Meet our team

Our SOLGM team is made up of some pretty amazing people with great skills, keen to help promote innovation and excellence in local government management enabling local government to better serve their local communities.

Karen Thomas

    Chief Executive, SOLGM

Karen has been our Chief Executive 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, AFS Intercultural Programmes where she was the Deputy Chair and she chaired Capital Swim Club Board for four years. She is a Swimming NZ qualified referee, and her other interests include reading and genealogy research.

Claire Shakespeare

    Executive Assistant to the CE

Claire is an experienced executive assistant and administrator with a background in local and central government. More recently she has also been a cycle skills instructor and sports administrator.

Claire’s role is to provide Karen Thomas with executive and governance assistance, administer the Society’s membership process and provide event support. Claire holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Diploma of Teaching (Primary).

Outside of work, Claire’s focus is largely on raising her two teenage children but she also enjoys classical music and playing tennis.

Kate Macnaught

    Manager, Sector Improvement, SOLGM

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 the 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.

Raymond Horan

    Chief Advisor, SOLGM

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.

Helen Ballantyne

    Manager, Business Services

Helen has been our Manager, Business Services since July 2017. She has held several 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. Her role is to lead and manage the delivery of our business services including the finance, membership, marketing and communications and information communication technology functions.

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

Rebecca Moore

    Accountant

Bex joined the team in September 2017 as our 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.

Bex has a passion for facts and figures and enjoys to providing seamless financial support to the SOLGM team.

Jane Wilson

    Instructional Designer, SOLGM

Jane is our Instructional Designer. Her background is in learning and development where she has held a number of roles in the government sector, including time as a self-employed contractor. Jane 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 Delilah and Gypsy.

Amy Waugh

    Senior Advisor, Membership and Communications

Amy joined SOLGM in July 2018 having recently returned to her hometown after spending the last decade working in marketing roles around New Zealand and a four year stint in Melbourne.

Her experience spans time working across a wide range of industries in both private and public sectors. Amy enjoys working in the ever-changing field of marketing and is enjoying transforming SOLGM’s marketing and communications to be more digitally-focused.

Outside of work Amy loves spending time with friends and family, travelling, going for walks and getting brunch at her favourite café - a good latte is a must!

Leeanne Templer

    Senior Adviser, 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 our 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

Mubashir Mukhtar

    Data Scientist

Mubashir joined SOLGM in September 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 about data science, and doing community work.

Jenny Spencer

    Acting Manager, Workforce Leadership

Jenny is excited to join the team at SOLGM having previously worked in local government at Masterton District Council.

Her background is in Human Resources, with experience in central and local government as well as the private sector. More recently Jenny has shared her skills as a volunteer with Volunteer Service Abroad in Papua New Guinea and Tonga, an experience that has inspired her to want to continue to make a difference in local communities. Jenny is passionate about leadership and it’s importance for building strong organisations that have people at their heart.

Outside of work Jenny loves walking and getting out and about with her husband in the Wellington area, as well as sharing the company of good friends.

Ann Thomson

    Manager, Communications and Partnerships

Ann oversees SOLGM's communications, marketing and partnership activities, as well as our major events, the 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.

In her spare time Ann enjoys spending time with family and friends, good food, films, music, travel and reading.

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.

Eilidh Siller

    Advisor, Workforce Leadership

Eilidh joined SOLGM in March 2019 as part of the Professional Development Team. Originally from Scotland, Eilidh came to Wellington to get back to reality and into the world of work after having spent 5 months travelling South East Asia.

Previously Eilidh worked in the travel industry in a marketing role which enabled her to gain experience in brand management, developing strategies and building strong relationships with people from all over the world. She is looking forward to her new role at SOLGM and the learning experience that comes along with it!

Eilidh enjoys eating out at restaurants on weekends, live music and is a qualified gymnastics coach.

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.

Chelsey Reid

    Advisor, Sector Improvement

Chelsey joined SOLGM in August 2019 and brings a wealth of experience in the development and not-for-profit sectors.

Originally from Canada and having lived in East and South Asia, she now calls Wellington home. Chelsey recently completed her Masters in Development Studies from Victoria University of Wellington, focusing on participatory practice and human development. She is passionate about connecting people with the policies that affect them and particularly enjoys working in the well-being space.

Outside of work Chelsey loves going on adventures in the outdoors, rock climbing, having dinner with friends, and watching films.