Our Leadership 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.

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 Gordon Attwood

General Manager Mind & Body: Gordon Attwood 

Gordon has worked extensively in social sector fields in both rural and city locations. His work experience includes income support, social work, offender rehabilitation, youth, children with special needs, health and disabilities, and social development. He brings extensive management experience including as Regional Manager (Community Probation Service) from 1995 to 2001 and as Regional Manager for Ministry of Education (Special Education) from 2002 to 2008. Other social sector experience includes community and private consultancy experience. Moving into the mental health sector in 2011, Gordon later became General Manager of the Mind and Body companies (one a Tertiary Training Provider and the other a Consumer Consultancy and Peer Support service for mental health). Gordon has a particular interest in quality from the customer perspective, and also in overall people development. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science, and also a post-grad Diploma in Management (PMER).

Photo of Karla Bergquist

General Manager Service Delivery: 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

General Manager People Strategy & Performance: 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

General Manager Business Services & Social Housing: 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 Theodora Despotaki

Director Communications & Stakeholder Engagement: Theodora Despotaki 

Theodora is responsible for all CEO and Board communications, strengthening the organisation's reputation through effective brand management and stakeholder engagement for Emerge Aotearoa.  She is also responsible to oversee all aspects of support required by the Board in the governance of the organisation.  Theodora has been involved in mental health for more than 16 years in a variety of roles. She has previously worked with District Health Boards, assisting in the development and implementation of new and innovative mental health and social services.  Theodora played a key role in the development of peer support services within Auckland.  Theodora holds a bachelors degree in Social sciences and a Masters in Clinical Psychology.  As a registered clinical psychologist, Theodora has also completed study in Industrial Organisational Psychology.

Photo of Lorna Murray

General Manager Strategy & Community Development: Lorna Murray 

Lorna's role helps Emerge Aotearoa to connect with the people and communities that it serves.  The role taps into emerging and evidence based practice,, and supports innovation and  development within the organisation, health and disability sectors and communities.  Lorna is passionate in her belief that everyone can live well when they get opportunities to build on their strengths, and develop skills and supports. Lorna trained as an Occupational Therapist in the UK in the 80s, and has worked in many roles and functions in clinical and community service delivery and management  in the mental health and  addictions sector.  Lorna immigrated to NZ in 1996, working as a contractor, then as General Manager of Challenge Trust, and CEO of Connect.  Lorna has a graduate diploma in not-for-profit management from Unitec and participates actively in the community sector.  Lorna has a Masters in Public Management from Victoria University and an interest in how to help citizens, the public sector and government engage effectively and develop sustainably.  Lorna’s professional interests include Leadership, management, governance, collaboration, visioning, strategic thinking and planning, creative innovation, social enterprise, people and organisational development, information and outcomes.

Photo of Manu Sione

General Manager Cultural Leadership & Development: Manu Sione 

Manu is of Maori (Ngati Whatua), Samoan (Fagamalo and Luatu’unua) and Cook Island (Pukapuka) descent. He was born in Auckland and raised in Otara, South Auckland. Manu has over 20 years experience in senior leadership and management roles in the private, public and NGO sector.  In his last role he was responsible for the leadership, oversight and implementation of the strategic priorities of an organisation covering the northern region area including Tairawhiti, Taupo, Hauraki, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Auckland and Northland.  A focus on Maori clients and working with Iwi to develop Maori clinicians and kaupapa Maori services was a highlight during this time.  For several years Manu was General Manager Pacific Health Counties Manukau District Health Board (CMDHB). He was responsible for overseeing the contracting and delivery of Pacific services to hospital, community and regional programmes throughout Counties Manukau and the Pacific. Mental health services were a significant part of the contracts delivered and allowed Manu to be at the cutting edge of some of the developments for Pacific communities.