Our Team

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. 


Great potentials office team


Dame Lesley Max

DMNZ MBE, MA(Hons) – Co-Founder and Trustee

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.

Email: lesley.max@greatpotentials.org.nz


Jacki Richardson

BA, MPhil (Hons), FNZIM, CMInstD - CEO

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 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. 

                                       Email: jacki.richardson@greatpotentials.org.nz



John Patolo  

BA Cert ConRes Cert TT PGCert R&A MA(Hons) - Research and Evaluation Manager

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.

Email: john.patolo@greatpotentials.org.nz


Leonie Duthie

 Office Administrator/PA

Leonie Duthie has joined Great Potentials recently as the Office Administrator. Prior to joining Great Potentials, Leonie has been self-employed for 23 years providing services specialising in secretarial accounts, payroll and book-keeping. She has been employed by Great Potentials for 13 years for accounts and payroll services. Leonie is delighted to be assisting in the work of Great Potentials and the Foundation’s programmes in a new capacity. Her prime responsibility is the smooth running of Great Potentials’ National Office and to offer any assistance to HIPPY sites, the Papakura and Takanini Family Service Centres and MATES schools as required.

Email: leonie.duthie@greatpotentials.org.nz

Family Service centre team


Louise Belcher

Dip Family Therapy and Counselling, Post Graduate Diploma in Social Services and Supervision, Certificate in Industrial Relations, Accredited Mediator - Manager, Papakura Family Service Centre and Takanini Family Service Centre

Louise brings an unusual combination of skills and experience to the position of Manager, Family Service Centre. After many years in Human Resources management, she gained a counselling qualification and worked with families with special needs. She has considerable experience in parenting education, including the delivery of courses for the Cool Schools and Healthy Families programmes. She provides mediation programmes for parents and has created an innovative approach to assisting families to flourish – Family Matters.

Email: manager@familyservicecentres.org.nz

Kyla Scott

Administrator, Takanini Family Service Centre

Email: kylas@familyservicecentres.org.nz   info@familyservicecentres.org.nz

Shona Paul

Administator, Papakura Family Service Centre

Email:  admins@familyservicecentres.org.nz





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Mark Veale

MBA – 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.

Email: mark.veale@greatpotentials.org.nz

Karen Loughnan

A.C.A.T, BA(Education & Sociology), B.F.F.L, ESOL(Trinity) – HIPPY National Advisor: Development

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 HIPPY NZ Manager of Adult Education, Karen is responsible for working to develop NZQA opportunities for HIPPY coordinators and tutors, providing support as they work toward qualifications.She is also responsible for organising regional training in February for HIPPY coordinators.


Yvette Sievers

BA – 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.

Email: yvette.sievers@greatpotentials.org.nz


Smita Dahya

BHSc –  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 will be 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

Email : smita.dahya@greatpotentials.org.nz





Mates team


Shana Malio-Satele

BA, LLB, MA (Hons), MLitt -  National Director, MATES 

Shana has previously been a mentor for MATES from 2002-2004 and a mentor coordinator for MATES from 2005-2008. Shana initially registered as a solicitor and barrister in 2009 and spent some time working in Pacific health, specifically project development and management. 
Shana completed her degrees in Arts, Law and two Masters Degrees in Anthropology and Pacific Literature at the University of Auckland in 2007. As MATES National Director, Shana is responsible for overseeing the strategic leadership of MATES in Auckland and providing project development and contract management for the delivery of MATES in Waikato. 

Email: shana.malio@greatpotentials.org.nz

Andrew Dawson

BA (Hons), MA (Hons) - MATES Regional Manager, Auckland

Andrew has been a Mentor with the MATES programme since 2013, helping students to achieve their academic and personal goals. 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 is presently studying towards his Master of Arts in English Literature under scholarship at the University of Auckland. Outside of MATES, Andrew has worked as a Music tutor, and as an English language tutor of students working towards their IELTS certificate. Andrew is deeply passionate about education, and, following his studies, intends to continue working in the education sector. 

                                    Email: andrew.dawson@greatpotentials.org.nz


Connor Bourne 

MATES Coordinator

Connor first joined the MATES team in 2015 as a mentor for MATES Jr, helping youth in their transition between intermediate and high school. Originally from England, he is proud to call Aotearoa home. He is currently in his final year at the University of Auckland completing a BSc majoring in psychology. His passion is helping others and making a positive impact in their lives. In the future, he aspires to be a Psychologist and to help at risk youth. As the youngest member of the MATES team, Connor is excited for the challenges ahead and the opportunity to make a difference. Connor is the MATES Junior Coordinator for 2019.

Sonya Masoe 

BA - MATES Coordinator 

Sonya is a MATES mentor from 2014 and has returned this year in the role of MATES Senior Coordinator. She is 23 years old and is of Samoan descent. Sonya completed her Bachelor of Arts studying Sociology and Ethnomusicology at the University of Auckland 2015. She is deeply passionate about helping those who are most vulnerable in society, young people and the homeless. Sonya is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Property. She hopes to work in the housing sector to help find solutions to the decreasing levels of housing affordability in New Zealand and to be a voice for the marginalised people who struggle with access to appropriate housing. Sonya has also been involved       with a range of youth programmes and hopes to develop more programmes for at risk youth to help educate and nurture them into realising and achieving their potential. Sonya is one of the MATES Senior Coordinators for Auckland in 2019.