Changes to the DWN Board of Trustees marks a new chapter

At the Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) Annual General Meeting in October, two Board Trustees, Donna Smit and Mark Heer, will step down as they end their time on the Board after almost ten years.  

Trish Rankin, DWN Board Chair, said “Mark and Donna have been invaluable on our Board. Their multiple-terms (three-years per term) as Trustees have added significant value, insights and thinking to make sure we keep on track and deliver for our members.

“We’ve just celebrated 25-years of DWN excellence, and we are poised for even greater impact and growth. Mark and Donna have been an important factor in helping us take the next step”.

Trish reflects that DWN will miss having them around the Board table as a dynamic duo.

“They may approach ideas like chalk and cheese but are fantastic to watch together as they work through how we achieve our purpose and manage our finances and operate as a not-for-profit”.

“They have a special balance of personal knowledge and unique abilities that cannot be replicated. Mark is always thinking with an organisational heart and about our people and Donna is amazing at making sure the numbers work, which together with the other Trustees have enabled the organisation to be hugely successful”, said Trish.

Mark Heer has 30 years’ experience in business across Rural and Corporate banking, manufacturing, wholesale and retail SMEs. He has also held governance roles across these sectors both as a shareholding director and an independent director.

He reflects that his motivation to initially join the DWN board was to role model to his work colleagues and daughters that championing diversity and being prepared to step forward into the unknown is a worthwhile endeavour and not one to walk away from.

“The opportunity to give back to the dairy industry through an industry good, not for profit organisation, was also a key factor. I have learnt through my life that the only important thing is what you do, actions rather than words are heard the loudest.  My nine years have been full of learning and gaining new perspective and insights and it’s been a privilege and honour to serve on the Board”, said Mark.

Donna Smit has significant experience as a Chartered Accountant as well as having, with husband Corrie, built up a successful family farming business, owning seven farms in Edgecumbe and Oamaru, and investments in kiwifruit. 

Donna believes that there is a lot of talent behind the farm gate and DWN is instrumental in making sure New Zealand dairy farmers succeed.

“DWN run professional workshops, conferences and webinars for all at the lowest cost with the greatest reach and this is something I respect immensely”, said Donna.

Applications for DWN Trustee position(s) have opened and DWN are looking for people passionate about championing diversity, empowering individuals, and shaping the future of the dairy industry to join our Board of Trustees.

Trish says “We welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds and experiences and encourage anyone with passion for our mission to apply – regardless of gender. You don’t have to be an experienced governance professional or even be a dairy professional – we want your unique skills and your connection to the rural sector”.

“We are particularly interested in candidates who have experience as an audit and risk Chair, or have an entrepreneurial spirit and some business and financial acumen. Above all, we’re looking for individuals who are committed to our mission of supporting and empowering women in the dairy industry. We are taking applications now as we could appoint before October”, says Trish.

Both Mark and Donna’s advice to someone considering applying to the Board is ‘do it’.

“Take the opportunity to gain learnings, perspective and insights through an action-orientated organisation. DWN lives actions over words every day and this will be the secret to DWN’s ongoing success. As a non-political, action and outcome focused organisation, DWN is increasingly seen as the industry connector to bring people and ideas together to make things happen”, said Mark.

Donna adds that, “it’s a great place to develop your governance skills, the culture is awesome, and you will be energised. Today’s dairy farmers are skilled in multiple disciplines and who cope with change at a rapid pace DWN helps connect, build and celebrate our industry’s professionalism, and what’s exciting is its being noticed by other industries and other countries who want to emulate what we have”.

Trish adds, “whether you are a seasoned professional or a rising star, if you are passionate about making a difference, a strong connector, are energised by seeing people grow and develop, while creating influence and empowering relationships, we want you on our team”.

Applications are now open on Appoint, or find out more about the positions here.


Photo: Supplied by DWN; Donna Smit and Mark Heer.

For more information contact: 
Sarah van Munster
Insights and Media Manager
Phone: 07 974 4852

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