Dairy Women’s Network was established in 1998 as a charitable trust (CC35685) connecting women with vibrant dairy communities across New Zealand.
Meet our Trust Board
Our voluntary board of directors provides advice and strategy. Each person is selected on the basis of their skills and expertise, and their interest and empathy for the dairy industry, in particular the role of women.
Chair: Cathy BrownCathy lives on an avocado orchard in Tauranga, along with husband Peter and their two children, they have a dairy farm in Galatea and a kiwifruit orchard in Te Puke.
Cathy is a life long learner whose curiosity has taken her outside the farm gate. She worked as a CRV field consultant for 20 years helping farmers with their herd improvement requirements.
Cathy’s willingness to learn has seen her step into different areas in the Rural sector.
She has previously been a member of the National Advisory Board for Rural Broadband Initiative. Currently she is a member of the Rural Health Alliance Council. She is involved in her local community with the BOP Regional Council Fresh Water Futures Community Group. Cathy has also taken on a governance role for Tauranga Budget Advisory Service.
Cathy’s values are based around “Family, Farm and Community”. DWN has played a pivotal role in my personal and professional development, therefore I am keen to support others to gain the same experience.
Trustee: Alison Gibb
Alison and her husband Russell own an 84ha farm in Orini, Waikato, which they purchased in 1984. For the most part Alison taught Mathematics at Hamilton’s Fraser High School and raised their three children Benjamin, Natalie and Georgina.
In 2000 she decided a new challenge was required and went back to Massey University as an extramural student to do an agricultural degree. In the meantime Natalie went as an internal student and they both graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in 2011.
In 2008 she resigned from teaching to become more involved in their business particularly at the strategic and directional level; at the practical level she is the relief milker and helps Russell with the calf rearing. Her active involvement with the Lower Waikato Jersey Cattle Club lead her to taking on the role as Youth Coordinator for Jersey NZ and she regularly writes about its young members in the Jersey Review. In 2014 she formed a Youth Council for Jersey NZ to provide a training ground in Governance for young people and in 2016 was appointed President of Jersey NZ.
During the years she attended all of the DWN conferences except for two and was on the organising committee for the 2002 conference held in Hamilton where she assisted with the sourcing of sponsorship. Appreciating the value of DWN, Alison saw a need for a regional group to be set up in the Taupiri/Orini area and she established the North Waikato Regional Group in 2012 and was the inaugural convenor.
Alison was appointed as a trustee in 2013 and brings a wealth of experience in governance having spent ten years on the Orini Combined School Board of Trustees, seven years on Opera Waikato’s Board and ten years on Arts Waikato Trust, seven of them as chair.
Her interests include theatre, patchwork and quilting, gardening and showing their Jersey cattle.
Trustee: Donna Smit
Donna Smit comes from a rural background in the Bay of Plenty, where she lives with her husband Corrie on their dairy farm and they have 4 adult children.
Donna studied to become a Chartered Accountant while working at a local accounting practice in Whakatane. Upon qualifying Donna accepted a position as Company Administrator for EastPack, a position she held for 24 years.
While working at EastPack, Corrie and Donna built up a successful family farming business now owning seven farms in Edgecumbe and Oamaru, producing close to 1.5m kgms. Together, they also have investments in kiwifruit.
With a passion for the dairy industry and wanting to contribute to the dairy sectors succession needs, Donna completed the Fonterra Governance Development Program in 2009-2010.
Donna holds several governance positions; She is a Director of Kiwifruit Equities a company set up to link investor’s capital with high quality kiwifruit orchards and management to deliver quality returns. Director of Corona Farms Ltd.
Director of Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd, a New Zealand farmer-owned co-operative that helps its customers to farm more productively, profitably and sustainably. Director of Fonterra Co-operative Ltd.
Trustee: Karen ForlongKaren is an ardent dairy farmer who with her husband Maurice started at the very grass roots of Dairying in a salaried position, advanced through its many stages and for the last 21 years has farmed in Atiamuri.
This gave her the opportunity to be a ‘stay at home mum’ while growing their agribusiness. A privilege not afforded to all women. It’s given her success, as it has challenged her, however her passion for all things “dairy” and a leadership vision to ensure a sustainably successful Dairy Industry is there for future generations has never wavered and is keenly supported by two key drivers her love of family and “connection”.
Karen is a results orientated strategic thinker, whose “hands-on” farming involvement has developed a committed, self-motivated work ethic, which sees her seize any opportunity to add value whether within their own business or beyond the farm-gate.
Like many she cut her teeth on local farming community committees, Boards of Trustees and PTA’s. Of more recent times she has enjoyed and grown as part of DWN’s conference committee in 2005 & 2012, then as Conference Chair in 2014. She has been a Regional Co-convenor and Convenor Coordinator for the Lower North Island before being appointed as a trustee. She is currently chair of Vetora BoP. In 2014 Karen completed the Agri-womens Development Trust programme “Escalator” and has recently taken a contract role as a Communications Facilitator for their Understanding your Farming Business programme.
Trustee: Mark HeerMark has 30 years’ experience across Rural and Corporate Banking with his current role being General Manager Rural for ASB Bank.
Mark Heer has had an extensive 30 year career in Rural and Corporate banking. He’s held Rural Manager positions from Otago through to Northland as well as leading ASB’s Rural Corporate division. In 2012 he was appointed into the role of ASB Rural’s General Manager leading an experienced team of over 200 people.
Mark is a Massey University graduate, having studied Bachelor of Agricultural Science Degree. Since then he’s also completed the Excelerator Leadership Programme run by the NZ Leadership Institute and the EY Executive Programme through the Darden Business School.
Mark is a member of the NZ Institute of Directors, and currently is an independent director of a Hamilton based SME in the manufacturing industry and a Trustee for Dairy Womens Network.
In between days out of the office in the field with ASB’s many rural customers and his Rural team, Mark finds time to spend with his wife Maria and their 3 adult daughters either at their Auckland city apartment or their more relaxing Waiheke Island home.
Trustee: Pamela StoreyPamela brings to the role of DWN Trustee a solid background in executive and governance experience across a variety of industries, from health care to environmental organisations, as well as a vested interest in the dairy industry. Originally from the United States, Pamela has a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and has spent a number of years working in energy, renewable generation, energy efficiency and environmental organisations. A blind date with a Kiwi dairy farmer saw her immigrate to New Zealand in 1996 and enter the dairy industry, though in more of a support role, as she continued to work in her chosen field.
As Pamela advanced through management roles, she saw the need to augment her understanding of technology with sound basis in business strategy and governance. To this end she pursued an MBA extramurally through Henley Business School at the University of Reading in the UK. She describes herself as a “life-long learner” and sees real alignment with DWN’s focus on offering continuing development opportunities to its members through its Pathways programme, workshops, regional events, and annual conference.
Pamela has significant governance experience across a variety of organisations from local to international, holding a number of key roles from Executive to Director to Board Chair in many organisations, including the Energy Management Association of New Zealand, the Waikato Environment Centre, the Council for Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership and most recently Access HomeHealth Ltd. Pamela has seen many organisations through significant change, growth and transformation with substantial results.
Pamela and her husband, Ian Storey, own and operate a 500 cow dairy farm in Te Hoe in the North Waikato. Since 2008, Pamela has played a significant role in the strategic management of their operation and has relished becoming more involved. They have a particular focus on breeding high BW animals and developing a flexible approach to farming systems, allowing for appropriate response to a changing economic climate.
Pamela says “I am proud to be a dairy farmer. Every day we produce a healthy food product, we create jobs and support our communities, we are caretakers of the land we occupy and the animals we look after. I take great pride in the work we do and believe in our industry. While it’s not always easy, particularly in these current challenging times, we stay focused on managing the day to day while keeping an eye on the bigger picture.”
Trustee: Tracy BrownBorn in Northland, Tracy is now dairy farming near Matamata with her husband Wynn and their four children (age 11 to 16 years) where they milk 700 cows on their property named Tiroroa meaning “extensive view” or “view to the future”.
Tracys experience as an Economist in the sheep and beef industry prior to marrying a dairy farmer and launching herself into life in a rural community, means she has a diverse skill set and is both analytical and strategic. She sees strengths and potential in others and enjoys roles where she can connect and facilitate development of people and networks. Like most rural women she juggles a farming business and busy family life with community involvement and contributing to industry good.
In 2015 Tracy completed the 10 month Leadership and Governance programme ‘Escalator’ funded by the Agri-Womens Development Trust. Chair of the ‘DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders Forum’, Tracy was previously the Programme Manager for three years. She is Chair of the Matamata Intermediate School Board of Trustees, has had leadership experience with various community groups, sports coaching and also participated in the Kelloggs Rural Leadership Programme in 1997.
Tracy and Wynn were 2010 Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Award Winners, she was the awards Regional Coordinator for three years following this and has been on the organising committee for the Farm Environment Awards Alumni Conference for the last two years.
Tracy has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons) Massey University and Post Graduate Diploma in Management Studies (Waikato University). Tracy has held positions for the NZ Meat & Wool Boards Economic Service (now part of Beef + Lamb New Zealand), AgricultureITO (now PrimaryITO), ASB Bank Ltd and the NZ Farm Environment Trust. In her spare time Tracy loves mountain biking, walking anything to do with the sea, cooking, being creative and of course spending time with family and friends!
Regional Leader Representative: Katrina Thomas