The Board’s Secretariat
Vanessa Simpson is the Board’s Tumauki/Pouroki (General Manager/Registrar). She is responsible for Secretariat Leadership and the regulatory functions of the organisation. Vanessa joined the NZ Psychologists Board in October 2022 bringing a background of leadership and governance across the ambulance and health sectors.
Ann Connell (Registered Clinical Psychologist, practising) is the Board’s Kaitohutohu Matua – Mātai Hinengaro (Senior Psychology Advisor). She advises the Board, the Secretariat, and the wider psychology community on professional aspects of complaints, competence, fitness, and registration matters, as well as any other issues arising that impact on the psychology profession. She takes a lead role in setting up Competence Reviews and Programmes, and is a member of the Complaints, Competence, and Fitness (CCF) Committee and Accreditation Committee. Ann has previously worked as a Clinical Psychologist for DHB mental health, addiction, and intellectual disability services. She is the usual first point of contact for psychologists who want to discuss professional matters of concern.
Nikki Reynolds (Registered Clinical Psychologist, practicing) works part-time as a Kaitohutohu – Mātai Hinengaro (Psychology Advisor) for the Board alongside Ann Connell. She advises the Board, the Secretariat and the wider psychological community on professional aspects of complaints, competence, fitness and registration matters as well as other matters that impact the psychology profession. She takes a lead role in setting up competency reviews and programmes and is a member of the Complaints, Competence, and Fitness Committee (CCF). Nikki worked for the Department of Corrections for many years as a clinical psychologist where she was the Chief Psychologist for the Department for a number of years. As part of that role she was responsible for psychological input into Correctional policy and programmes and ensuring a high professional standard was maintained by psychologists working for the Department. She currently undertakes some private practice work as well as her work for the Board.
Gina Giannios is the Board’s Pouroki Tuarua (Deputy Registrar). Her role includes considering applications for registration and practising certificates, and working with the Professional Advisors to manage conduct, competence and fitness cases. Gina’s role also includes the administration of the Board’s accreditation processes for university- and agency-based training programmes as well as the coordination of the Continuing Competence Programme annual audit.
Natasha Davidson is one of the Board’s Kaiwhakarite Rēhita me te Paerewa (Registration and Standards Coordinators). She has a background in registration from her previous roles with regulatory authorities. Natasha supports the Board in ensuring the Board meets its obligations in terms of the principal purpose of the HPCA Act. Natasha administers the sections of the HPCA Act that deal with registration, competence, fitness to practice, and other concerns about registered psychologists.
Varsha Parsotam is is one of the Board’s Kaiwhakarite Rēhita me te Paerewa (Registrations and Standards Coordinators). Varsha has a background in registration from her previous role in a similar regulatory authority. She also supports the Board in ensuring the Board meets its obligations in terms of the principal purpose of the HPCA Act. She processes registration applications in accordance with the HPCA Act and Board policies. Varsha also helps to administer those sections of the HPCA Act that deal with competence, fitness to practice, and other concerns about registered psychologists.
Alexis Kemelmager is the Board’s Kaiāwhina Tumu me te Hēkeretari o te Poari (Executive Assistant and Board Secretary). Alexis coordinates Board meetings and minutes and provides administrative support to the GM. She has worked across both public and private sectors in administrative and advisory roles, most recently in regulatory health.
Jo Pugh is the Board’s Kaiāwhina (Administrative Assistant). She undertakes general office duties, maintains records and computer files, co-ordinates meetings and functions, undertakes projects, processes applications for registration from overseas-trained practitioners, and assists the rest of the team as required. She draws on extensive experience from her previous career as a retail banker with a strong focus on customer service and administrative processes.
Maria Thomas is the Board’s Kaitohutohu Whakawhiti Kōrero (Communications Advisor). Her role includes communicating and distributing quality content to foster engagement between the Board, it’s members and the public. Her background is in science communication, where she has worked with research institutes.
Rachael Heslop is the Board’s Kaitohutohu Rautaki me nga Kaupapa (Strategy and Projects Advisor). She has been working in professional regulation since the early 2000s and has held statutory and senior positions in several regulatory authorities. Rachael is currently contracted to the Board on a part-time basis. She is involved in progressing several of the Board’s strategic projects
Leigh Hikawai is the Board’s Tūmāia Kāiarahi Project Lead. She has been working in the health sector for more than 20 years. Leigh has held nurse related positions in education, leadership, clinical and project management, and managed a district health board’s general practice. She is a health sector standards auditor and quality surveyor with a focus on safe and equitable services for Māori and vulnerable people. Leigh is currently employed part time by the Board. Her role is to assist Tūmāia Kāiarahi in their assigned work integral to the Board’s whole systems review.