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.
Aimee Beech originally hails from the U.K. and started her career working in community OST services in England.
Running needle exchange and Naloxone programs sparked a passion for harm reduction, and she became a leader in this area within her organisation. She returned to Aotearoa in 2016, bringing her wealth of knowledge and experience to clinical roles in the criminal justice and youth sectors and now to the New Zealand Drug Foundation.
Aims is a proud member of the rainbow community, and in her free time can usually be found at the beach with her partner and canine fur baby.
Dr Annabel Prescott has both Māori and Samoan whakapapa, and has worked for 20 years in youth health, development and drug use.
Annabel is a registered addictions practitioner and clinical supervisor, and was most recently Chief Executive for Anamata Youth One Stop Shop in Taupō. Before that, she was a Senior Academic at Unitec and WelTec. Annabel's doctoral research focused on drug policy in schools. Her Master's research was in and protective factors for harmful cannabis use amongst young people.
Outside of this mahi, Annabel is the mother of two children, an avid reader, and occasionally undertakes ultra marathon events and trail running.
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).
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.
Feilidh is a communications specialist and former journalist who is passionate about working towards a more equitable and inclusive society. He has worked in multiple government communication and marketing roles spanning the education, privacy and environmental sectors.
He also lived in Germany and Denmark for three and a half years, where he completed his MA in journalism and globalisation.
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 is loving learning to be a new dad.
Originally from Poland, Jacek is passionate about harm reduction as a way to improve people’s health and wellbeing. He moved to Aotearoa over 6 years ago to pursue his doctoral studies on HIV prevention and has extensive background in health research and policy. In both sexual health and substance use areas, his focus is on policies that enable equitable access to effective prevention and support. At the Drug Foundation, he works on a range of policy issues spanning from drug law reform to influencing system polices to improve access to harm reduction for all people who use drugs in Aotearoa.
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 has worked in the AOD sector for over a decade, in both New Zealand and the UK. Her introduction to the sector was providing frontline administrative support to a busy recovery hub in Scotland. While there, she discovered a passion for providing harm reduction-based support and information.
Mel started at the Drug Foundation as an Administrator in 2017. For the past few years, she has worked as a Programme Lead, with a focus on leading resource development and coordinating the organisation’s communities of practice.
Outside work, Mel looks after her young daughter. Her free time is spent reading, playing the piano, and thinking about doing some exercise.
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 utilising new technology to keep up with the changing world we live in.
Shaun leads Rewired, a support group for men who have sex with men and use methamphetamine. He combines a drive towards empowering communities to meaningfully support themselves with a background in criminology and psychology, completing an Honours degree in the former.
With a knack for positively expanding boundaries and keeping an oft-forgotten lens of pleasure over the conversation, he’s whole-heartedly adopted a harm reduction philosophy to inspire change and spark discussion.
Prior to joining the Foundation, he worked frontline in various housing and homelessness support organisations, and has led research into the ways that pleasure, risk, and harm reduction overlap for men who PnP in Aotearoa.
An out and proud member of the Rainbow community, he has a particular interest in improving equity and care for folks under this umbrella, ensuring space is made at the table for their unique perspectives.
Shaun’s free time is spent enjoying board games, caring for his growing plant collection, cultivating playlists, or deep-diving into whatever flavour-of-the-month hobby has piqued his interest at the time.
E te tī, e te tā, e ngā mātāwaka o te motu, tēnā koutou katoa.
He uri ahau nō Ngā Ariki Kaipūtahi, Ngāti Kahungungu me Ngāti Ruanui.
I pākeke au ki Te whanganui-a-Tara. Ko Tremaine tāku tamaiti. Ko Tanya Cook tōku ingoa.
Tanya was born and raised here in our capital city and come to the NZ Drug Foundation from Te Pou (National Workforce Centre for mental health, addiction and disability). She originally started within the addiction sector eight years ago as part of the Matua Raki team (previous National Addiction Workforce Development Centre), and has over 15 years experience in administrative roles. Over the years she has developed and maintained strong network connections, and she is passionate about how she can help contribute in her role towards developing equity and improving health outcomes for māori, tāngata whai ora, rangatahi and their whānau.
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 impact.
Tumokai is also a father of three, who regularly remind him 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.
Originally trained in graphic design, Zoë is a communications generalist who has had the pleasure of working for causes she believes in for over eight years.
She enjoys finding ways for organisations to reach people, spark meaningful conversations and win hearts and minds via online channels. Zoë has volunteered with drug checking organisation KnowYourStuffNZ for four years and is excited to apply that knowledge to her work with the Drug Foundation.
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