Be. Team

Be. Institute Trustees

John Allen – Chair

John AllenJohn Allen was appointed the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Racing Board in March 2015, having previously held the role of Chief Executive and Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade since July 2009.

Prior to joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, John was Chief Executive of New Zealand Post, where he led a range of initiatives to drive growth in advance of declining mail volumes. He held a number of senior positions at New Zealand Post before his appointment as its Chief Executive in 2003.

A former Partner of Rudd Watts & Stone, specialising in commercial and public policy issues, John has also been a visiting Lecturer in Law at Victoria University of Wellington. He is an experienced company director and was co-chair of the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum until April 2011. In his previous role he was adviser to the Boards of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Education New Zealand and Asia New Zealand Foundation; and trustee of the New Zealand China Council. John is Chair of the New Zealand Police Assurance and Risk Committee and Be. Accessible Charitable Trust. He is also a member of the Territorial Forces Employer Support Council; and a trustee of the New Zealand International Arts Festival and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Foundation.  

Ant Howard - Trustee

Ant HowardA former CEO of Wang New Zealand (now known as gen-i), which under Ant's leadership reinvented itself from a product company to become one of the country’s most innovative and successful systems integration and services companies. It listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange as part of this process.

Ant's broad experience with public and privately owned companies gives him depth and breadth of expertise in strategy development; go to market planning and execution; corporate governance; corporate restructuring; mergers and acquisitions; capital raising; business strategies and planning. He has particular expertise and passion for building highly effective leadership teams and facilitating a strong and constructive working dynamic between investors and owners.   

Mary-Jane Rivers – Trustee

Mary-Jane Rivers

For Mary-Jane, the importance of communities was reinforced though her family's involvement in their own neighbourhood and her senior management roles in local and central government, especially leading social impact assessment work in the late 1980s. Mary-Jane has been CEO of the NZ Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux and has run her own business.

Mary-Jane has been involved with international development work in several Pacific countries, Asia and in Eastern Europe for the World Bank, UNDP and NZ MFAT. She has seen the lasting and far-reaching impact of many community development initiatives based on community leadership working hand-in-hand with government, business, NGOs and funders.

Ross Brereton – Trustee

Ross Brereton

Ross is a committed advocate for the human rights and protections of disabled people and he has over 30 years’ experience in the management and governance of disability organisations.

Ross has an MA in Sociology and diplomas in Teaching and Human Resource Management.

His previous roles include: CEO of Disabled Persons Assembly NZ, Human Rights Commissioner, Assistant Chief Executive of CCS and National Services Manager of the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind. Ross has a congenital visual impairment.

Executive Team

Minnie Baragwanath – Chief Executive

Minnie Baragwanath

Minnie Baragwanath is the CEO and founder of Be. Accessible – a social change agency shifting Aotearoa from disability to possibility. Minnie believes New Zealand can become a thought-leader, a visionary, and a global powerhouse in access innovation. She envisions a thriving nation whose leaders, thinkers, and makers are embracing the opportunities accessibility presents.

Minnie has a BA in English Literature, a Bachelor of Communications Studies, and a graduate diploma in Economic Development. Minnie was a recipient of the Sir Peter Blake Leadership award in 2013, became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2014, and was placed as a top 10 finalist for the 2017 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Award. She is a finalist for the 2017 Women of Influence Awards, and a Leadership New Zealand alum.


Megan Barclay - General Manager

Megan Barclay

Megan is General Manager at the Be. Institute. She was previously the Director of the Be. Welcome Programme.

Prior to this Megan was the Executive Director at Leadership New Zealand, along with having 20 years working in corporate leadership in the private sector. She brings a wealth of knowledge about creating effective and meaningful strategies for the future success of the Be. Institute. Megan's vibrant and go-getter attitude makes her perfect for driving the Be. Accessible mission!

Be. Welcome

Neville Pulman - Be. Welcome Programme Director

Neville Pullman

Neville is the Director of the Be. Welcome Programme at the Be. Institute.

Prior to this Neville was Managing Director of a National Field marketing business that specialized in improving the customer journey and experience across a wide group of channel partners.  With over 20 years of senior leadership experience and relationship development Neville is currently on the Board of Leadership New Zealand.

Lauren Wetini - Be. Welcome Project Manager

Lauren WetiniLauren has been involved with Be. since it first started in 2011.  Her role as first employee was Personal Assistant to Minnie as well as turning an empty space into a hive of activity with desks, chairs and phones.  

Since then, Lauren has had two children and continued working for Be. by becoming a Be. Coach, and now works part time co-ordinating accessibility development programmes with businesses and organisations.

Our Be. Coaches

Located in the South Island

Jane Cowan-Harris
Jane Cowan-HarrisI am an occupational therapist based in Christchurch where I run my own private practice seeing people with pain and discomfort in workplaces, training in safe work practices and aiming to encourage good ergonomic design of workplaces to prevent discomfort, thus helping people to work more effectively. I have been running this business for the last 12 years, and been an OT for around 38 years, with experience in a wide variety of areas.

I first came across Be. at the inaugural Inclusive Design conference in Auckland in 2013 and thought what a great concept and what cool people in the Be team, so got in touch to see how I could be a part of the movement. I haven’t looked back since then – the support, the great people and the willingness to share ideas and help out when stuck have all been fantastic. And, of course, the end result is a world where everyone has equal access to places!
Prudence Walker
Prudence WalkerBased in Christchurch, I have worked in the not -or-profit sector for the last 15 years. I currently lead Disability Leadership and Education activities in the South Island for a disability service provider.

As a Be. Coach I enjoy working with organisations to achieve their accessibility vision.
Located in the North Island
Wellington and Kapiti Coast

Genevieve McLachlan MNZM
Genevieve McLachlanI have run my own business, Adaptive Technology Solutions, in Upper Hutt, Wellington helping people with disabilities access specialized assistive technology since 2007. When the opportunity came up to become a Be. Coach I jumped at the chance as I’m passionate about accessibility in general, not just around technology and this fits in well with my philosophy. I’ve been involved with Be. Accessible since taking part in the Be. Leadership program in 2012.

I’m involved in several voluntary roles within my local community and was honoured to be named a Member of the NZ Order of Merit for services to people with disabilities in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

I love everything about being a Be. Coach! I love working with business who want to progress their accessibility journey and who are looking at the overall picture about accessibility benefiting a whole range of people, not just those with physical disabilities.
Sandie Waddell
Sandie WaddellI am based on the Kapiti Coast and have a background in management, quality auditing and facilitation. Having worked in the health and disability world, both in the public and private sectors for a number of years, I have a passion for promoting equal opportunities and access for all.
As a Be. Coach I really enjoy working alongside people who have a commitment to ensuring as many people as possible can participate in and access their businesses.

Steve Taylor
I am based in Hamilton, New Zealand. I have an extensive background in Civil Engineering, having spent 20+ years working for Local Government and Engineering Consultancies designing and improving facilities for access. I am also an Associate Member of the Institute for Professional Engineers of New Zealand (A.IPENZ).
My wife Sharyn and I have two sons with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. After observing the difficulties first hand that they have in moving about in the community and New Zealand as a whole, I have joined the Be. family.
Being a Be. Coach provides an exciting opportunity to provide solutions and promote the awareness that 1 in 4 people in New Zealand deal with every day.

Felix Lin
Felix LinI am an Information Consultant around the disability sector for the Asian Services team at the Independent Living Service in Auckland. I am currently training with Be. Coaches, in order to create a more accessible environment for all people within NZ.
I speak Mandarin and Cantonese, and believe that there is lots of potential for access development within the Asian business community.


Ian McDonald

Profile photo of Ian McDonald Having travelled the world and experienced the ease of getting around in many countries and cities, I was encouraged to become involved and join the drive to help make New Zealand more accessible.

I am a Communications Adviser with Baseball New Zealand and work as a Be. Coach on a part time basis and I am excited to be given an opportunity to work with two of my passions, sport and accessibility. I am based in West Auckland and look forward to a future New Zealand where anyone can do anything and not be held back

Jacqui O'Connor

Jacqui O'Connor I first came across Be. through some other work and I thought that living in an inclusive world was right up with my values. I am a Registered Nurse based in Auckland where I run my own private practice as an energy healer.  My focus is to care for the carer.  The carer is often facing our most vulnerable - elderly, children and sick.  I believe if we have them topped up with energy they are able to make such a huge difference in others lives. Often the carer sees accessing wellness as a luxury so I’m very passionate about offering accessibility to wellness to everyone.


Julianne McEldowney
Julianne McEldowneyBased at the Independent Living Service Charitable Trust in Auckland, I have extensive experience in the disability and community sectors. 

As a Master Coach I am passionate about accessibility and I enjoy engaging with businesses at the beginning of their Be. journey, walking alongside them to develop creative solutions for enhanced visitor experience.

Pam Antill
Pam AntillBased in west Auckland, I enjoy living in the bush. Trained originally as an occupational therapist, and having worked
with people in varying situations and from many different backgrounds, I understand some of the challenges that they face.
As a Be Coach, it gives me great pleasure to identify and help to resolve some of the issues that may prevent people from
participating in life to the full.

Peter Rawlings

Peter RawlingsAs one of Be. Welcome’s Master Coaches, I have worked with Be. from the start, being involved in the design of our Be. Welcome checklists, training of new Be. Coaches and assessing a wide range of built environments.

My current focus is working with architects and designers reviewing design plans and carrying out larger/be-spoke assessments within the public and commercial sectors.

Tony Howe
Tony HoweI am based in Auckland and have been a Master Coach with Be. for the past five years. I am also part of the Be. Leadership Alumni, having participated in the Be. Leadership Programme in 2012.
I have a Barrier-Free background and a shared vision towards universal design and access for all, to which I bring my lived experience with a progressive physical impairment. I also work as an Information Consultant around the disability sector at Independent Living Service.


Be. Leadership

Lesley Slade – Be. Leadership Programme Director

Lesley Slade

Lesley Slade has a long history in leadership development working with individuals, organisations and communities. Lesley began her adult life by training to be a teacher and has worked as a community worker - initiating and setting up community programmes. In her other experiences, Lesley has also held senior human resource and organisational development roles.

She was the inaugural Chief Executive of Leadership New Zealand between 2005 and 2008. Lesley remains working in the leadership development space as a co-Director of Be. Leadership and as a consultant on leadership, people and organisational development.

Philip Patston – Be. Leadership Programme Director

Philip Patston

Philip is best recognised for his ten-year career as a comedian and entertainer but these days, it's his passion for social change that is getting him noticed.

An alumnus of the New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship and Leadership New Zealand, Philip passionately believes that, individually and collectively, we have a powerful opportunity to significantly change our social fabric - simply by creatively re-imagining diversity.

Besides his role as co-director of the Be. Leadership programme, Philip's professional highlights include: being appointed the Patron of Rainbow Youth, speaking at the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford; and setting up not-for-profit organizations including the Diversityworks Trust, Ripple Trust, Manawanui inCharge and Auckland Disability Law.

Be. Employed

Sarah Mitchell - Be. Employed Programme Director

 Sarah MitchellSarah Mitchell is the Programme Director for Be. Employed. She is responsible for managing this exciting pilot initiative, which focusses on sourcing and tertiary students with access needs into meaningful work. Sarah is also responsible for the Be. Employed consultative model, which like the Be. Welcome programme (through an employment lens) enables and empowers businesses and organisations to create experiences and services that are accessible to every New Zealander.

Sarah has tertiary qualifications in Employment Relations and Human Resource Management and has recently returned to New Zealand after more than a decade living and working in Hong Kong.

As a member of the Blind Foundation and having worked as a minority in a foreign employment market, Sarah fully appreciates the struggle and barriers put in front of people from diverse backgrounds. Sarah approaches life with a "can do" attitude and she has a passion for encouraging and promoting the same philosophy amongst our diverse workforce. She is committed to translating this open-minded attitude to potential employers and employees alike.

Be. Campaign

Hannah Slade - Communications Manager & Be. Leadership Programme Manager

Hannah SladeHannah is passionate about leadership, social change and sustainability, and has been truly inspired by the positive and motivating environment at Be.

In her capacity as Communications Manager, Hannah talks to people doing amazing things in the accessibility space, and then shares their stories via social media and the e-newsletter.

As Programme Manager for the Be. Leadership Programme, Hannah works with incredible leaders from within the access community, ensuring they get the most out of their time on the leadership programme, which she finds rewarding and energizing.


Be. Office

Debbie Irwin - Website Administrator

Debbie brings a high degree of professionalism and analytical ability to the Be. Welcome team. Her time contracting to the Independent Living Service Auckland, as well as her background in client relationship management make her a valuable team member.