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

  • Marion Martin

    Marion Martin

    Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive

    Marion is new to both SOLGM and New Zealand having arrived from South Africa two years ago. Whilst in South Africa Marion founded Communications Scenarios which she ran for 13 years. The company offered Computer Training as well as SAP Consulting.

    Marion has a daughter in Wellington and another in Australia as well as a son currently studying in Oxford, UK.

    In her spare time Marion enjoys spending time with family and exploring both North and South Islands.

    Email Marion Martin

    ddi 04 978 1280

  • Helen Ballantyne

    Helen Ballantyne

    Manager, Business Support

    Helen joined SOLGM in July 2017 into the newly created Manager, Business Support role and has previously held a number of senior corporate service management roles mostly in the Not For Profit sector.

    Helen believes that the business support team has a pivotal role to play in ensuring SOLGM’s success and her role is to lead and manage the delivery of SOLGM’s business support services including the finance, membership, marketing and communication and information communication technology functions.

    In her spare time Helen enjoys exploring her downtown neighbourhood’s many cafés and restaurants.

    Email Helen Ballantyne

    ddi 04 978 1288

  • 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

  • Fiona Purchas

    Fiona Purchas

    Manager, Professional Development

    Fiona Purchas joined SOLGM in September 2017 as Manager, Professional Development. Fiona’s brings a broad range of skills from the fields of learning and development, career transition and coaching, strategic planning, and facilitation to the role. Her background as a trainer on leadership courses, and as a leader in a range of not for profit and membership organisations over the last 20 years, contributes to SOLGM’s goal’s of leading, learning and linking.

    Fiona has worked with range of local and central government clients, as an Associate with a corporate training provider, and is looking forward to expanding her local government sector knowledge and applying her skills to benefit SOLGM members and the wider community whom they serve.

    Fiona enjoys mountain biking and skiing with her husband Chris, identical twin sons, and daughter. On fine days she can normally be found in her Miramar garden plotting how to beat the Wellington wind!

    Email Fiona Purchas

    ddi 04 978 1272

  • Richard Mabon

    Richard Mabon

    Principal Advisor, Sector Improvement

    Richard joined SOLGM in December 2016. He loves his role assembling and sharing good and relevant practice so that people in local government have easier, more effective working lives. He is focussed on the SOLGM legal compliance modules, electoral readiness resources, and supporting G-REG the Government Regulatory Practice Initiative, He also has a hand in delivering some SOLGM events and policy projects.

    Richard is studying part-time towards a Masters in Public Policy. With wife Christine, he has one teenage and two adult children, and believes passionately that Liverpool FC will again be Champions of England in his lifetime.

    Email Richard Mabon

    ddi 04 978 1284

  • Leeanne Templer

    Leeanne Templer

    Senior Advisor, Professional Development

    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

  • Jessica Hill

    Jessica Hill

    Senior Advisor, Membership & Communications

    Jessica joined SOLGM in 2017. She oversees all communications with members and potential members.

    Jessica has over 10 years of experience in marketing and communications. Her career focus has been finding interesting problems to solve in the private and public sectors. She previously worked for another membership organisation – the Institute of Directors in New Zealand. Jessica has a master’s degree in marketing and a bachelor’s degree in public relations.

    Email Jessica Hill

    ddi 04 978 1289

  • Chris Wilson

    Chris Wilson

    Senior Advisor, Sector Improvement

    Chris joined SOLGM in April 2017 as a Senior Advisor, Sector Improvement. Chris joined SOLGM after thirteen years in the core public sector. He is looking forward to taking his public sector experience and applying this to local government.

    Chris holds a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, a Diploma for Graduates in Philosophy and Master of Health Sciences endorsed in Bioethics with Credit from the University of Otago.

    Outside of work Chris enjoys attending films, going to gigs and walking.

    Email Chris Wilson

    ddi 04 978 1286

  • Jane Wilson

    Jane Wilson

    Instructional Designer

    Jane has recently joined SOLGM in a newly created role of ‘Instructional Designer’.

    Jane’s background is in learning and development where she has held a number of roles in the government sector, and for the past 4.5 years she has worked as a self-employed contractor. She is passionate about instructional design, particularly in the digital e-learning space, and enjoys exploring new concepts and ways of doing things to engage learners.

    In her spare time Jane is busy providing a taxi service for her two teenagers! She also enjoys interior design and walking her two dogs Frankie and Delilah.

    Email Jane Wilson

    ddi 04 978 1270

  • Rebecca Moore

    Rebecca Moore


    Rebecca, or Bex as she likes to be called, joined SOLGM in September 2017 in the role of Accountant, and brings with her over 12 years of experience working in similar Financial and Administrative roles.

    Her background is in the implementation of financial accounting systems, the development of business processes, and establishing quality business analytics and monthly reporting.

    With a passion for facts and figures, she looks forward to providing seamless financial support to SOLGM as part of the Business Support team

    Email Rebecca Moore

    ddi 04 978 1287

  • 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

  • Tamsen  Welsh

    Tamsen Welsh

    Administrator, Membership & Communications

    Tamsen’s role is to provide administrative support across the company in areas such as accounting, membership, sponsorship, communications, marketing, IT administration and customer service.

    Tamsen has lived in Wellington City for 6 years and loves the creative culture that it offers, she also enjoys being outdoors in Wellingtons beautiful natural surroundings.

    Email Tamsen Welsh

    ddi 04 978 1271