that spent more than 20 years working in mostly leadership roles in the community and disability support sector. Throughout her time working in these two sectors, Fern has always been committed to community development practices that foster self-determination. Due to this, the Inclusive NZ Board are especially looking forward to her sharing her skills and knowledge in these areas. Away from work, Fern enjoys spending time in the beautiful Te Awamutu with her family, her dog, three cats and a couple of cows. Reading, walking and traveling are other pastimes she likes to engage in during her downtime.
Michael WhiteChief Executive Officer
Michael White is the Chief Executive Officer of Inclusive NZ and is based in our Wellington office. Michael came on board in November 2017 and has been working hard to transform the organisation’s strategic goals into reality. Michael’s background is in law and throughout his career has worked in private practice, for the New Zealand Government, as well as international organisations. His most recent position was working as a Senior Legal Adviser at The New Zealand Human Rights Commission.
Holly RauschProgramme Manager
Holly Rausch joined Inclusive NZ as the Office Manager in our Wellington office. Holly has over 7 years of customer service experience in a large variety of industries including Hospitality, Event Management, Recruitment and Care-giving. She is also looking forward to interacting with our members, Organizing future events for new and existing members and learning more about the Disability Sector. Outside of work, Holly enjoys a variety of sport including Football and Netball, as well as hunting, walking the dogs and catching up with friends.
Leanne O’ConnellFinance Administrator
Leanne O’Connell originally came on board as Inclusive NZ’s Office Administrator back in 2011, but now works remotely from Rotorua as our Finance Administrator. She comes from a financial background and prior to working with us, worked in the tourism industry for ten years. Leanne enjoys working at Inclusive NZ and is learning lots about the disability sector, as well as meeting some wonderful people. Away from work Leanne enjoys spending time with her friends and family – especially her granddaughter and grandson.
Amanuel BerhanePolicy and Projects Advisor
Amanuel Berhane joined Inclusive NZ as a policy and projects advisor in March 2018. Prior to joining us Amanuel worked in the Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare, Eritrea as a project researcher/evaluator. Amanuel is looking forward to learning about the disability sector. He is particularly interested in policy involving disability issues, such as employment, education, health etc. When away from work Amanuel enjoys spending time with friends, playing football and watching soccer.
Dr. James Gomez is Chair, Board of Directors, Asia Centre, a not-for-profit enterprise that seeks to make social impact across the region. Dr. Gomez currently oversees its operations in both Thailand and Malaysia and is leading the partnerships for the Centre’s many activities in other parts of the region. He represents the Centre in media and public speaking engagements and […]
Registrations are NOW OPEN for Inclusive NZ 2018 Conference. When: Tuesday 30th October – Wednesday 31st October 2018 Where: Mac’s Function Centre, Wellington Waterfront, Te Aro Room Registration Registrations are now open for our annual conference – Our Space, creating and enhancing inclusive communities together – To register for the Conference please CLICK HERE! We particularly encourage disabled people, Maori, […]
Thanks to the team at Interationz, we have this beautiful timeline of our Forum held last month. The timeline is a great visual guide outlining the ‘hot points’ throughout the day and is sketched right in front of you! With guest speakers from Autism NZ, Ministry of Health, Interactionz, Metlink and Inclusive NZ, the day was filled with many questions, […]
The Inclusive NZ Community
Riding along on a bike, with the wind in your hair, has got to be one of the most freeing sensations that we can experience. It seems to engender that feeling of not having a care in the world, perhaps it’s because it gives you a different perspective on it, as it whips past you in a blur; cold air […]
Joel has been on a remarkable journey of self-discovery since he undertook a PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope) with ConneXu last year. Being non-verbal, severely autistic, deaf and with limited communication, life for Joel and his supportive family hasn’t always been easy. In fact, managing the dynamic of Joel reacting physically to situations he was not comfortable with, meant […]
Getting back to basics is the main philosophy behind an innovative sports programme aimed at young people with disabilities in the Waikato. That is because the programme’s premise is based on the Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) approach where instead of teaching a specific sport, participants are taught basic sport skills such as target, net/wall, striking and territory skills that […]