Great Potentials Foundation is managed by a team of dedicated and committed people with skills and qualifications in education, health, social work, counselling, and, of course, in life. They bring expertise, common sense, energy, practicality and a belief in people’s potential.
Dame Lesley Max
Co-Founder and Trustee
DMNZ MBE, MA(Hons)
Dame Lesley Max is the Co-founder and Trustee of Great Potentials Foundation.
Her background includes University of Auckland; secondary school teaching, mainly in London; freelance journalism, principally for METRO and writing. Her book “Children: Endangered Species?” (Penguin, 1990) has been profoundly influential in New Zealand.
Dame Lesley co-founded Great Potentials Foundation (originally known as Pacific Foundation) in 1990, together with businessman, author and broadcaster, Gordon Dryden. Lesley created the Family Service Centre model, introduced HIPPY (Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters) in New Zealand, and developed MATES (Mentoring and Tutoring Education Scheme).
Awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship, Lesley studied successful interventions in child protection and education in five countries. On her return, she was influential in the establishment of Family Start in New Zealand.
Lesley is patron of Family Help Trust, the National Council of Women, and Teach First NZ.
She has been appointed to a number of roles by Governments, including as a Director of the Northern Regional Health Authority, and a member of the Family Violence Advisory Committee to successive Ministers.
She was a founding supporter of the Brainwave Trust and has filled advisory roles for a number of tertiary institutions.
Lesley was awarded a MBE in 1994 and was made Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2010 for services to the community.
BA, MPhil (Hons), FNZIM, CMInstD
Jacki has a background in health, education and social services, particularly with non-profit organisations working for and with vulnerable or disadvantaged communities. She enjoys working in partnership with others to deliver effective and efficient services that meet community needs. Jacki believes in and supports the best that can be and takes this philosophy into all aspects of her work. She is committed to investing in the future of both individuals and communities and leads the Foundation in its important work. Jacki holds both a Bachelor and a Masters (Management Studies) degree from The University of Auckland, is a Fellow of the Institute of Management and a Chartered Member of the Institute of Directors.
Research & Evaluation Manager
BA Cert ConRes Cert TT PGCert R&A MA(Hons)
John joined Great Potentials in 2018. His main responsibility is to undertake and deliver systematic evaluations of the three programmes that Great Potentials Foundation operates - HIPPY, Family Service Centres and MATES.
John has extensive experience in social research from his many years at Statistics New Zealand and more recently as a lecturer and senior researcher at AUT University. John's most recent research was the first ever Global Survey on Language Revitalisation run by Recovering Voices at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.
John is a PhD candidate with the International Centre for Language Revitalisation at AUT University. His thesis research investigates how spaces where Samoa language maintenance is statistically observed in Aotearoa-New Zealand, impacting on Samoa diaspora in Aotearoa-New Zealand.
Business Development Manager
Family Service Centre Manager
National Director HIPPY New Zealand
Mark is a Community Development Specialist, who has worked with young people and communities to develop practical solutions to improve outcomes for the most vulnerable. He believes long term sustainable change takes effort and commitment from many and he is determined to play his part, holding close the whakatauki 'He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata translated 'What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people'.
Mark has worked for both Government agencies and in the not for profit sector for the past 20 years and is a trained police officer having previously worked across Auckland and Northland. Mark joined Great Potentials as the National Director of HIPPY in 2018.
Hippy National Advisor: Development
A.C.A.T, BA(Education & Sociology), B.F.F.L, ESOL(Trinity
Karen has an extensive background in Education, ranging from preschool training, homeschooling and working with youth and families to counselling, teaching at the University of Auckland Language School (ELA) and most recently as the HIPPY site coordinator at Ranui.
As a HIPPY NZ Advisor, Karen is particularly focused on developing both coordinators and tutors to support delivery of the HIPPY programme in local communities across New Zealand.
HIPPY National Advisor: Programme
Yvette has a background in Early Childhood Education, administration and event planning and is a passionate advocate of the importance of the early years in the life of our tamariki. She is an ardent supporter of the transformational power of HIPPY for families after seeing first- hand the benefits during her time as coordinator for HIPPY North Shore. Yvette believes that the programme gives whanau accessible and substantive tools to effective positive, meaningful change in their parenting and within themselves.
HIPPY Project Manager
Smita comes from a background in youth and community development with experience in providing counselling and mentoring support through phone and electronic mediums. Smita is based with Great Potentials for a one year project to develop and implement communications, social media and technology practices to support the national HIPPY team. She is excited to be working with an organisation whose programmes have real and inter-generational impact in our communities
National Director, MATES
BA, LLB, MA (Hons)
Shana is herself a role model for the Mentees whose lives she touches. The daughter of immigrants from Samoa, Shana was the first of her family to go to university, graduating with degrees in Arts, Law and two Masters Degrees in Anthropology and Pacific Literature at the University of Auckland in 2007.
Shana is responsible for overseeing the strategic leadership, project development and management of our MATES programmes.
MATES Mentor 2002-2004
MATES Coordinator 2005-2008
MATES Regional Manager, Auckland
BA (Hons), MA (Hons)
Andrew has helped to equip students to achieve success in English and Essay writing towards University Entrance. Having completed his BA in English and Music, he then completed his Master of Arts in English Literature under scholarship at University of Auckland. Outside of MATES, Andrew has worked as a Music tutor, as an English language tutor of students working towards their IELTS certificate.
MATES Mentor 2013-2017
MATES Junior Coordinator
Connor first joined the MATES team in 2015 as a mentor for MATES Nr, helping youth in their transition between intermediate and high school Connor is currently completing his Masters of Counselling at the University of Auckland. His passion is helping others and make a positive impact in their lives. In the future, he aspires to be a Psychologist and to help at risk youth.
MATES Mentor 2013-2017
MATES Senior Coordinator
A 23 year old of Samoan descent, Sonya completed her Bachelor of Arts studying Sociology and Ethnomusicology at the University of Auckland 2015. Sonya hopes to develop programmes for at risk youth to assist them to realise their potential.
MATES Mentor 2014-2015
MATES Coordinator 2017-present