Karen 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 25 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. Her vision of a sustainable flourishing Dairy Industry that is there for future generations has never wavered and is keenly supported by two key drivers, her love of family and “connection”.
Karen will tell you she is results orientated. Her ‘hands-on’ farming involvement has developed a committed, self-motivated work ethic, which she uses at every opportunity to support the collective commitment that is required now more than ever to see us endure through these rapidly changing and challenging times as food producers.
On reflection Karen sees Dairy Women’s Network as having been a catalyst to the development of herself. Conference committee involvement in 2005 and 2012 then becoming Conference Chair in 2014 gave rise to the courage to apply to the AWDT Escalator Program, success in that endeavour has aided in becoming Chair of Vetora BoP and the privilege of being part of the present Dairy Women’s Network Trust Board team.
The personal growth afforded her has cemented a desire to encourage others to look beyond their perceived limits and to support them in whatever their personal journey is. With a ethos of life is not a dress rehearsal she dares all of us to seize the moment to be the best possible us we can and in so doing knows we will deliver a Dairy platform that will endure and stand tall as part of NZ’s future.
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.
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 circa 1.4m 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 Ltd, EastPack Ltd and Fonterra Co-operative Group.
Mark 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 holds a number of governance roles including Board and Advisory Board Chair roles across Dairy, Beef, Poultry, Kiwifruit and Avocado farming enterprises and Real Estate. Mark is also 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.
Pamela brings to the role of Dairy Women’s Network Trustee a solid background in executive and governance experience across a variety of industries, from health care to environmental to primary sector 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 from Washington State University. 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.
Pamela spent many years working in energy, renewable generation, energy efficiency and environmental organisations. As she 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 Dairy Women’s Network’s focus on offering continuing development opportunities to its members through its learning modules, regional events, and annual conference.
Over the years, Pamela has gained significant governance experience across a variety of organisations from local to international, holding several key roles from Executive to Director to Board Chair in many organisations, including the Access HomeHealth, Go Eco, the Council for Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership and most recently Primary ITO. Pamela has led many organisations through significant change, growth and transformation with substantial results.
As a member of the Dairy Environmental Leaders Forum and Chair of the Rabobank Upper North Island Client Council, Pamela has supported a variety of initiatives that promote opportunities in the primary sector, such as the Rabobank Agri-Leadership Program. Her contributions were recognised when she was named a finalist in the 2017 New Zealand Women of Influence Awards.
Pamela and her husband, Ian Storey, own and operate a 480 cow dairy farm in Te Hoe in the North Waikato, with Pamela playing a significant role in the strategic management of their operation, alongside her various governance roles. They have a particular focus on breeding high BW animals and developing an adaptive approach to farming systems.
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.”
From strong rural roots growing up on a sheep and beef farm in Rangitaiki, New Zealand, Sophie has always had a strong passion for agriculture and food production. She graduated from Massey University with a Bachelor of Science (Agricultural Science) and Bachelor of Business Studies (Economics) and went on to spend five years working as an Agri Manager for ANZ Bank with dairy farmers in Morrinsville.
In 2013, Sophie won the Nuffield Scholarship researching the impact of social media in agriculture, and was one of the youngest scholars at the time to ever be awarded it. Upon returning from a year of travels, she joined Figured as the first employee to build the vision for a cloud based agri accounting software, and spent four years helping growing the company, including moving to Omaha, Nebraska to launch and grow the US business as Vice President.
After several years of cold winters, and missing the beach and mountains, Sophie has recently returned from the US, and currently working on building app partner programmes for the global ecosystem at Xero.
She is an avid reader, podcast listener, and traveller who loves learning about food systems, politics, economics and climate change. She currently spends a lot of her spare time trail running, having completed her first 50km ultramarathon in February 2019, and training for her next 50km ultramarathon in Taupo in October.
Abbi lives every moment, laughs every day and loves beyond words, so it’s easy to see why her favourite quote is ‘Live ever moment, laugh every day, love beyond words.’
As the Dairy Women’s Network Regional Leaders Trust Board Representative, Abbi gets to attend board meetings to not only represent her leadership peers, but gain valuable governance experience and insights.
The board role is a chance to give back to the organisation that started her leadership journey, and Abbi is proud that Regional Leaders believed she was a great candidate to listen to them and represent them at the board table.
She says the Dairy Women’s Network has helped her to grow as a person and she loves watching other women grow and evolve. She enjoys her role as a Regional Leader where she organises social interactions to get members off farm, committed to having them leave an event feeling great, well supported and that they are not alone.
In her spare time Abbi enjoys catching up with old friends, meeting new people and hanging out with her horse or dog. She makes sure she enjoys the fresh air and takes a moment to pause and be grateful for the life she leads that she shares in Ashburton with her husband Frikkie, two dogs and a cat called Cat.