Our Group Executive Team


Photo of Barbara Disley

Group Chief Executive: Barbara Disley 

Barbara has extensive leadership and management experience leading large teams within the education and health sectors. She has held a number of senior public positions including Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation. From 1996- 2002, she was the inaugural chair of the Mental Health Commission and from 2002 till 2007 Barbara was Deputy Secretary Ministry of Education where she had responsibility for the integration of the special education service into the Ministry and for the overall leadership, funding and provision of special education services for children and young people. She worked as a Principal Consultant for Cognition Education Ltd leading their research and evaluation team prior to joining Richmond. Barbara has a doctorate in education and in 2011 was made an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Photo of Dr Margaret Aimer

Clinical Director: Dr Margaret Aimer 

As Senior Clinical Director, Margaret is responsible for the provision of clinical governance and advice to the organisation.  Margaret has over 18 years experience as a consultant psychiatrist and had held the position of Clinical Director for Mental Health Services in Counties Manukau DHB from 2004 to April 2012. As Clinical Director, Margaret played  a significant role in the transformational change and ongoing improvement of mental health services within Counties Manukau DHB, leading a number of innovative service developments such as community acute care (alternatives to hospital), home based treatment and Peer Support Specialist services. She had a key role in the development of a comprehensive "lean" improvement system within the mental health service, and in keeping the focus on consumer participation and client/family centred care. Margaret has also provided strong leadership across a number of local, regional and national initiatives such as providing comprehensive service reviews and recommendations for several other DHB mental health services and leading the national KPI benchmarking programme.  She currently also holds the position of Head of Health System Improvement for Ko Awatea, the Counties Manukau DHB Centre for Health System Innovation and Improvement, where she leads a team providing expertise in system improvement methodologies across the health sector.

Photo of Karla Bergquist

Group Director of Services: Karla Bergquist 

Karla is a Registered Nurse and has a post graduate Diploma in Health Management. She has held clinical positions in a variety of mental health settings prior to assuming management roles.  She was Manager of the Regional Eating Disorders Service and Specialist Services before she became Manager of the Acute Mental Health Services for the Auckland District Health Board, a position she held for eight years. For three years Karla took on the Mental Health and Addictions Workforce Development Coordinator position at the NDSA (now NRA) for the 4 Northern Region District Health Boards. Following this she moved to Waitemata DHB as Service Manager for District Mental Health Services for four years. Prior to returning to NZ in 2014, Karla was the Executive Director of the Mental Health Directorate in the Central Adelaide Local Health Network (DHB equivalent) in South Australia.  Karla has many interests and achievements within Mental Health including the reduction of restrictive practices and the use of data to inform practice and service improvement. She is a strong supporter of peer-led services and the development of the lived experience workforce.

Photo of Nicola Coom

Group Director, People & Strategy: Nicola Coom 

Nicola has over 15 years experience leading teams to deliver strategic human resources and organisational development initiatives in the private, public and NGO sectors in New Zealand and Australia, most recently with the Canterbury and West Coast District Health Boards.  Nicola completed a B.A at Canterbury University (majoring in Organisational Psychology) and is currently undertaking Post Graduate studies. Nicola is very active in the community, she has worked with organisations to help break the cycle of generational offending and is currently a Director for two charitable organisations – one of which was established to provide guidance and specialist HR and Recruitment services to the not-for-profit sector, the other aims to reduce the incidence and impact of hereditary cancer. 

Photo of John Cook

Group Director, Business Services & Development: John Cook 

A Chartered Management Accountant with 14 years experience across a variety of finance roles within the professional services sector, John has developed high performing teams and been involved in process improvement to ensure strong relationships permeate throughout an organisation.  John has worked in the health (and more specifically) NGO mental health sector for the past 3 years and has developed a true understanding of what it means be able to meet the needs of the people we serve.  John also has a particular interest in social housing and property related matters.  Prior to returning to New Zealand, he spent 12 years in the UK, the last 6 years working for Colliers International where he was a Director.

Photo of Chris McKenzie

Mana Whakahaere Culture and Inclusion: Chris McKenzie 

Chris has an accomplished teaching, executive management and senior leadership background.  He has over 20 years of experience in the governance and management of Māori organisations delivering cultural, environmental, social and economic outcomes for predominantly Māori and Pasifika communities. He has worked extensively at senior levels to assist in the development and implementation of national policy in the Whānau Ora, Maori Development and Health and Disabilities sectors.

Most recently, he has worked as the Lead Negotiator for the Uenuku Charitable Trust.  Prior to this, Chris held positions as Pou Hononga with Niwa and was the Senior Ministerial Advisor for the office of Te Ururoa Flavell and Tariana Turia and Senior Political Advisor for the office of Marama Fox.   He  was also the Manager and lead negotiator for the Raukawa Trust Board Tokoroa.