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 trustees 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 in business across Rural and Corporate banking, manufacturing, wholesale and retail SME’s. He has also held governance roles across these sectors both as a shareholding director and an independent director.
His most recent corporate role was as General Manager Rural Banking for ASB.
Mark spent 2017/18 working with a medium sized, family owned, manufacturing business in order to facilitate an exit strategy for the current generation of shareholders. This process was completed over a 13 month period with a successful sale to a Private Equity firm.
Mark currently holds a number of governance roles within the rural sector including Advisory Board Chair of a large scale dairy, beef and poultry farming business based in the Waikato, Chair of the ASB MAGS Farm Advisory Group and Trustee for Dairy Women’s Network.
Mark holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science Degree from Massey University, is a graduate of the EY University of Virginia Darden School of Business Executive Programme and the Excelerator Leadership Programme run by the NZ Leadership Institute. He has also completed the “Discover Excellence” programme through the Shingo Institute which drives his enthusiasm for Process Improvement.”
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 BrownTracy has been leading environmental change for dairy through her roles as Chair of the DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leaders Programme, Chair of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards Alumni, and as farmer representative on the Dairy Environment Leadership Group (DELG) which oversees the Water Accord.
She has been involved with setting the future direction for dairy as a farmer rep on the Dairy Industry Strategy Refresh Working Group. Tracy is a Dairy Women’s Network Trustee, a St Pauls Collegiate School Trustee and Chair of the Matamata Intermediate Board of Trustees.
Tracy, originally from Northland (Te Rarawa, Ngai tupoto) she married to Wynn. She lives near Matamata on their 700 cow, 310ha (240ha milking platform) system 3 farm ‘Tiroroa’ (extensive view or view to the future) which won the Waikato Ballance Farm Environment Supreme Award in 2010. An Agri-Women’s Development Trust ‘Escalator’ Alumni, she has been a finalist in the Sustainable Business Network Awards and the Westpac Women of Influence Awards.
Tracy was an Economist at the NZ Meat and Wool Boards Economic Service (now Beef + Lamb New Zealand) prior to entering the dairy industry. Tracy has a BAgrSci (Hons) from Massey University, is a Kelloggs Rural Scholar (Lincoln University) and has a postgraduate Diploma in Management Studies (Waikato University). Tracy’s strengths are in strategy, collaboration and connectedness and is a member of the Institute of Directors. Tracy has four children age 12 to 17yrs enjoys mountain biking, walking and anything to do with the sea!
Regional Leader Representative: Rachel Haskew
It is an honour and a privilege to represent my ‘tribe’ of Regional Leaders as we stand tall together. I have been a Regional Leader for 6 years and I’ve found where I belong in our industry. I am a professional with a background in Science and Business and for 15 years worked in on public and private sector projects including large infrastructure developments in the UK and NZ. Dairy farming is my livelihood as my husband and I milk 700 cows on 300 hectares south of Rotorua. We have two children, our son Taylor is 6 and daughter Eden is 20 months. Until recently I worked with DairyNZ’s DairyBase team, managing special projects focusing on farmer liaison and engagement. I’m currently President of Rerewhakaaitu Playcentre and involved in Lake Rerewhakaaitu School PTA.
I’m incredibly passionate about Dairy Women’s Network and the role of a Regional Leader is central to that. I am also grateful for the learning and development opportunities the Network has offered me as an individual. Today’s agri-businesses are significant in scale and complexity and as dairy women we are leading and managing in an environment of constant, fast-paced change. As Region Leaders we need the ongoing leadership, knowledge and support to ensure we continue to adapt, thrive and support others in this demanding environment. The Regional Leader Representative gives me the opportunity to grow and give back to my fellow Leaders and I am enjoying this.
Over the past three years I have been involved in bringing together a fantastic team of Rotorua leaders, all on their own individual leadership journeys. I love that Dairy Women’s Network is inclusive and focused on providing the diversity of opportunities to meet the needs of women at any stage of their journey. More recently the desire to build authentic connection with like-minded dairy women has refocused my passion and led me to initiate a Dairy Women’s Network Business Group Pilot – DWN 501, in collaboration with our Rotorua team and Board Trustees – we are making it happen!
I’m proud to be a NZ dairy farmer feeding the world and proud to be a woman in dairy. Dairy Women’s Network are an amazing group of inspiring women – 1 of a kind – and it is an honour and privilege to represent the Regional Leader voice around the Trust Board table.