Our Board guides how we work at AccessAbility. Each member has personal and professional experience of disability.
Rachel Stephenson (Chair)
Rachel has been on the AccessAbility Board since 2008 and was appointed Chair in December 2012.
She works from Hamilton as an independent consultant, project manager, auditor and facilitator with Non-Government Organisations in the health and disability sector. With expertise in quality, systems, processes, accountability, training and development, she has also been a member of national committees reviewing sector standards.
Rachel has a Graduate Diploma in Management Studies; National Certificate in Quality Assurance; New Zealand Certificate in Adult Education and Training; and is a Registered Quality Manager.
Gary is Ngati Porou and lives in Christchurch. He is particularly interested in issues for disabled people, especially disabled Māori; leadership development and training; the rights of disabled people; and effective organisational governance and management.
He was involved in the development of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and has very clear ideas about what it means and how it should be implemented.
Gary was the CEO of the Disabled Persons Assembly for 11 years. Before that, he worked as a specialist software developer for the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences.
Gary has been on the AccessAbility Board since 2010.
Julia has worked in the health and disability sector for more than four decades.
She attributes her passion as a disability advocate to the experience and knowledge gained from her son, who has autism, and from supporting her husband who sustained a severe traumatic brain injury.
Julia is a Registered Nurse. She worked in the communications team for the Central Regional Health Authority and was a government appointee to the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board. She has also served many voluntary organisations and held national positions in Disabled Persons Assembly New Zealand and Autism New Zealand.
She is a founding member and director of a family governed service – New Breeze Limited, which was established in 2004 to manage the Individualised Funding package for her son Richard. Julia lives and works in the Bay of Plenty.
Paul has been at the forefront of finding solutions to mobility and access issues for many years.
He was previously Chief Executive of the Families Commission. Before this, he held the roles of General Manager of the Department of Internal Affairs Community Development Group; Director of Advocacy under the Health and Disability Commissioner; and Manager of Disability Support Services for the Ministry of Health.
His work in the Non-Government Organisation sector has included management of CCS Disability Action branches in both Wellington and Manawatu.
He is now based in Tauranga and is the Director of Panamac Enterprises, a consultancy that specialises in leadership, strategy and community development.
Paul has also been involved in numerous community projects, including the Protect the Brains Trust cycle helmet campaign, for which he was the National Chairperson.
Paul was an active member of the New Zealand Paraplegic Boat Team and has represented New Zealand at the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games.
Pati has been working in the disability sector for 10 years. He is also the incoming president of the Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA).
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has underpinned and inspired much of Pati’s work. He has been involved at a strategic level with Whānau Ora and worked closely with former Minister of Disability Issues Tariana Turia for 18 months as a Whānau Ora champion. Pati has also worked with the Ministries of Social Development and Health, as well as the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).
This accumulated experience has honed his passion for providing strategic direction and effective policy development, particularly to enable people in the Pacific community to better utilise Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC).
Michelle lives in Auckland where she has worked as a business consultant and advisor for almost 20 years.
She has strong commercial business experience from a range of industries specialising in strategic development, performance improvement and focusing on long term objectives and sustainability. She also offers 15 years of successful business ownership experience, which provides practical expertise and enables her to have a broad understanding and empathy of all stakeholders.
Michelle is new to the disability sector but she has had an immediate family member experience the difficulty navigating through some of the organisations so she has a drive to make this easier and more accessible.
Michelle recently completed a Masters of Business Administration (with Distinction). She is a member of the Institute of Directors and holds a Diploma in Business Management.