SFNZ National Board

Dick Brown – Chairperson

Dick’s relevant experience for National Council is his experience in MAF and the committee of Supporting Families in Mental Illness (SF) Nelson.

He worked for 13 years in management in MAF Agricultural Advisory Services and MAF Fisheries, prior to this he was a farm advisor in MAF for 12 years. In more recent years he has worked for NZ Hops Limited in; quality control, health & safety, quality and contingency planning. He has also played a significant role in the formation of the SF Top of the South Alliance and is its current chair.He has been involved with the committee of SF Nelson for a total of 19 years, 17 of these as president. He also had a 2-year term on SFNZ National Council from 2010 to 2012 with his primary role being planning.

His relevant experience/skills for a role on National Council includes; financial management, governance, strategic planning, team-work, health & safety, consultation with a variety of community groups, communications in many forms and 2 family members with experience of a serious mental illness. Dick has a passion for the work SFNZ member societies perform and if elected to National Council would work to have an effective council that is transparent and has good communications with member societies. He sees advocacy/consultation (the voice for families/whanau with a member who experiences a mental illness) with Government as a high priority for SFNZ National Council.

For recreation Dick enjoys nothing better than going camping in Alison and his caravan with kayaks close by and taking numerous day walks.

Gary W Sturgess JP Life IMNZ

Gary has an extensive background in corporate management and governance with over 40 years’ experience as an organisational ambassador (CEO and General Manager), having successfully acted as chief executive for a variety of commercial businesses, local government, public sector and not for profit organisations. He moved to Palmerston North for family reasons in early 2014.

He has experience in local government, education, financial planning, small business development and his last position was as chief executive of Totara Hospice, providing end of life care within the south Auckland community. Since semi retiring in 2012, Gary has completed a major project for Venture Taranaki, the region’s development agency. Their economic development team works with individuals, businesses, clusters and industries to grow Taranaki.

Having previously been the Chairman of the Board, Gary was appointed the interim chief executive of the New Zealand Institute of Management (NZIM) from 1 January to September 2014. He is a director of Lifeline New Zealand, the Lifeline NZ Charitable Trust and a National Council Member of Supporting Families in Mental Illness (SFNZ). He led the integration of the regional lifeline centres in New Zealand. He was appointed a Justice of the Peace for New Zealand in 1989 and is a Life Fellow of IMNZ.

Gary has a strong practical management background and his strengths are in strategic planning and implementation, organisational direction, leadership and people management.

Married to his late wife Val for 37 years, they have four adult daughters, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. His interests include photography, wine and family.

Kate Yesberg

Kate Yesberg works at the Treasury in international policy. Prior to joining the Treasury, she practised as a public lawyer. Kate completed a Masters of Law at New York University as a Fulbright Scholar in 2014, and was on the Board of Atareira from 2011-2013.
She has volunteered with a number of other organisations in New Zealand and overseas, including Oxfam New Zealand, human rights organisations in Cambodia, and the United Nations in Indonesia.

Kate lives in Wellington with her husband.

Richard Skeates

I have been involved in SFMI Waikato since 2002 serving on the committee since this time. I live in Raglan, work in Research and Development and as Project Manager for a Hamilton based company. I have had previous experience on governance boards having served on the Raglan Area School Board of trustees and on the Board of Directors for a company I was a partner in. I feel I have a good understanding of the governance role necessary to be able to contribute to the National Council.

My involvement with SFMI came about through my son, Dylan, who developed schizophrenia in his late teens and has lived with this illness ever since – he is now 39. He lives with his partner and two children in Raglan.

Ruth Morgan

As a member of a family experiencing mental health challenges, Ruth has valued the support provided by Supporting Families. This experience, in addition to meeting with families who share very similar situations is why she joined the board of Supporting Families Auckland over three years ago and why she is committed to contributing to the organisation in the future.

Her extensive work history has been gained in both the public and private sectors in NZ, Australia, Europe, USA and Asia.

With a depth and breadth of experiences that continue to positively impact those she works with, Ruth originally trained and worked as a speech and language therapist, naturally progressing to become a teacher for deaf children. Ruth successfully translated those skills into operations management, human resources, learning and development and ultimately to consulting for a wide variety of organisations. Since 2000 Ruth has managed her own company facilitating, consulting, coaching and training in the workforce in a wide range of organisations.

Sakthy Wijeyesinghe

Sakthy is a fully qualified accountant with a background in Management Accounting especially in the Public Health Sector. Sakthy has worked at both Auckland District Health Board and Waitemata District Health Boards as Group Management Accountant and Finance Manager. Prior to moving to the Public Health Sector Sakthy worked in the banking industry in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

Sakthy became a member of the SFNZ Charitable Trust Board in March 2019. In addition to her work with SFNZ, Sakthy is kept busy supporting two other Not For Profit organisations as well as looking after her two teenage children and her husband!