Meet Our Team

  • Karen Thomas

    Karen Thomas

    Chief Executive

    Karen has been Chief Executive at SOLGM for 5 years and has responsibility for fulfilling SOLGM’s vision to promote and support professional excellence in local government.

    Karen’s previous roles have included Chief Executive at the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and Regional Assistant Commissioner at the State Services Commission where she led the development of the proposal to establish the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG), a world-leading educational institution.

    Karen’s interests include supporting her teenage son in his competitive swimming. With an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” outlook, she qualified as a National Swimming Referee and now chairs the board of her son’s swimming club. She has also been the Deputy Chair of AFS New Zealand and twice served on the Board of Directors for her Rotary Club.

    Email Karen Thomas

    ddi 04 978 1282

  • Saba Howell

    Saba Howell

    Executive Assistant to the CE

    Prior to joining us Saba worked at the Blind Foundation head office in Auckland as National Administration Coordinator, previously working within event coordination at AUT University for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Auckland, and she brings to SOLGM her knowledge of project coordination, office and document management, and a passion for streamlined work processes.

    Outside of work Saba is enjoying exploring Wellington, including it’s best eateries and cinemas, with her husband.

    Email Saba Howell

    ddi 04-978-1280

  • Raymond Horan

    Raymond Horan

    Manager, Sector Improvement

    Raymond re-joined SOLGM in June 2014 taking on a new role, Sector Improvement Manager. He has spent most of the last 20 years in local government related roles, most recently with the Department of Internal Affairs.

    He describes his job as two-thirds, providing assistance to the local government sector and one-third providing advice to central government on local government matters. His ambition is to help develop a Local Government Act that doesn’t require changes every 18 months. He asks that you wish him well with this task.

    Email Raymond Horan

    ddi 04 978 1283

  • Richard Mabon

    Richard Mabon

    Senior Advisor, Sector Improvement

    Richard joined SOLGM in December 2016 as our Senior Advisor, Sector Improvement. His role in the sector improvement team involves contributing to the development of the sector good toolkit, with a focus on the legal compliance modules . He is delighted to have joined the team and looks forward to continuing his thirty-year association with local government, having held a variety of roles in that time with Waitaki District and Rotorua District (as it was then known) Councils.

    Richard is planning to combine his relocation to Wellington with study towards a Masters in Public Policy. He has one teenage and two adult children, and lives in fervent hope that Liverpool FC will again be Champions of England in his lifetime.

    Email Richard Mabon

    ddi 04-978-1284

  • Natalie Stevens

    Natalie Stevens

    Manager, Professional Development

    Natalie is an experienced educator, facilitator and qualified marketing professional and has held a number of senior roles in Marketing both as a practitioner and academic..

    She has a passion for leadership development and executive education and a deeply held belief that learning and development should be practical and engaging while being evidenced based. She is known for creating interactive applied learning sessions that allow participants to experience measurable outcomes in their careers.

    Natalie comes to SOLGM as Learning and Development Manager after a successful tenure as the Director of the MBA programme at Victoria University of Wellington.

    Email Natalie Stevens

    ddi 04 978 1272

  • Leeanne Templer

    Leeanne Templer

    Event Manager

    Leeanne is an experienced training and events programme developer and manager. Most recently she has worked in legal training and communications, although her experience also spans business and human resources.

    Leeanne’s role is to manage the delivery of SOLGM’s events and she is excited about the chance to learn more about local government. Leeanne holds a Diploma in Business in Marketing and Bachelor of Laws and Arts from the University of Auckland, and a Master of Laws from Victoria University of Wellington.

    Leeanne’s interests include travel writing, languages, going to the gym, walking and planning her next adventure

    Email Leeanne Templer

    ddi 04-978-1281

  • Samantha Morris

    Samantha Morris

    Administrator, Professional Development

    Originally from Auckland, Sam has relocated to Wellington and started with SOLGM as the Professional Development Administrator. Recently returning to New Zealand from 3 years spent abroad in London UK and Kelowna Canada, Sam is pursuing her career in events and marketing and looking forward to gaining a further understanding of local government and authorities.

    Sam’s role is to provide support and assist in the delivery of SOLGM’s communications, Professional Development programmes, on-line services, events and webinars.

    Email Samantha Morris

    ddi 04 978 1273

Message from the SOLGM Chief Executive – time for a change

SOLGM has seen pleasing progress over the last three years. We have achieved a high level of consistency with our ‘look and feel’, attracting more members than we have ever had before. Additionally, an increasing number of stakeholders want to support us financially through the sponsorship of our learning and development events making them more financially accessible to the sector. We have also had an increasing level of interest from central government for ‘SOLGM’s perspective’ during the development of new policy and legislation. As a consequence of this progress, SOLGM has reviewed and updated its structure to ensure that we are organised in a manner that will support sustainable growth while we continue to provide high quality products and services to the sector. The new structure increases our workforce by two and refocuses our activities into three areas: Sector Improvement, Professional Development and Business Support. For further information, please click here.