For 30 years the NZ Drug Foundation has worked tirelessly to shift policy, change attitudes and offer a helping hand. Here is the team that makes things happen.
Sarah Helm (Pākehā/Ngāi Tahu) is the new Executive Director of the NZ Drug Foundation, following on from Ross Bell who was in the role for 16 years. She is the main spokesperson for the NZ Drug Foundation, with a focus on drug policy and other drug-related issues.
Sarah is an experienced leader and CEO, driven by her own lived experiences and three decades at the forefront of leading change on health, youth, social and environmental issues. She combines her skills in strategy, creativity, and innovation with political nous to affect progressive change.
Sarah has worked for the Alcohol Advisory Council, Health Promotion Agency and NZ AIDS Foundation. She was head of the NZ Association of Adolescent Health & Development (Ara Taiohi) for a number of years. Most recently, she worked for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet as Strategic Communications Manager for the COVID-19 response.
Although she is based in Wellington with her two school-aged sons, Sarah will always be a South Aucklander at heart.
Sarah writes well, speaks well, and is eloquent, smart, funny. She is equally at home talking about politics or pop culture. Her expertise focuses on health, drug reform, environment, GLBTI issues, parenting, politics and social change.
Ben has worked with young people in the drug and alcohol sector for over a decade, and has built up a strong network. He also has many years’ experience in developing and delivering treatment services for young people, including establishing and overseeing school-based, community, and residential drug and alcohol treatment programmes. He is a registered addiction practitioner and accredited clinical supervisor.
In addition, Ben is the Chair of the Addiction Practitioners Association of Aotearoa New Zealand (dapaanz). In the little spare time he has left, he loves searching YouTube for different covers and remixes of music.
Emily is a self-proclaimed nerd when it comes to her hunger for research and innovation.
Emily has a Masters in Psychology and over 6 years experience in health and research, working across cognitive research, behavioral intervention, m-health tool development, and project management. She has come from a role as a Senior Manager of Public Health and most recently, coordinated testing and health outreach during COVID19. She is a champion for equity within the health system and firmly believes that a harm-reduction approach to alcohol and other drugs is imperative to this.
Like most Canadians, in her free time Emily loves to be outdoors, paddle-boarding, hiking and not being eaten by bears.
Based in Auckland, Eugene will be primarily focused on Whare Tukutuku, the new Workforce Innovation & Education and Training initiative we are developing in collaboration with Te Rau Ora.
Eugene is passionate and committed to enabling change through art and communication. As a researcher, writer and director, he has contributed to over 70 documentaries – primarily social commentaries, touching on justice, addiction and hauora.
Hayden Eastmond-Mein is a communications and marketing all-rounder, with experience across political campaigning, local government, the union movement and the arts. Most recently he was Head of Communications at NZEI Te Riu Roa.
Over the last 15 years he's been lucky enough to make a career out of working for organisations and causes he believes in, which makes the Drug Foundation an ideal home.
Outside of work Hayden enjoys tramping, playing music, and serving on the board of The Pantograph Punch.
Kali has worked for the NZ Drug Foundation for over 4 years. Her extensive background in advocacy, policy and international human rights has seen her work in many international locations including Mexico, Berlin, London and Botswana. A highlight of her career was helping Survival International run a high-profile campaign on behalf of the Kalahari ‘Bushmen’, seeing their land rights case successfully through the High Court of Botswana. Prior to joining us, Kali helped develop youth crime policy as a senior advisor at the Ministry of Justice. At the NZ Drug Foundation she works on a range of policy issues including drug law reform and medicinal cannabis.
Her inexplicable love of extreme cake decorating has recently culminated in a two-metre high treehouse cake, a mer-monster in a bath and a recreation of Mount Olympus.
Over the last 20 years Leah has worked with youth as a youth worker, social worker and supervisor. She has worked primarily in the health and prevention space, designing and facilitating youth development programmes that build skill and prompt reflection. Leah spent the last 13 years facilitating sexual violence prevention programmes in high schools, and loves the conversations that spark change. She believes the key to success is a supportive community. This philosophy guides her work, which also follows a strength-based and resilience building approach.
In her spare time, Leah likes to garden, and although she has killed 40% of what she plants, she persists.
Melanie started working as an Administrator with the NZ Drug Foundation in 2017, and now coordinates the organisation’s communities of practice. Prior to working at the NZ Drug Foundation, Melanie spent three years working for a drug and homelessness charity in a busy recovery hub in Scotland. She helped provide support based on harm reduction, moving towards recovery.
Bringing her unique brand of humour to the mix, Melanie embraces any opportunity to turn the everyday into something puntastic.
Melanie is currently on maternity leave and we look forward to welcoming her back in 2021.
Natalie has a background in journalism, subediting and graphic design. A champion of plain English storytelling, she provides support to ensure online and print resources combine content and visual elements to effectively communicate the right messages.
Since starting with the Drug Foundation in December 2016, Natalie has learned how to film and edit video content, as well as managing social media – which she views as a tool rather than a way of life. In her spare time, she’d rather be out building a treehouse for her kids, or trawling for recyclable materials to improve housing conditions for both her chooks and her family.
Phil knew from a young age that he wanted to spend his career helping people in some way. He has always followed what excites him, which has led to an interesting and varied career.
So far Phil has worked as a helpline operator, support worker, alcohol and drugs practitioner and shift supervisor at a crisis intervention service. He has an honours degree in psychology and is passionate about developing and leading community projects that can reduce harm from alcohol and other drugs.
In particular, he is interested in utilizing new technology to keep up with the changing world we live in.
Ko Taupiri te Maunga
Ko Waikato te Awa
Ko Tainui te Iwi
Ko Ngaati Mahuta te Hapuu
Ko Tuurangawaewae te Marae
No Ngaaruawaahia ahau
Ko Tumokai Morgan tooku ingoa
Before joining the New Zealand Drug foundation whaanau, Tumokai previously worked in the addictions sector as a youth alcohol and drug practitioner where he embraced the harm-reduction philosophy. His time spent there only strengthened his passion for rangatahi wellbeing and has spurred him into spaces where he can create, encourage, and promote opportunities for positive outcomes.
Tumokai is also a father of two lively boys who remind him everyday of the untapped potential that resides in everyone. An avid enthusiast of all things sci-fi/fantasy, a habit for thinking outside the box comes naturally.
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