Andrea Lee - National President

Originally from the Waikato, Andrea, her husband and two children settled in Nelson in 2004 after living and working abroad for many years.

With a BA in Sociology, Andrea has over 30 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector including both the Youth, Education and Disability sectors in paid, voluntary and governance roles both in NZ and internationally. Before having children, she worked in Bosnia after the Bosnian war as a teacher educator and was the Director of Studies at an international school in the UK.

Parent to Parent became part of Andrea’s life in 2007 when her son was diagnosed with the rare genetic condition. She has attended and presented at numerous disability sector conferences both internationally and in New Zealand. Andrea is a current Parent to Parent Support Parent.

Andrea works as the Executive Director for Fragile X New Zealand.

Julie-Ann Johnson - Vice President

My husband, three children and I reside on the rural Canterbury Plains. After gaining my Bachelor of Commerce and Management in 1991, I was an accountant for several Christchurch companies including Tegel Foods, Tait Electronics and Kiwi Packaging. Once the children all started school I have since been a self-employed contractor providing accounting, review, project management and administrative services.

The arrival of Patrick, now aged 12, started a challenging and often rewarding journey for our family as his intellectual disability impacts on family life, education and community. He is a young man full of surprises, a great sense of humour and a mighty love for Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends.

I have been the treasurer for the Selwyn Launch Group since mid 2016. Their aim is to promote the inclusion of young adults with disabilities through work experience, employment and social activities. I have had three years’ governance experience as a trustee on a primary school board, which began in June 2013.

I have been an active member and committee chairperson of Greater Canterbury Parent to Parent since June 2010. Volunteering as a support parent is extremely rewarding.

Sarah Verran

As a Cambridge mother of a  15-year-old daughter who requires 24/7 care after a traumatic brain injury 4 years
ago, Sarah has learned quickly how to advocate for her to have an inclusive life.

Accessing a multitude of services for her daughter on a daily basis has enabled Sarah to see where positive change can be made. She is passionate about offering practical insights as to how to access resources from a more effective wraparound model of care service.

“It’s challenging to access supports when you don’t know where to find them and there is fragmentation between services in the sector. I knew I could use my governance skills to help shape better outcomes for our communities.” 

A strong advocate for communication, activation and belief, Sarah describes herself as a glass half full thinker who knows how to navigate a very complex health system and build strong relationships in order to achieving best outcomes for whānau. In 2018 Sarah became the recipient of the Institute of Directors Emerging Director award in the disability sector forging her path into governance and igniting her passion to bring a grassroots experience and perspective to the board table. Sarah also sits on the national boards of Life Unlimited and CCS  Disability Action outside of her professional role in marketing for a leading media company.

Frian Wadia

Kia ora,

Ko Frian Wadia toku ingoa. My husband and I have 3 lovely boys 16yrs, 14yrs and 12yrs old, all with varying disabilities and learning needs. Through our experiences within the education and health systems over the years, I have become a passionate advocate for creating systemic change to ensure inclusion and enabling a meaningful dignified life for all individuals with disabilities. I am particularly interested in the creation of a truly inclusive education system where every student is valued, supported, has a strong sense of belonging, and is able to learn and thrive.

In my professional capacity, I am a certified ECE teacher, currently working part time and recently qualified as an Early Intervention teacher.

Over the last few years, I have been part of various support groups, committees, school and governance boards.

For the last few years, I have been on the leadership team of admins for VIPS Equity in Education, an online inclusive education advocacy forum for families, and have been a support parent with Parent to Parent. Currently I am in my second term on our local primary school board; and in 2019 I was appointed to the national Lotteries Individuals with Disabilities distribution committee, and the Teaching Council governance board.

My constant endeavours are aimed at empowering families and disabled people; improving systems, policies and legislation to ensure disabled children’s rights are upheld; and equity is ensured for all children irrespective of their abilities, socioeconomic status, neurodiversity and any other challenges. I love gardening, listening to music, and watching movies whenever I get the chance. I look forward to contributing my skills, expertise and lived experience to the best of my ability, for the benefit of our children and whanau.