Our people

 

People are the foundation for any good organisation. Our team is a mix of volunteers and paid staff who are:

  • people with ME/CFS who understand the illness firsthand and therefore can represent the needs of sufferers; and

  • healthy people with the right skills, networks and profiles who can ultimately 'get things done'!

 

Read below to learn more about our team

Staff

Janet Mathewson

Supervisor

I bring 18+ years’ experience in the charities sector, both in New Zealand and abroad, most recently as Auckland Manager for Refugee Services Aotearoa (now part of Red Cross). I’m looking forward to being able to put my strengths in networking, community development, collaborative case management and a strength based approach to good use in order to achieve better outcomes for our Members, and others dealing with the challenge of ME/CFS.

 

Having had ME as a student, I understand first hand some of the challenges and frustrations faced by those with ME/CFS. My aim is to continue to listen to our Members, in order to establish the areas of greatest perceived need, and review that on a regular basis in order to keep our services relevant. Given the challenging landscape in the Not-for-Profit sector, I will be looking to grow our services strategically through the use of both staff and volunteers. By drawing on the wealth of experience and knowledge within Auckland’s ME/CFS community, as well as staying up to date with current research, I look forward to being successful in raising awareness amongst Service Providers, streamlining processes around client support access, and ensuring that those with ME/CFS and/or Fibromyalgia always find empathy, resources and support when they contact us.

Meghan Keen,
Dip.Rehab, B.Nurs, NZRN

Community Support Worker

I am excited to work as an ME Auckland Support worker, and hope that my background in the health sector can be useful in my role supporting ME Auckland members. As a Registered Nurse working in Primary Care for the last three years, I have had the privilege of supporting people living with chronic illness to manage their conditions. I have a background in mental health and rehabilitation, and experience in group facilitation through my many past volunteer roles.

 

One of my passions is to see good quality information available to people newly diagnosed, family members and employers, and medical professionals such as GPs and practice nurses.  I look forward to the opportunities ahead to support clients living with ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia to best manage their conditions.

 

I myself have a diagnosis of ME/CFS and fibromyalgia, and this experience has given me insight into the needs that are yet to be met in our ME community, and in the medical profession.

To all our members and their families, as well as the medical professionals accessing our services, please feel free to contact me for information, advocacy, and support – even to be a listening ear on a bad day.

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Natalie Newall
Community Support Worker

I have a Bachelor of Education and Diploma in Primary Teaching (from University of Auckland and Auckland College of Education respectively). I taught at schools across Auckland for several years before taking up a Road Safety Coordinator role at Papakura District Council. It was during this time I was diagnosed with ME/CFS, however this started my career in community development and after having my son I worked in Road Safety injury prevention with Auckland Transport, and then in 2017 I moved on to work as a community and beneficiary advocate with Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) which I held for two and a half years.

I feel this advocacy role, along with my teaching and community development experience, gives me a breadth of experience to bring to ME Auckland as a Support Worker. ME/CFS is a cause close to my heart and being in a position to support others who are affected by this misunderstood illness, means a great deal to me. I have enjoyed my time relieving in this role while Meghan has been on maternity leave and look forward to future opportunities to help, support and provide advocacy to others.

Board

Patrick Hadfield

President

I am financial analyst, working independently for clients across both the public and private sector.

 

I have been actively involved in ME/CFS volunteer work for a number of years including convening a support group for young adults, building the ME Auckland website, fundraising, social media, administration and developing presentations.

 

My goal on the board is to secure funding to support the sustainablity of ME Auckland. I also aim to ensure our communications are professional, and help dispel the undeserved stigma attached to this illness.

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Tracey Turner

Secretary

I am a freelance environmental researcher (science and policy) with a passion for scientific communication and conservation. I have undergraduate degrees in science (geography / marine science) and law; and a Master of Science (first class honours) from the University of Auckland.

In 2013, I was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis after failing to recover from the Epstein-Barr virus (glandular fever). While ME/CFS undoubtedly altered the course of my life, the medical care and support I received meant that I was promptly diagnosed and able to focus on my recovery. I want to ensure that others living with ME/CFS can access the support they require to optimise their health and wellbeing.

I have experience working in the private sector for an environmental consultancy; and as an environmental policy researcher for a small charity. I worked as an administrator at the Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner, and understand the challenges patients and practitioners can face in the provision and receipt of health care in Aotearoa.

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John Loof

Board Member

John Loof has held a number of leadership roles with not-for-profit organisations such as the SPCA, Cancer Society Auckland Northland and Sir Edmund Hillary’s Himalayan Trust. He has a particular interest in community health services and is currently CEO of the Auckland Kidney Society.

 

Some of the most satisfying elements of my career have involved advocating for disease prevention, reduction of inequalities and the expansion of patient services. 

 

I am a former board chair at Western Springs College and I have governance experience with a number of other medical related charities.

 

I’m drawn to the mission of ME Auckland, in particular to increasing the overall support we can offer our clients.

 

I am slowly becoming a westie and I enjoy nothing more than a long walk on Piha beach with my family (and dog).

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Anil Kumar Luthra

Board Member

My life in New Zealand began back in 2002 when I migrated from India with my family. I am a Commerce graduate with a Diploma in Office Organisation and Procedures, and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. I bring vast experience in banking, finance, inventory management, administration, cost management and financial accounting. 

 

I firmly believe in sharing my skills and knowledge in ways that would add value to other peoples’ lives. For this reason, I have volunteered with many not-for-profit organizations in the past and seen through various responsibilities, treasurer being among them. In my spare time I enjoy reading, teaching, gardening, and learning about new technologies and software.

 

I was not familiar with ME before I joined the organisation but being surrounded by people who are passionate about changing the lives of New Zealanders for the better, I feel privilege to extend my skills and experience to such a worthy cause. I am delighted to join ME Auckland Board and hope to bring my vast skill set to assist the organization in all ways possible.

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Kate Duder

Vice President

I have had 20+ years working in the community and local government sector internationally and within New Zealand. For the majority of this time, I managed and facilitated projects and programmes focused on strategic, organisational and community development, and social change. 

My expertise include community empowerment, youth development, health promotion and co-design qualitative research methodology. These skills have been developed through roles with Youthline Auckland, Community Action Youth and Drugs (a Ministry of Health Programme) and Auckland Council’s Community Empowerment Unit.

Prior to these roles I spent 4 years in London, where I worked for Leaders’ Quest, a leadership development organisation, coordinating programmes in Africa, Brazil, Russia and China focused on creating positive change in people and communities. Before returning to NZ, I volunteered within a child and youth organization supporting street children in Tanzania, Africa.

Having faced a health roller-coaster since my early twenties from (previously undiagnosed) Elhers Danlos Syndrome, which lead to Mast Cell Activation Disorder and ME/CFS, I have developed  a passion and belief in the power of natural medicine and a natural lifestyle.  I enjoy supporting others to find natural solutions for improving their physical and mental wellbeing and joined the ME Auckland board in early 2020.

I grew up in Christchurch, love sports and outdoor activities and now live in West Auckland.

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Neerja Mahindra

Treasurer

When I was offered a Treasure role with ME Auckland, I was very excited.   I have an extensive finance background with many small and big organisations within NZ and have always wanted to put my time into good causes. 

 

I graduated in Mathematics (Hons) then upgraded my skills by studying finance and law papers at AUT.   In 2020 I completed a Healthcare and Wellbeing course at MIT and can now use my finance and healthcare skills together for ME Auckland by supporting the board members and clients. I am always keen to help others; this is part of my passion. 

I didn’t know about ME before I joined ME Auckland and as I am get to know about it, I feel like putting more time to support people who are suffering and need help.  Enjoying my work I would like to see ME Auckland to grow in near future.

 

Outside work I enjoy walking, swimming, travelling and cooking.   

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Saul Chambers

Board Member

Saul is a dynamic executive with over 25 years experience helping organisations reach their strategic goals in health, safety, and sustainability. Throughout his career he has worked with a diverse range of stakeholders from global executive teams, grassroot charities, concerned communities, Iwi, local and central governments.

I am excited to bring my corporate governance experience to help a charity whose purpose is to help people with ME/CFS. Tens of thousands of Kiwis are impacted by this often misunderstood and poorly supported illness. Being physically isolated and not being able to complete daily tasks often hinders people's ability to access vital support services they need. I was diagnosed with ME/CFS in 2020 and while my symptoms are mild in comparison to many people with ME/CFS I understand the challenges first hand that people face with this debilitating illness. 

 

My areas of focus are to help drive the strategic direction of ME Auckland and to support the increased care given to people with ME/CFS in Auckland and the services we support across New Zealand."