Meet Our Team

  • Karen Thomas

    Karen Thomas

    Chief Executive

    Karen has been Chief Executive at SOLGM since September 2011 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 is a Chartered Member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors. She has been on several boards including Refugee Trauma Recovery and AFS Intercultural Programmes where she was the Deputy Chair. She now chairs the Capital Swim Club Board and is a swimming NZ qualified referee. Her other interest include reading and genealogy research.

    Email Karen Thomas

    ddi 04 978 1282

  • Tori Burleigh

    Tori Burleigh

    Executive Assistant to Chief Executive

    Tori is Karen’s Executive Assistant and provides support to our wider team.

    Originally from Te Horo on the Kapiti Coast, she has experience in regulatory and council environments. Finding her fit as an assistant complements her love of organisation and administration in her work and personal life.

    In her spare time Tori enjoys getting out in the fresh air, spending time with friends and walking the dog.

    Email Tori Burleigh

    ddi 04 978 1280

  • Helen Ballantyne

    Helen Ballantyne

    Manager, Business Services

    Helen joined SOLGM in July 2017 into the newly created Manager, Business Services 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 services 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 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

    Chief Advisor

    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 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

  • Dr Pim Borren

    Dr Pim Borren

    Principal Economist

    Pim has recently joined SOLGM as an economist (part time) after previously serving on the executive board for three years and as a vice president for one.

    Previously Pim was Chief Executive at Masterton District Council for four years in his first role in local government.He has had two previous CE roles in the public sector (institutes of technology) and worked as an economist for almost 20 years prior to that.He has a passion for economics and education and with his more recent experience in local government fits SOLGM range of offerings very well.

    Pim is a member of the Institute of Directors and has served on several commercial and non-commercial boards.He has a PhD in economics.

    Apart from always ensuring that work is fun, Pim plays golf, reads, and spends time with family in his spare time.

    Email Dr Pim Borren

  • 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

  • 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 Services team

    Email Rebecca Moore

    ddi 04 978 1287

  • Samantha Chilcott

    Samantha Chilcott

    Advisor, Professional Development

    Originally from Auckland, Sam has relocated to Wellington and started with SOLGM as the Professional Development Advisor. Sam’s role is to provide support and assist in the delivery of SOLGM’s Professional Development programmes, eLearning programmes, on-line services, Leadership Pathways events and webinars.

    In Sam's spare time, she enjoys yoga, reading and taking her dog on long walks.

    Email Samantha Chilcott

    ddi 04 978 1273

  • Tamsen  Welsh

    Tamsen Welsh

    Advisor, Design & Communications

    Tamsen is a graphic designer who studied Visual Communication and Digital Design. She enjoys conceptualising and designing creative solutions for a variety of mediums.

    Tamsen's role in the Marketing and Communications team is to develop and create marketing collateral through SOLGM's various communication channels.

    She loves the relaxed, creative vibe Wellington city offers and enjoys being outdoors in the beautiful natural surroundings.

    Email Tamsen Welsh

    ddi 04 978 1271

  • Ann Thomson

    Ann Thomson

    Contractor - Senior Advisor, Communications & Events

    Ann is contracted to SOLGM on a part-time basis to manage our Annual Summit and Gala Dinner & The Marketplace.

    Ann is a communications, event management and stakeholder engagement professional with broad experience across sectors including tertiary education and the public sector. She is now enjoying learning more about the local government sector and how membership organisations work.

    Email Ann Thomson

  • Kate Macnaught

    Kate Macnaught

    Manager, Sector Improvement

    Kate is our Manager, Sector Improvement. Kate is responsible for developing the Well-beings Indicator Project and overseeing the Vote 2019 project as well as other developments in Sector Improvement area for SOLGM.

    Kate’s previous roles have included Policy Manager at LGNZ where she worked on Better Local Government Reforms, the Productivity Review on Regulation, as well as other policy areas. Prior to that she was Strategy and Policy Manager at New Plymouth District Council.

    Kate came to New Zealand fourteen years ago where she was Regional Head of Business and Enterprise in the Regional Development Agency for the North East of England and Chief Executive of the Northern Business Forum.

    Kate has been a Director on several Boards in the UK and set up Excellence North East to run the Business Excellence Assessment Programme using the EFQM Excellence Model.

    In her spare time Kate enjoys music, reading and good food.

    Email Kate Macnaught

  • Susan Haniel

    Susan Haniel

    Senior Advisor, Sector Improvement

    Susan is the Senior Advisor for the Sector Improvement team. Her passion is to encourage and promote quality Local Government practices and to see communities flourish.

    Susan has a bachelor’s degree in commerce and administration and has completed resource management law study at Victoria University. Since graduating she has spent six years in committee advisory roles, most recently in Democratic Services at Hutt City Council. Before pursuing her degree, she worked in the health sector as a registered comprehensive nurse and as Team Leader in a coronary care unit.

    Her personal interests include trapping pests with her local “Predator Free” group, playing the guitar and travelling to interesting destinations.

    Email Susan Haniel

  • Mubashir Mukhtar

    Mubashir Mukhtar

    Data Scientist, Sector Improvement

    Mubashir joined SOLGM in Sep 2018 as our Data Scientist. Prior to working at SOLGM, Mubashir was working as a Research & Monitoring Advisor at Ashburton District Council.

    Mubashir’s role at SOLGM is to support the sector improvement team on the data side. Currently, his main focus is on developing local government community wellbeing indicators, along with a comprehensive data warehouse and reporting dashboards to be shared with the sector.

    Outside of work, Mubashir enjoys exploring Wellington with family, learning more on data science, and doing community work.

    Email Mubashir Mukhtar