Our people

NZORD is headed by a Chief Executive and assisted by a team of dedicated staff. NZORD is steered by a Board of Trustees.

NZORD staff

Letitia O’Dwyer, Chief Executive letitia.odwyer@nzord.org.nz

Photo of Letitia O’Dwyer

Letitia has over 20 years experience in the health sector – specifically around introducing new health technologies, improving access to pharmaceuticals, initiating imaging and diagnostic trials, and establishing international healthcare networks. She holds a Bachelor of Science, a Post Graduate Diploma in Business and a Masters in Health Management from the University of Auckland. Letitia is dedicated to improving healthcare outcomes in New Zealand via research, and facilitating the connection of decision makers in the healthcare/patient pathway. She lives in central Wellington with her partner Scott, and their blended family of five.

Ben Chapman, Webmaster ben.chapman@nzord.org.nz

Photo of Ben Chapman

Ben has been at NZORD for nearly 10 years, creating websites for support groups and managing NZORD’s online resources. He fits this work around looking after his three school-aged children.

Ben’s background is in science. However, he came to NZORD while studying information design. His qualifications include PhD, Victoria University, and Graduate Diploma in Information Design, Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology.

Lyndal Bremer, Fundraising and Communications Manager lyndal.bremer@nzord.org.nz

Photo of Lyndal Bremer

Lyndal joined NZORD in March 2014. With a Bachelor of Commerce and Management from Lincoln University, Lyndal has many years’ marketing and communications experience having worked on some large New Zealand and international brands such as Lotto, Instant Kiwi, Colgate Palmolive, AXA and Kiwibank. In recent years Lyndal has been part of her children’s school Parentlink team who actively fundraise for the school throughout the year. She has also been part of the fundraising team for two other large fundraising projects. Lyndal lives in Wellington with her husband and three young children.

Anne Merritt, Administration Manager admin@nzord.org.nz

Photo of Anne Merritt Anne Merrit is NZORD’s Administration Manager. Anne brings many years of valuable experience in managing accounts and administration for both large and small businesses. Anne has recently moved back from the UK after 18 years. Anne has been with NZORD since March 2014. She lives in Wellington and has three grown children.

Vikki Ambrose, Relationship manager vikki.ambrose@nzord.org.nz

Vikki Ambrose

Vikki has 25 years’ experience in the health sector, starting out in clinical biochemistry and haematology & transfusion medical laboratories in the UK, including Oxford University Clinical Trials Unit. After moving to NZ in 2000 she worked in research, surveillance and diagnosis of communicable diseases and environmental microbiology for ten years at ESR, resulting in a number of scientific journal publications. After redundancy she trained as a teacher, and more recently has worked as an advisor in health promotion for NZ Defence Force and the Cancer Society. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, a Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching and a Masters in Cell and Molecular Biosciences from Victoria University, Wellington. Vikki has lived on the Kapiti Coast since moving to New Zealand with her three, now grown up children, her husband and three dogs.

NZORD board of trustees

Chris Higgins, Chair

Chris Higgins

Chris is an experienced leader and manager of health, disability and social services organisations. From 2010 to 2012 Chris chaired the disability chief executives forum – a network of over twenty leaders of membership based, advocacy focused, and disability support organisations in New Zealand – to which he remains an active contributor. Chris joined the NZORD board in November 2014.

Bronwyn Gray QSM, JP

Bronwyn Gray
Bronwyn Gray was made a Justice of the Peace for New Zealand in 2000 and in 2004 she was awarded the Queens Service Medal for Services to Community Health and Research. Formerly a Secondary School English teacher in Wellington and Auckland, Bronwyn’s daughter Lisa was diagnosed in 1997 with the rare lung disease Lymphangioleiomyomatosis ( LAM ). As the Director and Founder of the New Zealand LAM Charitable Trust since 1998, she raises funds for scientific investigation into the causes of LAM and works closely with New Zealand, Australian, European and US LAM research teams, in search of a cure for LAM. She supports women in New Zealand who are diagnosed with LAM and works as an educator to raise awareness of LAM in the GP and general community throughout New Zealand. Bronwyn was a founding trustee of NZORD when it was formally incorporated in 2001, she is a member of the US based Worldwide LAM Patient and Family Federation and has produced a number of short video films for GPs and the LAM Patient and Family Community.

Mike Eccles

Photograph of Professor Mike Eccles.

With a background in Biochemistry and Genetics, Dr Mike Eccles has been the NZ Institute for Cancer Research Trust Professor in Cancer Pathology at the University of Otago since 2006. He was a Fogarty International Scholar at Princeton University’s Department of Molecular Biology (1987 – 1989), and a James Cook Research Fellow in the Biochemistry and Pathology Departments at the University of Otago (2000 – 2002). His laboratory, which presently consisting of three Research Fellows, two Research Asssistants, and four post-graduate students, is focused on the genetics and epigenetics of cancer and kidney diseases in childhood. Outside work, his time is mostly occupied with family; his wife works as a General Practitioner, and they have three teen-age children. Mike is a founding trustee of NZORD.

Martin Hanley

Photograph of Martin Hanley.

Martin has an adult son with a rare genetic skin condition, Epidermolysis Bullosa, EB, that causes the skin to blister and tear with the slightest friction. As well as hours every day of bandaging and caring for his son when he was younger, Martin has spent years negotiating the health and education systems on behalf of his son and the EB support group DEBRA NZ. Martin is a partner in Red Design Architects with his wife Anna Kemble Welch, and a part time tutor in design at the School of Architecture. He is also involved in organising the Newtown Festival each year, and assisting the Newtown Resident's Association on urban design and resource management issues and with community liaison while the new Wellington Regional Hospital was being designed and built. Martin is a founding trustee of NZORD.

Stephen Robertson

Stephen Robertson

Stephen has been the Curekids Professor of Paediatric Genetics at Otago University, since 2003. He studied Medicine and specialised in Pediatrics and then subspecialised in Clinical Genetics. From 1999 – 2002 he was Nuffield Medical Fellow at the Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford University, studying the genetic basis of a set of genetic disorders characterised by severe life-limiting malformations in children. His work in this area has led to the implication of several genes, in the generation of malformations in children, with a particular focus on conditions that affect the skeleton and brain. He was awarded the Health Research Council’s Liley Medal for outstanding contributions to medical research in 2010. Stephen continues to be an active clinician, staffing clinics throughout the South Island, in addition to teaching genetics to science and medical students in Dunedin. He joined the board of NZORD in 2013.

Bice Awan

Bice Awan

Bice was the Chief Executive of Skylight a not for profit charitable trust until February 2015. Bice was Skylight’s first staff member when it began in 1998. Skylight was the first organisation in New Zealand to focus specifically on the multifaceted impact that change, loss and grief has on children, young people and their families. Bice focuses her activities in areas where there is a need for a voice to be heard around the challenges that exist within the area. Bice is on the board of The Perinatal Mental Health Trust NZ, she is the Deputy Chair of Wellington SPCA. She is a Lay representative on the Osteopath Review Committee and is a Member of the Vocational Committee of the Wellington Rotary Club. Bice joined the NZORD board in November 2014.

Joanna Lusk

Joanna Lusk

Joanna is employed full time as Senior Finance Manager at Waitemata DHB, based at North Shore Hospital in Auckland, and has been in the role for just over three years. Joanna is a trustee of Panacea Arts Charitable Trust (Trading as Spark Centre for Creative Development) since February 2013, and is also a trustee on the Board of NZORD since late 2014. Joanna is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (CAANZ), and a member of the Institute of Directors (IOD). Prior to joining the DHB Joanna held senior finance roles in commercial organisations spanning the Health and Primary Manufacturing sectors.

We are also very grateful to our previous trustees.