Introducing Renee Wood, President of Epilepsy NZ

As a stay-at-home Mum of two adventurous little girls, life is busy and exciting. My husband and I feel very lucky to have the tight little family we do as well as our extended whanau who have a huge role in the ‘village’ raising our girls. After my daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2017, one of my first calls was to Epilepsy New Zealand. It was great to talk with someone who could give me guidance and support at a very confusing stressful time for our family. Once I got my head around everything, I knew I wanted to get involved in some way and thought about using my skills in a positive way for people with epilepsy.

I served four years as a Board Member of the Ruahine Kindergarten Association from early 2016 where I learned so much about the governance side of a not-for-profit organisation. This added to the skills acquired in my 10 years employed in the legal sector. I completed my further education in 2005, graduating as a qualified Legal Executive which is an achievement I am incredibly proud of. In the last five years of my employment, I was a Registered Legal Executive managing my own client base and advising clients in their legal matters on a daily basis while also managing staff under me.

At the 2018 Annual General Meeting for Epilepsy New Zealand I was elected onto the Board. Volunteer work has always been special to me, having taken part in volunteer work in various forms for more than 25 years and I consider it an absolute privilege to serve on the Board for Epilepsy New Zealand.

The Board of Epilepsy New Zealand has been very busy over the last two years working through some high level matters that we are all proud to have been part of. I’m really appreciative of being able to have spent most of that time as the Vice-President soaking in all the knowledge I can from Dr Bergin while he was in the role of President. After three years in the role, Dr Bergin has taken the opportunity to stand down from the role and the Board agreed that I would be best suited to take on the role of President. Dr Bergin has done great things in his time as President, leading the Board through difficult decisions and rewarding victories. Thank you Dr Bergin for all of your efforts. As a Board, we are thrilled that you will be remaining on the Board to continue the good work being done.

During my time on the Board for Epilepsy New Zealand, I have taken a lead role in many tasks from policy review, Annual General Meeting preparation and planning, remit drafting, HR matters, meeting with Educators, attending parliament, participating in national projects relating to epilepsy and so much more. From late March to early May 2020, I took a leave of absence from the Board to step into the role of Acting Chief Executive Officer. The timing was remarkable! Despite being thrown in the deep end at the worst possible time, we got through because of the ‘can-do’ attitude of everyone at Epilepsy New Zealand. I’m so proud of the determination and willingness to ‘make it work’ shown by everyone at that time. This time allowed me to gain an even deeper understanding of the inner workings of Epilepsy New Zealand which is invaluable.

Looking towards the future, I hope to see Epilepsy New Zealand go from strength to strength to increase our reach so we can support even more people with epilepsy to live their best life. As a Board, we have a varied range of skills while all of us are absolutely competent in what we do. Everyone on the Board is 100% committed to ensuring that providing quality support to as many people living with epilepsy as possible remains the highest priority in all that we do. I know that Epilepsy New Zealand can certainly achieve this with the support of our hard working and experienced Educators and National Support Centre team who always go above and beyond to get the mahi done.

I’m really looking forward to leading an organisation that is doing such amazing work within our communities and working towards growing it for the future alongside my fellow board members.

Nga mihi,
Renee Wood

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