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Ross has been leading the work of the Drug Foundation since 2004. Since he joined the organisation it has grown in size, ambition and impact. He is committed to taking practical steps to bring harm reduction focussed services to NZ communities, as well as providing credible and fearless advice to politicians, government officials, public health allies and a whole host of others. Joining the dots between people working for change is a top priority for Ross, who regularly convenes people from diverse sectors to talk and collaborate. Ross has been a member of the NZ delegation at United Nations drug talks in Vienna and New York, and is regularly sought out to speak at hui, community meetings and conferences.
Before taking up the position, Ross worked as a university researcher, a foreign affairs adviser, a pizza delivery driver and a social justice advocate. He studied geography and Māori studies for a Bachelor of Arts before going on to complete a MA in Development Studies, both from Auckland University.
During his time with the Drug Foundation Ross has been on the board of the International Drug Policy Consortium, Global Alcohol Policy Alliance, and the NZ Needle Exchange Services Trust.
Before starting as Administrator for the NZ Drug Foundation in February 2017, 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. Melanie provides administrative support and is the positive, front-facing member of every team she works with. She’ll ensure the right resources get to the right place.
Bringing her unique brand of humour to the mix, Melanie embraces any opportunity to turn the everyday into something puntastic.
Gilbert brings over 30 years’ experience across the broader health, social services, education and justice sectors. Backing up that hands-on experience, he also has an MPHA, BA (Hons) and Graduate Dip Social Work from the University of Canterbury.
Gilbert has worked extensively within the Māori health sector, particularly in the alcohol and drug area, including mental health. He has significant governance experience, including policy, practice, research and evaluation. As Principal Adviser for the New Zealand Drug Foundation, Gilbert has a specific focus on Māori drug policy reform.
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, Ben loves searching YouTube for different covers and remixes of music.
Kali’s extensive background in international human rights has taken her to Berlin, London, Mexico City and Botswana. A highlight of that period was helping Survival International to run a high-profile campaign on behalf of the Kalahari ‘Bushmen’, seeing their land rights case successfully through the High Court of Botswana.
Before starting at the Drug Foundation, Kali helped develop youth crime policy at the Ministry of Justice. Now she works on a range of policy issues including drug law reform, methamphetamine-contaminated houses and emergency overdose harm reduction. Her inexplicable love of extreme cake decorating has recently culminated in a pineapple, an American bulldog and Hogwarts castle and grounds, complete with train.
Anna comes from a research, health promotion and public health background. She has a Masters Degree in Critical Health Psychology, and has previously worked alongside New Zealand communities to reduce alcohol and drug harms. After returning from a stint in the UK, she established and chaired the Tertiary Wellbeing Aotearoa NZ network, which connects local health providers to local and international health and wellbeing initiatives.
Anna is currently working on a range of drug policy issues, including drug law reform. In her spare time she is trying to see as much of the world as possible.
Nathan brings more than six years of community development and social change marketing experience, previously focused on queer youth development and HIV prevention. Most recently, Nathan graduated with an MBA from the University of Otago which was followed by four years working in corporate marketing and branding based in Bangkok.
In his spare time, Nathan runs an online interest group dedicated to circuit house, a genre of house music, called CircuitX.
Samuel started his career at the Drug Foundation as a policy intern, while completing an Honours degree in Sociology at VUW of Wellington. He provides support to develop accurate and evidence-based resources, helps maintain website content, and ensures all information requests from schools are responded to with accurate information.
He recently stepped down as the chairperson for Evolve, the youth-one-stop-shop in Wellington Central. In 2018, Samuel began studying towards a Masters of Health Science at Auckland University.
Over the past 25 years Stephen has worked within in a variety of communications and community development roles for a broad range of NGOs and government agencies. After helping create the pioneering CommunityNet Aotearoa website, launched in 1998, much of his focus has been helping organisations to convert ideas for websites and other online tools into reality. Once sceptical of Twitter, he is now deeply immersed using social networks to achieve real world action.
Stephen has a BA (Hons) from the University of Canterbury and a MA (Hons) in Social Policy from Massey University. You’ll often find Stephen biking madly to the train station, or trying to catch up with his kids.
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.