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.

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Natalie Newall
Client Support Coordinator

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 look forward to future opportunities to help, support and provide advocacy to others.

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Michelle Green
Administrator

This is my first time back in paid employment since my diagnosis of ME/CFS. When I became sick with ME/CFS I had just retrained as a primary school teacher and was in the first year of my new career, so I know first hand what it is like to have your life and future plans be turned upside down by this illness!

I’m so excited, not only to be working a little bit again, but also helping my fellow patients of ME/CFS by assisting in the administration of this supportive charity.

 

I have strong administration, organizational skills and attention to detail from a varied background as an Interior Design Consultant, a Small Business Owner-Manager, Playcentre volunteer & Educational Facilitator, and a Primary School Teacher. 

I live in West Auckland, with my teenage son, on the edge of the Waitakere Ranges & Manukau Harbour. I love being outdoors in nature and being creative within the visual arts.
 

Board

Patrick Hadfield

President

I am a 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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Grace Ross

Secretary

I work as a doctor at Auckland City Hospital. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Genetics and a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, both from Otago University. My medical interests are in women’s and reproductive health and I recently completed a Masters of Science in Clinical Embryology from Oxford University. 

My first encounter with ME/CFS was during my undergraduate years, where Professor Warren Tate detailed to our biochemistry class his personal and professional connection with ME/CFS. The biology behind ME/CFS remains poorly understood, and unfortunately accurate diagnostic tests are lacking. Therefore, many ME/CFS patients have a delay to diagnosis and suffer ongoing symptoms as there is currently no singular cure. 

I have watched ME/CFS’s impact on friends’ and patients’ quality of life, highlighting its varied and often difficult trajectory. But this has also underlined the benefit of solid support networks and appropriate care from the health system and beyond. 

I see Auckland ME as a voice and advocate for people who live with ME/CFS, and hope that through my time as Board Secretary I can help in expanding Auckland ME’s influence so that more people are helped. 

Outside of work I enjoy cycling, drawing, and getting a nature hit at any of Auckland’s beautiful beaches. 
 

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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).

Sharelle Rowntree

Board Member

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Sharelle has come to us from the social sector with management, sales and marketing experience.

 

I have worked in vulnerable communities in both South and West Auckland. I love to help people have a better life, this is what has drawn me to ME Auckland.

 

I recently completed a Business degree (majoring in Business Management and HR) at Auckland University of Technology. I had not been to university from school and wanted to add this to my achievements. Going to Uni as an experienced manager gave me a great resource of experience with the opportunities to learn modern strategies. I also have qualifications as a youth worker, adult learning facilitator and am qualified to teach numeracy and literacy. I like to challenge myself, I am interested in Maori and Pasifika cultures, and I am currently studying Te Reo part-time.

 

I enjoy a game of golf and a chat with friends.

 

I am hoping that I can bring my experiences to help ME Auckland effectively reach as many people as 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.

 

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."