Our People

LEAD brings together sector and social change experts from across New Zealand and the Pacific, with collective experience of over a century. Some of our team were creators, trainers and leaders of the Unitec Institute of Technology's Graduate Diploma in Not for Profit Management & Leadership between 1996 and 2018. 

All of us consult and train, and each brings complementary specialities offering a full suite of expertise under one roof. 

Sandy Thompson
Director & CEO

A belief in the power of strong communities has led Sandy to pursue a career as a trainer, consultant and coach in the community and not for profit sector. She has been working and volunteering in the Not for Profit Sector since she was a volunteer youth leader in Whangarei in the 1970’s. Prior to becoming part of LEAD, Sandy was one of the team delivering the Unitec Graduate Diploma in Not for Profit Management, a role she took on after her 10 years as the founding leader of the National Association for OSCAR.

Sandy’s experience as a leader in the not for profit sector and her experience facilitating and mentoring other leaders has led to a specialisation portfolio of values based management and leadership mentoring and training, organisation development based on strengths based approaches including appreciative inquiry, and the training of community facilitators and trainers.

Obvious success in a previous life has resulted in Sandy often working in the Pacific Islands, where she helps to build and deliver leadership development programmes for community leaders. Her current core voluntary roles are as Chairperson of ChildAlert an organisation that fights commercial sexual exploitation of children, and the Pacific representative on ECPAT International who do the same work at an international level. Sandy is also a member of the Trust Board of Hui E! – New Zealand’s national organisation promoting, strengthening and connecting the Community Sector

Areas of Expertise:
Individual and organisation leadership development | Pacific Leadership | Train the Trainer | Team reviews and culture alignment | Facilitation and coaching support of collaborations | Governance | Board development & training | Chair/manager relationship | Leadership transitions and succession | Strategic planning | Programme and organisation reviews | Feasibility studies | Coaching & Mentoring | Group & Meeting Facilitation | Keynote presentations & Conference workshops | Training in the above.

Contact Sandy

Garth Nowland-Foreman

Garth has worked in, with and around not for profit organisations (and those who fund them) since he started his first organisation with school mates as a 16 year old. His ongoing love-affair with not for profit organisations is an expression of his passion to create a more just and inclusive world. Over the years he’s led a government policy unit, worked in a cabinet minister’s office, was National Director for the Australian Council of Social Service, and for 20 years developed curriculum and taught part-time in the Unitec’s programmes.

Now as a Director of LEAD, Garth brings extensive review and evaluation expertise to the team, having conducted major reviews for Lottery Grants Board, NZ Agency for International Development, J R McKenzie Trust, Christian World Service and Community Waikato. As a strategist, he has undertaken projects for a very wide range of organisations, including the Ministry for Social Development, Trade Aid NZ, Asia Development Bank, ESCAP, UN Food & Agriculture Organisation, Commonwealth Foundation, NZ Council for Christian Social Services, AIDS Foundation, Philanthropy NZ, Tindall Foundation, Todd Foundation and Volunteering NZ.

Garth is a seasoned coach, working with leaders from large, small, local and national organisations, for example, Te Tapuae o Rehua, Toy Library Federation, Family Centre (West Auckland), Neighbourhood Trust (Christchurch), Rape Prevention Education, Citizens Advice Bureau NZ, Christian Budgeting NZ, Community Energy Action, Girl Guiding NZ, Waimana Kāku Tribal Executive. He has facilitated workshops in New Zealand, the Pacific, Australia, and Hong Kong on a range of values-based leadership issues, including Governance, Monitoring & Outcomes, Lobbying & Influence, and Strategy & Contracting.

Garth is a strong advocate for ‘our sector knowing better', and chaired the first, collaborative Study of the Non-Profit Sector in New Zealand (as part of the Johns Hopkins International Comparative Study of the Non-Profit Sector), was deputy chair of Australia New Zealand Third Sector Research, and is long-standing co-chair of Tangata Whenua, Community & Voluntary Sector Research Centre. He has written widely on sector issues.

Areas of Expertise:
Governance | Board development & training | Board self assessment | Chair/manager relationship | Strategy & strategic planning | Programme, organisational & funding reviews | Developing outcomes | Evaluation | Monitoring | Purchase-of-service contracting | Unit-costing | Strategic lobbying, advocacy & influence | Strategic philanthropy | Coaching & Mentoring | Group & Meeting Facilitation | Keynote presentations & Conference workshops | Training in the above.

Contact Garth

Aly McNicoll

Aly has over 20 years of experience as a trainer, consultant and leadership development practitioner across the business, public and not for profit sectors of Australia & New Zealand. She was a founding lecturer on the Unitec programme and has always had a passion for teaching and mentoring.

Aly has worked with hundreds of not for profit organisations and leaders to navigate the various challenges they face delivering impossible tasks on minimal resources. Aly worked for 5 years with Pacific NGO leaders on a United Nations Development Project/PIANGO partnership programme running workshops in Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Guam, Pohnpei and Papua New Guinea. She is regularly called upon to present at international conferences in America and Europe to share her expertise in coaching and mentoring. 

Areas of Expertise:
Strategic planning | Meeting facilitation | Team development | Team retreats | Coaching & Mentoring | Governance and board development | Supervision training | Keynote presentations & Conference workshops | Training in any of the above.

Contact Aly

Hilary Star Foged

As a qualified nurse, Hilary spent 20 years working with government and non-governmental organisations in the community health sector from a community development perspective. Her focus was on empowering individuals and communities. Highly motivational in approach, Hilary encourages and inspires others to recognise their own skills and wisdom, and this is reflected in her work with and advocacy for youth, young children and women. 

Also passionate about natural environments, Hilary spent many years working, managing and leading in the landscaping industry, and taught landscaping skills for home gardeners as part of a community education programme. This motivated her to study for a qualification in Adult Education which contributed to her developing interest in teaching and learning.

For ten years, Hilary was a member of the NZ and Pacific teaching team for the Unitec programme. She holds a Certificate of Adult Education and a Post-graduate Diploma in Educational Leadership and Management.  Hilary facilitates workshops, provides coaching for leaders in the not for profit sector, and is an integral part of the training and leadership courses LEAD offers around the country.  She is an experienced and skilled facilitator of Te Tiriti Workshops, exploring with participants both the significance and history of The Treaty of Waitangi, and how to apply its intention and principles in their organisations, as well as how to build relationships and accountability in partnership with Maori.

Areas of Expertise:
Developing & strengthening a Wellness Culture in Organisations | Development & facilitation of Te Tiriti Partnerships | Developing and building team collaboration using the Strengthsfinder Tool | Coaching & Mentoring | Training courses for leaders: mindful leadership, working with people, organisational culture & value led leadership

Contact Hilary

Solomone Duru

With significant leadership experience throughout the Pacific, Solomone has managed an NGO and provided training and capacity development to multiple NGOs and community based initiatives.

He was a General Secretary for the Bible Society of the South Pacific, responsible for overseeing work on 16 islands, and continues to contract for them, as well as a local consulting company providing capacity building to Fijian communities and NGOs. He also consults for the Octagon Leadership and Community Development Program (OLCDP), which he helped co-create - its aim is to develop a Pacific leadership model which empowers local communities and builds their capabilities.

As a trainer and tutor, Solomone was directly involved with the Unitec programme and continues to provide great insight towards NGO Managers around the Pacific including Fiji, Tonga, PNG, Vanuatu, Solomon Is, and Samoa. He developed certificate level courses for NGOs on behalf of the Pacific Island Association of Non Government Organizations (PIANGO),  and also developed a program for Transformational Leadership called MaiMagi for churches, which aims to integrate traditional, spiritual and modern wisdom in real life to help communities - through their leaders - understand the world they are in and hence how to serve effectively.  Solomone is the Chair of the Praxis Pacific Trustees providing developmental training for youth in at least 5 countries of the Pacific. 

Areas of Expertise:
Community and Organisation Development from leadership perspectives | Integrating mindsets in cultures and faith (Pacific, modern and traditional) | Community-based strategic development.

Contact Solo


In 1989 Ruth was asked to create a stakeholder newsletter for a community theatre group protesting racial injustice, and with that ‘fell’ – somewhat naturally – into working with organisations to connect more powerfully with the world around them to have greater social impact and bring about change. She works with visionary leaders and managers of not for profits and other interesting organisations, helping them to translate their great ideas for social good into implementable reality. With a commitment to learning-on-the-go she holds several qualifications in relevant specialties including organisational development, not for profit leadership, and coaching and mentoring. She brings three decades of solid generalist NFP knowledge and a pragmatic approach, and works away from herself, assisting others to learn and grow. 

Ruth does organisation development and change management, process and meeting facilitation, coaches leaders and managers in the sector, and manages the strategic marketing portfolios for several not for profit organisations. Prior to 2008, for six years Ruth led Promotions for NonProfits, a marketing and organisation development consultancy exclusively for not for profit organisations and community groups in Southern Africa. She also facilitated the Southern Africa regional fellowship network for the grant-making agency Ashoka Innovators for the Public, providing mentoring to 50 leading grass-roots change agents and social entrepreneurs.

Areas of Expertise:
Growing Organisational Intelligence (OQ) | Strategic & values-based marketing & communications | Brand-building | Process management & facilitation | Community engagement | Leadership & Middle-management Coaching | Marketing & Communications Mentoring | Group & Meeting facilitation | Strategic planning | Keynote presentations & Conference workshops | Faith-based organisations | International Development organisations.

International Coach Federation (ICF)
Missions Interlink Aotearoa NZ

Contact Ruth


Eleanor has experience working one on one with emergent leaders in a mentoring capacity, as well as supporting youth governance boards. Her role with the Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute saw her mentor young people on their return from word leader forums such as the United Nations and support them in their personal and professional development. Her interest in strengthening the voices of young people, combined with her experience of community development, make Eleanor well placed to run community consultation for young people.

Eleanor is passionate about the rights of minority groups and completed her Masters research in Development Studies on disaster risk mitigation in vulnerable communities. She is currently the Director of ECPAT Child Alert, a children’s rights organisation seeking to end sexual exploitation of children. Eleanor is actively involved in the fields of youth development and children’s rights, previously working at Amnesty International NZ and in Southeast Asia coordinating experiential education programmes.

Areas of Expertise:
Youth leadership development | Social media | Community Consultation | Team building and team retreats | Youth governance | Managing Volunteers | Mentoring emergent leaders | Fundraising | Group & Meeting Facilitation | Campaigning | Community-based strategic development | Research | Training in any of the above.

Contact Eleanor

Kim Penetito & JOSEPH WARU

As professional and life partners Kim and Joseph are Hauā Partnerships, sharing over 60 years’ experience in a huge range of organisational and community development expertise, including Māori development, group facilitation, mediation, and advocacy. Their consulting and training collaboration offers a rich and resourceful spring of knowledge to individuals, leaders, family groups, and small or large organisations in the not for profit and community sectors.

Since 2012 they have worked with a number of organisations to develop their bicultural practice including Rape Prevention Education, NZ Playcentre Federation and Cancer Society; and have facilitated numerous Treaty of Waitangi Workshops with community organisations, most recently Philanthropy NZ member groups. They have facilitated PATH Strategic Planning with SAFVPN, Manurewa Marae and South East Asian Collective; and brought cultural supervision to build the cultural competency of both groups and individuals. During 2017 Hauā Partnerships was appointed by Auckland Council to assist Western Local Boards to strengthen their engagement with the local Māori community.

Hauā Partnerships bring some unique approaches to their work: Their facilitation methodology incorporates a practice developed from their many experiences whilst dealing with diverse groups in a range of fields of interest and focus, whilst 'Brave Conversations' employs a set of protocols that ensure safety-centric learning.

Lindsay Jeffs

Lindsay is a community sector developer, business practitioner and social entrepreneur with a broad background in the not for profit, tertiary education and commercial sectors. Lindsay is fully committed to bringing out individual and organisational capability, and has played a vital role in the formative years of many well known community groups throughout New Zealand. 

During 2017 he worked with organisations such as Christchurch City Council , Canterbury Community Business Trust, Te Tapuae O Rehua, Hauraki Gulf Conservation Trust, Waiheke Adult Learning, Waiheke Community Housing Trust and Home Grown Waiheke Trust. For over a decade he played a fundamental strategic managing role in New Zealand’s first school of social enterprise.

Lindsay is internationally recognised as an advocate for local economic development initiatives and social enterprises in order to address issues facing disadvantaged individuals, communities and the environment. As an accredited social accountant and auditor, Lindsay holds a vast amount of financial knowledge and wisdom within the not for profit sector.