Evan is a civil engineer who has been actively involved in development as a volunteer, aid advisor, project manager and consultant over the past 38 years. Having lived and worked in Papua New Guinea, Thailand, Kenya, and Nepal he brings considerable international development experience and knowledge of the private sector to the VSA Council. He is currently a project director with GHD, an engineering and environmental consultancy company.
“I am a passionate advocate for the concept of VSA and of development aid and have been actively encouraging our professional staff to consider VSA as a means of contributing to their personal growth.”
Simon's links to VSA include his roles as VSA in-country representative in Vanuatu, volunteer at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre, panel member for volunteer selections, participation in VSA fundraising art auctions and as a consultant advising on VSA's new partnership approach. Simon is currently chair of Council's governance committee. He has a doctorate in international relations and has worked in a wide range of sectors in New Zealand and overseas.
David is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Directors. He has been CEO of state-owned enterprise Learning Media, Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee of the New Zealand Council for Educational Research and board member of a number of industry associations and private companies. His development experience includes running an NZAID programme delivering skills training to government and NGOs in Tonga. David brings his extensive governance and business experience, and a strong focus on business development, communications and marketing.
Deidre is a former VSA volunteer (Solomon Islands, 2004-2006). On returning she led a project on New Zealand involvement in international child support treaties. Deidre is on the senior leadership team at the Electoral Commission and is currently, in association with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, managing delivery of technical assistance to the Fijian electoral authorities who have just conducted Fiji’s first democratic election since 2006. She has found VSA values and people-to-people principles useful in this work, confirming they have application beyond the voluntary sector. Deidre has served on boards of a range of community organisations and brings to the Council her strengths in governance, legal, policy, human resources, change management, and strategic partnerships.
Jo brings to the Council a current knowledge of development policy (particularly the role of women in development) gained through her work as the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and a background of research on family violence in the Pacific. After more than a decade in senior leadership roles she also brings financial management and strategic planning experience. Previous to being appointed the Chief Executive of the Ministry, she was Deputy Children’s Commissioner. She has been part of a number of NGO boards, including IHC and more than six years as a trustee of her children’s school. Jo has completed the Institute of Director’s Company Directors Training and a number of the Institute’s NGO governance courses.
Kirsty’s passion for development was sparked by a VSA assignment in Cambodia in 1992. She has continued to work in international development, mainly for the United Nations and its agencies, in Yemen, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, before returning to New Zealand in 2004. Her career has included six years as a Development Manager at MFAT covering programmes in Polynesia and Melanesia, and Head of Programmes at Save the Children New Zealand. Kirsty is now a development consultant, and has been a VSA Member for over 20 years. She brings experience in designing and implementing activities, securing funding, managing high-level relationships, networking, leading teams, strategic and independent thinking, and building partnerships.
Peter lives in Auckland and has also lived and worked in China, Japan, Australia and England. He set up and was founding chair of a charitable trust for medical aid in Zambia, was Global Operations manager for KEA (Kiwi Expats Abroad) and General Manager for Asia for Air New Zealand Consulting Ltd.; prior to that he was Air New Zealand General Manager for China and South East Asia. As a co-opted Council Member Peter brings a range of skills in finance, management, marketing and business.
Sandy's two years as a VSA volunteer in Fiji led to an international career in rural community development. After working as a Colombo Plan adviser in Malaysia she then spent 25 years with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Africa, Asia and the South Pacific. Now in New Zealand, Sandy has a special interest in impact evaluation and sustainability in development. She chairs a private scholarships trust, is an Abel Tasman Birdsong Trustee and member of the advisory panel for the Asian Institute of Participatory Action for Development.
Sandy brings her international experience to VSA's governance body.
Gavin's association with VSA dates back to 1970 when he became the inaugural Chair of the Nelson Branch, going on to becoming a Council member in 1972 and Council Chair in 1979. He retired from Council in 1989 to become an active member of the Manawatu Branch until departing for Pakistan in 1994. He was elected President of VSA in 1999 on the retirement of President Jim Rowe. Gavin was made a Life Member of VSA upon his retirement from the role of President in 2014.
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VSA was set up in 1962 amid an exciting world climate that talked of the challenge to eradicate world poverty. Within its first year, New Zealand’s very own volunteering agency was sending volunteers to Thailand and Samoa.
In February 1963, Sir Edmund Hillary became VSA’s founding President, a role he continued in for 13 years, steering VSA forward with his unique brand of support and expertise.
More than 50 years on, we are still going strong. In the 1960s, most of our volunteers taught in schools. Today the range of assignments is much broader. VSA's project partners, once mostly host governments, now include a range of government agencies, NGOs (non-governmental organisations), corporates and community organisations.
Our programmes in Melanesia and Timor-Leste are managed from our Wellington office but in-country programme managers in each Melanesian country and Timor-Leste provide on-the-ground support to volunteers and partner organisations and we also have a local staff member in Samoa.
We are an incorporated society and our members vote on resolutions at an AGM (annual general meeting) held every November. VSA is guided by our Kaumātua and a governing body of nine people. The Council meets five or six times each year to agree ongoing policy and activities. Our council works closely with VSA’s CEO,Gill Greer, to oversee policy and strategic implementation.
Dr Gill Greer has been CEO of VSA since July 2012. From 2006-2011 she was Director General of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), an INGO working in 172 countries providing advocacy, education and health services, including maternal health, HIV/AIDS, family planning and adolescent health.
Prior to this she was Executive Director of the Family Planning Association of New Zealand, and Family Planning International, and a frequent speaker at the UN. In 2012 she was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to international health and women’s rights. She has written several books on Katherine Mansfield and journalist and artist Robin Hyde, numerous articles and papers and has been a freelance broadcaster, television panelist and consultant.