Homelessness is a complex issue that no single organisation has the ability to solve
Meet our leadership team
The Chief Executives of the five organisations, the Housing First Auckland Project Lead, Programme Manager and the Housing First Auckland Māori Strategic Lead make up the Collective’s leadership team. They provide strategic input and community and iwi connection across Tāmaki Makaurau.
Together we promote and champion housing as a human right for all whānau.
Julie Nelson, Housing First Auckland Project Lead and joint Chief Executive, Wise Group
Julie is the joint chief executive of the Wise Group of entities, one of the largest non- government providers of mental health and wellbeing services in New Zealand. Julie has co-led the Group for more than 25 years, over which time it has grown from one to more than 1,000 employees.
Julie has also been instrumental in championing the adoption of the Housing First model in New Zealand and has worked on the frontline with chronically homeless people. She leads The People’s Project in Hamilton, which was established by the Wise Group to end chronic homelessness in Hamilton by 2016. The People’s Project is the first large-scale, researched pilot of Housing First in New Zealand.
Julie’s knowledge of community housing is in-depth. She has spent time in other countries reviewing various community housing models and was the co-chair of the Council of Community Housing Aotearoa.
Auckland City Missioner Helen Robinson has a wealth of experience in social services and a deep understanding of the social issues facing Aotearoa and a commitment to justice and equity in our country.
Helen’s adult life has been devoted to addressing our country’s social issues. Starting as a youth worker and social worker, she subsequently gained a broad range of experience primarily in a community development context. She has worked with some of New Zealand’s most excluded and marginalised people in a range of organisations and roles.
Prior to Helen’s installation as Auckland City Missioner in 2021, she held the role of General Manager of Social Services at the Mission for four years. In that time, she led the development of services to include a Housing First programme and the opening of two transitional housing programmes including one specifically for women. Helen has led significant improvements in all services to provide a dignified experience for people needing the Mission’s support.
A Victoria University graduate in law and social policy, Helen recently (2019) completed a Masters of Social and Community Leadership.
Jo Denvir joined Lifewise as the CE on 14 April 2020. She is an experienced and committed Chief Executive in leading non-profit organisations, with a deep connection to the Mahi of Lifewise. Jo’s background includes six years leading Lifeline Aotearoa and while there, turning it into a national organisation that better suits its ability to carry out its critical work of saving lives.
Jo also has experience in property — both social housing as well as commercial property — and has managed and advised regional housing projects in Australia.
Fiona has almost 20 years’ experience in research, programme management and leadership across a range of sectors including the Waitangi Tribunal claim process, mental health workforce development and Housing First.
Her previous experience has seen her work closely and collaboratively with mana whenua, local government and Ministries and departments such as Housing, Social Development, Health and Justice.
Lisa is the CEO of VisionWest Community Trust, one of New Zealand’s largest community services providers. The Trust is well known for its innovative and holistic approach, encompassing a wide range of services to more than 20,000 people in the community every year, through its more than 1,500 employees and 100 volunteers.
Lisa is as an expert in social issues and a champion for social justice within New Zealand. With more than 20 years’ experience as an advocate, volunteer, policy advisor, commentator, manager and CEO, she is passionate about community development and addressing social issues such as poverty, marginalisation, unemployment and homelessness. Her Master’s thesis on Supportive Housing can be viewed on VisionWest’s website.
Lisa joined VisionWest in 1998 and was appointed CEO in 2001. She has led the organisation to unparalleled growth and impact on the local community, which has been recognised through several accolades including an award for Leadership from the Australian and New Zealand Association of Social Housing Providers.