Our team

Board members -Tumu Whakahaere

Peter Barnett (Chairman), Wayne Freeman (Deputy Chairman), Leona Garchow, Henare Kani, Andrew Nicholls, Mark Pickering,  Denys Wright

Peter Barnett
Chairman - Mana Whakahaere

Originally from Dunedin, Peter has also lived in Christchurch, Timaru and for over 25 years in London before coming to Wellington in 2005.  Peter brings to the Board Chair role extensive and wide-ranging experience of management, policy development, advisory and consultancy, as well as governance and voluntary roles, in industry, business, education, social care and health sectors in England and New Zealand.

He has worked in both Government and community organisations, and his particular interests are integrated care planning and provision across mental health and addiction, social inclusion, workforce development, peer support and consumer leadership.

Peter has considerable business (including corporate directorships) and Not-for-Profit management experience, including financial management and reporting, and has been an active member of Finance & Audit Committees of several organisations (including Seed / Vitae).

Peter has been a Vitae Board member since 2011 when Seed and Workplace Support North Island merged as Vitae, and had been a Seed Board member for two years before that.

He has held Chair/Deputy Chair roles in NGOs and sector bodies in England and New Zealand, served on Wellington Cathedral Vestry and Finance Committee, and is currently Chair of Kites Trust in Wellington.

Management Team

Liz Pennington
Chief Executive
- Tumuaki
RCpN,  BA, DTTchg, Dip NFP Mgt, MN

Liz was appointed to the role of Chief Executive in August 2013.

Liz was born in Hawkes bay and is of Irish descent. Following her nursing education she has completed further study in education, health and management.

Previously Liz has worked in a range of roles in mental health, social and community development, tertiary education and in the not for profit sector. In addition Liz has worked as a National Auditor/ Surveyor of Health and Disability Services and has served as Chairperson of the Anglican Care Network of New Zealand.

Liz is the NZ representative and Vice President of the EAPAA  (Employee Assistance Professionals Association of Australasia)  and is a Fellow of the College of Nurses and a member of the NZ Occupational Health Nurses Association and the NZ Pain Society.



David Rodgers
Corporate Services Manager - Pou Rātonga Rangatōpu
NZCE Civil

David brings more than 20 years’ experience in business management to this role. He has held senior roles in facilities, aged care and corporate management.

His strengths in strategic leadership, planning, systems and policy development have been instrumental in supporting the growth of Vitae since he joined in 2003. David is responsible for Vitae's business systems and processes and leads the front line team, supporting access to Vitae's clinical services.


Jerri Bassi
Manager Psychological Services - Pou Rātonga Hinengaro a Motu

As Manager of Psychological Services, Jerri leads the nationwide network of counsellors, psychologists and coaches for Vitae.

Jerri is a registered Psychotherapist with over 25 years experience in clinical practice. He is highly skilled in both group and individual practice theories and has provided clinical and administrative support to Vitae clients since 2009.



Rebecca Pohe
Intake Services Manager - Pou Arataki Ratonga

Rebecca comes to Vitae from her previous role in Leicester where she was working as a Child protection and safeguarding lead for a school of 1800 pupils.  She was also a trainer for the Prevent Duty – Counter Terrorism and Security team, a Child Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Champion representing education for all of Leicester as well as a Draw and Talk Counsellor.

Her past roles have included those here in New Zealand at the Ministry of Social Development as a Case Manager and a role at the  WIT (Polytech)  where she had a role supporting international students and pastoral care responsibilities.

Rebecca grew up in Wainuiomata and has two children and a grandchild. She had a passion for sports playing softball, netball, basketball and rugby when younger and now enjoys watching sports - especially rugby.

Kathy Green
Manager On-site Services - Pou Rātonga a Motu
NZCT, B.SocSc, Dip.DR

Prior to managing the On-site team for Vitae, Kathy worked for 10 years in on-site support with some of the Waikato region’s largest businesses. She is responsible for the quality and professional development of the On-site team in New Zealand.

Previously Kathy worked in the education sector and has tertiary qualifications in industrial relations and human resource management.


Dr Vivien Rodgers
National Wellbeing and Education Manager -
Kaiwkahaere Kaupapa Ora a Motu

Vivien has recently joined the
Vitae team in this new role of National Wellbeing and Education Manager.

Her background has included a wide range of nursing, pastoral, management, education and research experience.  Vivien is a published author and has presented at national and international conferences.

Vivien has recently retired from 15 years lecturing in undergraduate and postgraduate nursing at Massey University. She continues in an adjunct position.

Vivien is also an experienced trauma responder and member of Vitae’s trauma team since 2010.

Sandra Johnston – National Trauma Consultant

MSc Hons  Counselling Psychology; Assoc. Degree Business Management Cert Advanced CISM; C.A.T.E. Dip Clin Sup; Memberships CIMA, ICISF. Accredited & Registered Advanced Trainer CIMA/ICISF. Compassion Fatigue Educator International. Green Cross.

After 33 years working with Vitae in retirement Sandra continues to support Vitae’s development and maintenance of its national trauma network.

Sandra is certified in Critical Incident Response and the training of trauma responders to advanced level. She is a member of the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) Crisis Intervention and Management Australasia (CIMA) & sits on their Board of Management.

Sandra is the Australasian president of CIMA, has a Masters in Trauma and holds three international licences to train at an advanced level.