Andy Benge, FAST Trust Co-Ordinator
Andy has had seventeen years of experience within the disability sector within New Zealand.
Previous to that she worked and lived overseas for sixteen years.
Andy originally trained as a pharmacist and as an intern became heavily involved with the rehabilitation of those struggling with drug addictions.
Her first job as a qualified pharmacist found her applying to work alongside the Royal Flying Doctor service in the outback of Australia working with indigenous populations, cultural minorities, and those working in isolated areas on the dog fence and outback stations.
This first exposure to diverse cultures and struggling communities coloured her whole career.
Her travels continued and gravitated to her spending many years working and traveling in the third world where she pursued her philanthropic nature helping the underprivileged, isolated communities and those living subsistence existences in Africa, Asia and the Islands.
Andy eventually returned with her young children to New Zealand to be close to family.
She has continued her great passion for humanity and social equality by founding and working in two philanthropic Trusts over the last 10 years.
She has undertaken extensive training to add to and increase her expertise in business, staff management, governance, disability and cultural understanding of minorities.
Andy is a daughter of the Waikato and although she spent many years having a positive impact on the global community, she has returned to the place and people of her birth.
She continues with great passion to fight for equality and to help nurture the many possibilities of all the peoples of the Waikato.
Debbie Lascelles, Chair
Debbie completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Auckland where she first developed her passion for social justice and empowered communities.
This led her to a post-graduate degree in Community Psychology at the University of Waikato and an internship at Hamilton City Council in their Community Development Unit.
Debbie’s professional background in participatory research methods and evaluation of social programmes has been utilised comprehensively throughout her career.
Debbie has extensive governance experience and has been part of a number of trust boards, including Te Ohu Whakaaita, Indigo: A Gathering of Cultures, and Waikato Digital Youth Network.
She has worked in multiple business units within local government since 2007.
She is currently a Group Manager at Waipa District Council where she leads iwi partnerships, communication and engagement and community services.
Debbie has a passion for community led practice, empowering the not for profit sector and working with disadvantaged communities to level the playing field.
She has been a member of the FAST Trust since 2012.
Maria Burr, Trustee
Maria was born in Dublin Ireland. As a young woman she sought experiences outside the comfort and security of her homeland and moved to the UK where she turned her hand to learning a diverse skill set which equipped her to work and gain promotion within the tourism/hospitality and allied industries for 15 years. During that time she richly enjoyed the experience of mixing with a multitude of diverse cultures and people. Over the years she has continued to build on this initial skill set expanding to office and managerial positions.
Maria emigrated to NZ over twenty years ago joining her Kiwi husband. Over these years Maria has continued to enjoy extensive travel within New Zealand and overseas and has continued to embrace difference and diversity, coupled with the deep inherent belief of the importance of offering help to those less fortunate.
Maria has 20 years experience within the disability sector in New Zealand, including many years counseling and supporting families dealing with hardship and adversity. She trained as an ABA therapist soon after her arrival and ten years ago trained and works with assistance dogs. Due to her wealth of personal experience she has been generous with her time with an inherent belief of the need to give back to the local community and volunteered actively supporting new immigrants. She was one of the founders of the FAST Trust and has stayed passionate concerning the need for social equality and the rights of all to enjoy a life full of hope and endless possibilities.
Richie Jenkins, Trustee
Richie is General Manager of The Instiller Group, with his passion for people and change management seeing him lead the business through rapid growth the past three years which included the acquisition of Vo2 and Origin IT.
Richie’s other interests in the tech space include EarShot Ltd (Foundation shareholder) and Cloudland Ltd (Director).
Outside of this, Richie is passionate about the Waikato and an active member of the local business community, working closely with the Waikato Chamber of Commerce, Regional Tech leaders Group and Hamilton CBD Association.
He has a young family based in Cambridge including his son Mac (8), who was diagnosed with ASD and global development delay when he was two. Since then, Richie has been dedicated to working alongside specialist providers and continuing to grow his knowledge and understanding to support Mac on their journey.