2023 Speakers + Convenors (backup copy)

These are our currently announced speakers and panellists. Keep checking back for further updates.

Master of Ceremonies (MC)

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Korrin Barrett

Life Unlimited

Introducing Korrin Barrett, Master of Ceremonies for the Disability Inclusive Pathways Conference 2023. Following on from her outstanding presentation at the 2022 DIPC Conference, we are thrilled to welcome Korrin back this year as conference MC.

International Speakers

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Melanie Francis

Director of Neurodiveristy at Work - Do-IT Solutions Ltd

Mel Francis, Chartered FCIPD, is an accomplished HR Director with over 25 years’ experience gained in the public, private and not for profit sectors.

Mel has gained her significant experience working in the Higher Education, Edtech, Publishing and Telecoms sectors.

She has been taught by Professor Amanda Kirby, CEO of Do-IT Profile and a globally renowned neurodiversity specialist and achieved a qualification in neurodiversity. She is an Associate Trainer at Do-IT Profiler where she supports organisations to become neuroinclusive in their people practices, throughout the employee lifecycle.

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Kate Nash OBE

Founding CEO - Purple Space

Kate Nash OBE is founding CEO of PurpleSpace. She is External Advisor to GSK’s Global Disability Council, Strategic Disability Advisor to Post Office Ltd and a member of the UK Government’s Minister’s Disability Confidence Business Leaders’ Group.

In 2007 she was awarded an OBE for services to disabled people.


A pakeha man with short hair sitting in a cockpit of an aircraft. He wears a grey shirt and is smiling at the camera.

Ed Collett

Air New Zealand

Ed is the Enable employee network founder and chair at Air New Zealand. The Enable Network provides support for employees with disabilities or employees that have family members with disabilities.

Ed is co-presenting with Rachel Moon.

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Sonja Eriksen

Principal Disability Advisor, Ministry of Social Development

Sonja brings over 30 years of experience, with background in nursing, researching, teaching and supporting mental wellbeing. She is passionate about the intersection of physical and mental health and is well known across Aotearoa for leading significant government and community initiatives in disability and mental wellbeing, trauma-informed care and suicide prevention from both clinical and lived experience. Sonja is the current Principal Disability Advisor at MSD.

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Rachel Moon

Air New Zealand

Rachel is Senior Manager - People Safety Business Partnering/Special Assistance Team Operations Manager at Air New Zealand and a member of the Enable Network.

The Enable Network provides support for employees with disabilities or employees that have family members with disabilities. The network also advocates for employees and customers with disabilities to ensure a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Rachel is co-presenting with Ed Collett.

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Red Nicholson

Executive Director - The D*List

Red is a creative thinker, social innovation practitioner, and proud disabled person. He now leads The D*List, a social change movement to transform attitudes towards disability in Aotearoa.

Red is co-presenting with Olivia Shivas.

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Olivia Shivas

Editor - The D*List

Olivia Shivas is a multimedia journalist specialising in disability issues and currently editor at The D*List. As a wheelchair user herself and being mixed-race (Chinese/Malaysian and European), she is passionate about empowering underrepresented and marginalised groups.

Olivia is co-presenting with Red Nicholson.

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Jonathan Tautari

Senior Advisor, Disability Lead - Te Tāhū Hauora Health Quality & Safety Commission

Jonathan Tautari (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine and Ngāti Manaia) has worked in the health and disability sector for over 18 years, holding senior advisory and policy management positions. He has also worked in communities across Northland and Auckland working alongside tāngata whaikaha Māori and their whānau to share their collective experiences, voices, and stories.

Jonathan's presentation titled "Raranga – a Metaphor for Partnership" draws upon the art of raranga (weaving) to illustrate the importance of effective collaboration. By weaving together the community's experiences, knowledge, voices, and stories, shedding light on the transformative power of partnership.

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Paula Tesoriero MNZM

Chief Executive - Whaikaha, Ministry of Disabled People

Paula is responsible for providing strategic leadership to Whaikaha and across the system to achieve better outcomes for disabled people in New Zealand.

Paula is well-known and a respected leader in the disability community. She is disabled and has a deep knowledge of the challenges and opportunities for the disability community.

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Phil Turner

Chief Executive - NZDEN

Phil is committed to seeing a change in the inclusion of disabled and neurodiverse people through supporting employers to make meaningful and sustainable changes to their culture. He believes that this can only be achieved by treating them as a partner and empowering them to have ownership of their own journey.

Lived Experience Storytellers

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Jonathan Darby

Born with Spina Bifida, Jonathan has life-long lived experience of disability and the challenges that this brings, including employment.  He is a graduate of Canterbury University, with a law degree and a BA in Political Science.  He holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Health Sciences in Bioethics.  Jonathan works as a Community Liaison with the Electoral Commission and serves on a Health and Disability Ethics Committee.

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James Edley

I was effectively born with a speech and to a lesser degree mobility based disability. However it has not stopped me at all from pursuing my passion / hobby / education and career journey within the Information Technology sector.

Undoubtedly the somewhat variable impact to my speech has not helped my career journey in the slightest.

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Gavin Lamb

Gavin has spent the last 8 + years battling ME/CFS – Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome after contracting Epstein Barr Virus on a Habitat For Humanity Build in Bangladesh.

While many doors have been closed, CFS has also caused me to reassess things and opened, new doors, new opportunities. These include confidence and leadership development , and opportunities to serve our communities. This has been through Toastmasters, as NZ Ambassador for World Speech Day,  and with the Health Consumer Council at Te Whatu Ora - Te Tai Tokerau.

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Monica Leach

My name is Monica Leach, and I have been living in Auckland for nearly 20 years as I am originally from the UK. I obtained my degree from a UK university and went on an exchange to California for one semester. I also did voluntary work in Kenya, East Africa. I am married to a lovely Deaf Kiwi husband who graduated from Gallaudet University in Washington DC. Together, we have two wonderful teenage boys aged 16 and 15, both of whom are CODA - Children of Deaf Adults.

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Sean Prenter

Sean is Co President for the National Disabled Students’ Association and 2022 Co President of the Otago Disabled Students’ Association. Sean has presented research on Cripping Sustainability at Tertiary Institutes at the Global Disability Summit and Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability Conference and researches accessible urban form. Sean represented New Zealand in the CAMP2030 New York innovation lab and is on the youth advisory group for Inspiring Stories. Across these channels Sean engages his pūmanawa of ensuring disabled peoples access, inclusion and dignity.

Panel Convenors

Head shot of a woman, Sandra Budd. She has short hair, glasses, and is smiling warmly at the camera

Sandra Budd

Senior Relationship Manager - NZDEN

Following a career as a senior executive in the Australasian health, disability and not for profit sectors and with governance experience on social purpose Boards, Sandra is passionate about working with employers to build capability and confidence within their organisations to unlock the potential for more disabled and neurodiverse people to gain employment.

A man, Selwyn Cook, with short brown hair and glasses, smiling at the camera.

Selwyn Cook

Selwyn Cook - Disability Employment

Selwyn is an independent facilitator of Disability Employment. This allows him to continue to promote the benefits to employers so they consider the disability talent pool. His work with providers, the wider disability community and with employers not just supports the building of more inclusive workplaces but also a more inclusive New Zealand.

A caucasian woman (Sharon) with shoulder-length blonde hair and glasses, smiling at the camera.

Dr Sharon Crooks

Lecturer in Psychology, Massey University

Dr. Sharon Crooks is a qualitative researcher and lecturer in the School of Psychology at Massey University. As a recipient of the Vice-Chancellor's doctoral scholarship, she pioneered research on the everyday experiences of autistic adolescents in mainstream NZ high schools, the first of its kind in NZ.

She is currently focused on developing her research portfolio with multiple neurodiversity projects in tertiary education. She actively participates in four Communities of Practice dedicated to supporting neurodivergent students and staff within tertiary institutions. Her ADHD research offers an insider perspective, exploring phenomenological experience and neurodivergent intersubjectivity to challenge prevailing assumptions, emphasise acceptance, and explore the meaning of connection and friendship.

A blonde haired woman (Julie Woods) smiling. She has a black lace top on and a pearl necklace.

Julie Woods

That Blind Woman

When Julie Woods went blind in 1997 as a 31-year-old mother, she thought her life had ended; little did she realise it had only just begun. Soon, Julie couldn't stop saying 'why not'. She believes that people are often scared of disability and doing the wrong thing and she aims to make them more comfortable with the world of disability by playing the ‘Accessibility Game’.


A man (Phil O'Reilly) in a blue suit, business shirt and tie.

Phil O'Reilly ONZM

Chief Executive - Iron Duke

Phil O'Reilly ONZM is the Managing Director of Iron Duke Partners, a public policy advisory firm located in Wellington. With his extensive experience and advocacy, he is a renowned global business leader.

His governance and advisory roles have covered a broad spectrum of areas, such as trade, sustainability, diversity, pay equity, manufacturing, tertiary education, child poverty, social welfare, and the future of work, for both New Zealand and overseas organisations.

Phil is on the panel with Kirsten Patterson.

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Kirsten Patterson

Chief Executive - Institute of Directors

Kirsten Patterson is a Chartered Member of the IoD. A strong advocate of diversity, KP is a member of Global Women New Zealand and was one of the founding members of Global Women’s ‘Champions for Change’, a group of senior executives and directors who commit to diversity in the workplace.

Kirsten is on the panel with Phil O'Reilly.

Profile photo of Loren Savage, a woman with long brown hair and glasses, outdoors with water behind her. She is smiling at the camera.

Loren Savage

Senior Advisor to the Chief Executive - Whaikaha, Ministry of Disabled People

As a proud disabled woman, Loren has been actively involved in the disability public sector communication and engagement space for almost a decade.

Passionate about improving the lives of all disabled people in Aotearoa New Zealand, Loren wants to empower as many people as she can to think about how they can use person-centred and mainstream first principles in their work to enhance the lives and mana of disabled people.

A woman (Joanie Sims) with long blonde hair and glasses.

Joanie Sims

Organisational Development & Capability Interim Lead - Te Whatu Ora - Health NZ

Joanie is the Organisational Development Director for Te Whatu Ora, with a successful career history across all aspects of business and health leadership, human resources, and organisational development.  Experienced in national strategy, organisational development, culture transformation and change leadership.

Joanie is currently at the forefront of the change transformation across Te Whatu Ora.