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.



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.


Sandra Johnston – National Trauma Manager / Client Relationship Manager - Pou Tiaki Wairua a Motu

Dip Clin Sup; MSc Hons Counselling Psychology; Cert Advanced CISM; C.A.T.E. Memberships CIMA, ICISF. Accredited & Registered Advanced Trainer CIMA/ICISF

Sandra has over 20 years’ experience in employee assistance, specialising in trauma support. She is responsible for delivering and managing Vitae’s trauma support service throughout New Zealand and has been closely involved in many of New Zealand’s most traumatic events.

Sandra is certified in Critical Incident Response and the training of trauma responders. Sandra is President of Crisis Intervention & Management Australasia (CIMA) for 2017.