OUR STAFF

Frances Arns – Executive Director

(She/Her)

Kia ora I’m Frances, the Executive Director of RainbowYOUTH.

While I was born in Wellington, I spent most of my childhood (and now adult life) in Auckland. In the middle of that, I spent four years (from age 14-18) at a boarding school called Iona in the Hawke’s Bay.

When I finished school I did a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Accounting and Management at the University of Auckland. From there I spent three years at ASB, working in a variety of roles across strategy and finance, and chairing ASB’s LGBTI network group. Working with RainbowYOUTH through the Unity group exposed me to the incredible work RY does, and gave me the chance to meet some of the great people running and supporting the organisation.

Having had a privileged upbringing as a queer person in Aoteroa, I want to use my skills and experience to help support queer and gender diverse youth, and continue working towards achieving RainbowYOUTH’s vision. The organisation is already having such a huge impact, and I am excited to see what the future holds for us!

Outside of work, I love experimenting with vegetarian and vegan food, and I have a side project making and selling vegan pies. I’ll also admit that my guilty pleasure is watching Shortland Street.


Toni Duder – Communications Manager & 2IC

(She/Her)

Kia ora koutou!

I originally hail from Dargaville in Northland but went to boarding school in Auckland from 13-18. I’ve lived in Auckland ever since!

I’m in charge of the communication stuff that goes on at RainbowYOUTH – managing social media, websites, design. I also manage staff and make sure all of our services run smoothly.  I also am the project manager and creator of RY’s I’m Local Project.

I’ve been an out lesbian since I was 15, and it’s been a bumpy but very rewarding road. Outside of my work at RainbowYOUTH, I’ve got my Masters in Screenwriting at the University of Auckland and try and get as many stories out of my head as possible. My other interests include podcasts, history, cats, books, beaches, spending time with whānau – the usual!


Morgan Butler – Support Manager

(They/Them)

Kia ora whānau, ko Morgan taku ingoa!

I’m the Support Manager for RainbowYOUTH, my role involves looking after the groups and interns, but also providing direct support to young people who contact RainbowYOUTH. I’ve nearly finished my diploma in Youth Work and am looking forward to using my skills in my job.

I was born in Australia but my whānau quickly moved to New Zealand when I was three. My New Zealand roots are from Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Tainui and Ngāpuhi. A lot of my whānau are involved with volunteering for many types of community, so I wanted to follow in their foot steps.

I lived in Hamilton for most of my life, and being a young queer I found out about a queer and trans* group called Waikato Queer Youth (WaQuY)! I started helping out and volunteering for WaQuY when I was 14, and that’s really what got me in to wanting to help out with our community. When I moved to Auckland to study I started volunteering for RY, and they say if you stick around enough people will start to pay you… What can I say, they started to pay me 😀

Outside of work I have a cat named Alaska and she is beautiful and sassy. I live in West Auckland and I love it! I enjoy going to Muriwai, either for a swim or to take my cat for a walk on the beach. I enjoy watching the Kardashians, long car rides, finding new places to climb/swim, or just going to the Domain late at night and looking at the city lights.


Anahera Foley-Paama – Communications and Office Coordinator

(She/Her)

Kia ora, ko Anahera toku ingoa. Ko Te Arawa ratou ko Ngāti Maniapoto, ko Ngāi Te Rangi oku iwi. I was born in Whanganui, my heart is in Tauranga, but Tāmaki Makaurau is where I call home.

I’m the Communications and Office Coordinator here at RainbowYOUTH which means I wear a bunch of different hats! I’m the face behind most of our events, the person who addresses your resource packs, that Anahera that responds to your emails and the one you can blame for all the emojis in our social media posts. And also the one with the scooter at the Auckland drop-in centre!

Outside of my job, I like to sit in my bed, eat chocolate and watch TV (Netflix, Lightbox, Neon, MaoriTV or YouTube to be specific). I also like to decorate my home space with plants… lots and lots of plants. My favourite things in the world include ice cream, people watching, old-school music, my partner Matt, winning the lotto, and dogs.


Melanie Govender – Auckland Schools Coordinator

(She/Her)

Kia ora! I’m Mel or Melanie (but never Melissa).  

When I’m not stuck in traffic singing the wrong lyrics, or attempting to procure the love of a fluffy animal; I nanny, dabble in art-making, and frequently plan tattoos and travel.

I grew up in South Africa as a questioning, rebellious Indian girl, and it was only until the age of 17 that I met my first queer-identified person.  Moving to Aotearoa over a decade ago not only exposed me to queer culture, but also gave me the opportunity to become a part of the RainbowYOUTH whanau.  Joining as a member in 2012, I later became a facilitator for I.D. and then secretary to the board. 

I recently completed my Masters in Educational Psychology and it’s wonderful being back at RainbowYOUTH (and as staff to boot!). 

I’m very excited that my new role as Auckland Schools Coordinator allows me to work alongside youth, teachers and other professionals to promote knowledge about our community, create safe spaces for youth, and belong to a force vying for wider social change. 


Velvl Ryder – Grants Coordinator

(He/Him)

I’m a Ukrainian-born, Auckland-raised wanderer and dreamer, who has been lucky enough to finally get my dream job. I’ve been involved with the international LGBTI community for almost a decade now, helping organize online projects, movements and events with my friends across several time zones. I’ve always loved working with people, and Rainbow Youth gives me the opportunity to learn more about and branch out further into the NZ LGBTI community.

I’m in charge of getting grants and funding for all the amazing projects that Rainbow Youth has planned, and I cannot wait to make the ideas of this tireless team a reality. Here’s hoping my persuasive skills honed as debating captain haven’t gotten rusty since high school.

I’ve been trans for as long as I can remember – the further back I think, the more clues come to the surface – but I have been officially owning the term for just over two years. I am not completely out to my friends, but the confidence that Rainbow Youth gives me to be myself will see that change this year, I’m certain.

In my spare time, I write. Endlessly. I work on anything from freelance blogs to short stories to commissions, and do everything in my power to promote the work and creativity of the LGBTI community. I’m currently running a crowdfunding project with a friend of mine to help trans youth. I live with a cat and two dogs, and on the weekends get to return home to cuddle my fat chihuahua and take the occasional roadtrip with my mum.


Nathan Bramwell – Regional Coordinator Tauranga & Hauraki Area

(He/Him)

Hey folks, I am joining RY to serve the Bay of Plenty and Hauraki region. I have worked in the community with and alongside RY in my role as Youth Services Manager at Waikato Queer Youth for quite a few years. I am passionate about empowering gender and sexually diverse communities, promoting sustainability and laying the foundations for resilient youth.

I love to laugh and challenge myself, when I am not with my family or my mates you may find me collecting Lego, binge watching TV shows, reading, writing or trying to write, most likely playing on some console, always scrolling through Pinterest and wishing I was visiting the next beach or backroad campsite.

I am excited to join the RainbowYOUTH team and continuing to contribute to the community and fostering pathways a better future.


Thibaut Bouttier-Esprit – Regional Coordinator Otago

(He/Him)
Hi !

My name is Thibaut (pronounced tea-bow, or you can call me Tee), and I am the current regional coordinator for the region of Otago. I am really glad to have the chance of joining the RainbowYOUTH whānau and doing a job that I am happy to go to in the mornings. This job for me is more than doing stuff and getting money for it; it’s more like helping young people and provide them with the support I wished I would have got at their age.

I grew up in New-Caledonia; a tiny and warm island in the Pacific, in a house full of love and animals (like cats, dogs, bees, chickens…), and moved to New-Zealand by myself at the age of 18. Moving in this country really helped me to accept myself as a member of the LGBT+ community. I’ve always been interested in the LGBT+ community but never got the chance to know about it before moving in New-Zealand so moving here was a HUUUUGE change for me.

I currently live in the cold and grey Dunedin. I now study sociology and criminology at the University of Otago and focus my studies on social inequalities and sexuality-related crimes. If I am not studying or working, I am probably getting tattooed, doing arty stuff, re-decorating my room or shopping online to complete my collections of Alice in Wonderland related items.

And if you would like to summarise my personality in one motto, it would be a mix between “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten” or “Hakuna Matata.”

And by the way, if you ever wondered: No, you never get used to Dunedin’s weather.


 OUR EXECUTIVE BOARD

Sophie Sills – Co-chair

(She/Her)

Kia ora,

My name is Sophie and I am fortunate enough to be joining the RainbowYOUTH board this year.

My family hails from Dargaville, Auckland, Tauranga, and Scotland, but I have lived in Auckland my whole life. I am studying a Master of Arts in Gender and Critical Psychology at the University of Auckland, doing research about what it is like to be queer in sport. In the past, I have also done research with young people about rape culture, social media, and activism.

I am passionate about social justice and feminism, and when I am not reading about them at University, I am reading about them on Tumblr. I spend the rest of my free time playing football.

I’m excited to contribute to the work RainbowYOUTH does, and continue the hard work of the previous boards who came before me.


Taine Polkinghorne – Co-Chair

Taine_Web

(He/Him)

Kia ora, my name is Taine, and this is my fourth term on the RainbowYOUTH executive board. I am humbled to have been elected into this position by our membership until mid-2019.

I’m 26 years old, and have been undergoing a transition from female to male since about 2011. This organisation has been the axis of my life for many years, helping me to meet new people and learn so much about myself.

As co-chairs of the board, Sophie and I work closely with Duncan, our executive director, as well as each of the staff, and the six other board members you see here. We are in a privileged position to be able to do this mahi; it has always been a team effort, and we build on the work of others who came before us. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for RY.

My greatest passions in life are cats, books, and drinking tea (preferably all at once). With a background in biology, I’m interested in ecological conservation and sustainability. I’m now working towards a Master of Public Health at the University of Auckland, with an ultimate life goal of serving the queer and gender diverse community.

I’m happy to be contacted on [email protected] Otherwise, please introduce yourself if you see me around!


Hamish Tait – Treasurer Hamish_Web

(He/Him)

Hi, my name is Hamish, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be back on the RY board as Treasurer for the 2016/17 year.

As Treasurer I am responsible for having oversight of RY’s finances and contributing to making financial decisions for the organisation.

By day I work as a tax advisor at a large accounting firm. I graduated from the University of Auckland with law and commerce degrees in 2015, have been admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand and am currently undertaking my Chartered Accountant qualification.

In my spare time in enjoy driving my Subaru, seeing the sights of Auckland, and reading. I am Auckland born and bred and currently live in Forrest Hill.


Ryvre Thompson – Secretary

(He/Him) 

Kia ora! I’m Ryvre.
I’m honoured and excited to have been elected as Secretary for another year on the RainbowYOUTH Executive Board.
I’ve been involved with RainbowYOUTH for four years now, with a few different involvements in my time here, including facilitating, organising a RY event (the masquerade ball), and as a member of the Executive Board. I’ve been Secretary since November 2016 and have loved every moment in the role so far. As Secretary, my role is to minute the Executive Board meetings and send out the appropriate information to staff / board members ahead of and after each meeting to ensure things run smoothly.

Outside of RainbowYOUTH I study full time at the University of Auckland, hoping to advance in a role within the health care sector. I also work part time as a Community Support Worker.
In my spare time, I enjoy exploring New Zealand, working in my vegetable garden, and going to the gym.

I’m looking forward to continuing to contribute to the amazing work that the RainbowYOUTH team does, and seeing the organisation grow!


Lucy Cowie

(She/Her) 

Kia ora, my name is Lucy and I’m really excited to be joining the RainbowYOUTH board this year!

Back when I was first coming out, I came along to GQ and ended up meeting people who I still see all the time today. I’m looking forward to seeing another side of the organisation, and hopefully playing a role in supporting the staff and volunteers in the cool work they do.

I’m currently at the University of Auckland studying clinical psychology and tutoring stage one psychology. In my spare time (and when I want to avoid studying and marking), I watch trashy TV shows and attempt to play soccer. I’ve recently started converting a breast cancer screening truck into a tiny house, so I also spend a lot of time on youtube researching how to DIY things.

If you’d like to get in touch with me, flick me an email at [email protected] or say hi when you see me!


Laura Olsen

(She/Her) 

My name is Laura Ann and I am one of the 8 board members who want to make a difference in the RainbowYOUTH community.
I am a Youth Programmes CoOrdinator by day at Youthtown Inc and a karaoke amateur by night.
I like to go out and spread my social butterfly wings on the weekends but I also love to play  a part of an alternate universe and follow the Assasin’s Creed. (or any fantasy PS4 games really…)
I live out west with my girlfriend and two dogs and five cats, I am a fan of animals as you can tell.
I am a big believer in this whakatauki:
“He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.”
This proverb is partially the reason why I wanted to be part of RainbowYOUTH’s executive board because of the importance of people and identities within this community.


Bella Simpson

(She/Her) 

Kia ora, my name is Bella.

I’m a trans woman who loves the finer things in life such as vegan chicken nuggets, opera and crystal wine glasses. I also love working for and with the LGBTI community; in particular the trans community. I’ve been doing a number of volunteer projects for 10 years now and am really excited to be working with Rainbow Youth.

I’ve lived in and around Wellington most of my life and am proud to still call Wellington home. I’ve had a great time volunteering in Wellington, but am excited and ready to spread my knowledge tentacles further up north and help create a more wide spread difference to the lives of our young LGBTI community.


Cinnamon Lindsay

(She/Her)

Kia ora whānau!

My name is Cinnamon and I have recently joined the RainbowYOUTH board! I am so excited to be a part of this and can’t wait to get more involved in our communities!

I am Ngāti Whatua, Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi and Pākehā. I was born in Auckland but spent a lot of my life moving around New Zealand. I’ve lived between the North and South Island and Australia, going to a new school every couple years!

I’m currently studying at the University of Auckland doing my Masters in Kaupapa Māori and Mana Wahine methodologies. I’m passionate about community interventions and hope to spend my career doing research in the health and education sectors. I am also a tuakana mentor and psychology tutor at the university. In my spare time I love to find different walking tracks and lookouts, eat overpriced brunches and lip sync to songs that are well out of my vocal range.

If you’d like to get in touch with me about anything, feel free to email me at [email protected]


 OUR EXECUTIVE ADVISORS

Nick Laing

(He/him)

I am really excited to have the opportunity to be part of the RY board in an adviser role. I am passionate about young people and I think that the work that RY does to provide safe spaces for young people to be themselves, and to develop and grow is awesome.

I trained as a social worker and have worked in the health sector since, mostly in leadership roles for the past ten years. I’m currently General Manager Operations at New Zealand AIDS Foundation.

I’m from Auckland and live with my husband and our two griffons. If you see me round please say hi or you can email me on [email protected]


Toni ReidTR

(They/Them)

Hey!

I’m Tones and I’m super proud to be invited to be part of the governance board in an advisory role. 

The for youth,by youth philosophy has echoed through my mind since I first started attending RY groups 10+ years ago. Since then I’ve kept that philosophy close to me as I went on to train as an Occupational Therapist then took on various roles ranging from clinician, coach and team leader in mental health services and addiction services. 

I’m currently in the fortunate situation where I’m able to apply all my learnings through my experience with Rainbow Youth (as a facilitator, board member and service user) and my time in mental health & addictions in my day job at Lifehackhq as Programme Development Lead. 

You can get in touch with me via email: toni.reid@ry.org.nz