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Spark Foundation announces new Trustees, Chair

Spark’s charitable arm, Spark Foundation, is delighted to announce the appointment of three new Trustees: Lisa Paraku, Lisa Barwell and Kelly Baxter. 


The new Trustees join the five existing Trustees on the Foundation Board: media personality, author and Te Reo advocate Stacey Morrison; Chief Transformation Officer at Optus Australia Matt Crockett; Neighbourly founder Casey Eden; Spark “People’s Champion” (employee representative) Caleb Watson; and Spark senior executive Andrew Pirie. Andrew has also been appointed Chair, succeeding Nick Leggett who recently resigned from the Board due to pressure of other business interests.


Since Spark Foundation was established seven years ago, the Board of Trustees has comprised a mix of Spark people and external Trustees from the wider community. As well as supporting worthwhile community causes with funding, the Foundation aims to harness Spark’s people and a range of other business resources for social good.  It also manages on behalf of Spark employee social engagement programmes such as volunteering and payroll giving. 


The three new Trustees are all from Spark, reflecting a desire to amplify the positive impact of Foundation activities well beyond the funding of external projects by leveraging of Spark’s wider resources.


Lisa Paraku is the Business Manager, Māori for Spark, based in Wellington.  Lisa hails from Hauraki, and she is a proud wife and mum to six blended kids of Māori, Pākēha, German and Chinese descent.  Her working career has seen roles in hospitality, tertiary education, health as well as ICT.  Lisa has a strong passion for volunteer work, especially in the areas of health, education and the wellbeing of Māori (last year she took a sabbatical from Spark to pursue community work, including promoting Spark Jump among Māori communities).  Lisa serves on multiple committees and trusts, on behalf of government, iwi and community interests.  


Lisa Barwell is re-joining the Foundation Board of Trustees after previously serving as the employee People’s Champion representative from 2015 – 2017.  In her day job, Lisa leads our Business Contact Centre team based in Christchurch. Outside of work, she is a passionate supporter of the Breast Cancer Foundation and the annual Pink Ribbon Appeal day. 


Kelly Baxter is Senior Legal Counsel at Spark, based in Auckland.  She has worked on key strategic matters for Spark that have delivered pioneering innovation in the mobile and sports content markets, including advising on Spark’s bid for New Zealand broadcast rights for Rugby World Cup 2019.  Prior to joining Spark in 2017, Kelly worked with global retailer Tesco in the UK, where she also completed post-graduate study at the University of Oxford. Kelly has been active in the pro-bono legal space, including spearheading Tesco’s Community Law Centre partnership. 


Andrew Pirie has been on the Spark Foundation Board for almost six years and leads Spark’s Corporate Relations unit. Andrew is one of New Zealand's most experienced communications professionals with an extensive international background. He returned to New Zealand in 2008 after more than a decade overseas as Asia Pacific head for Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s biggest PR consulting firms. Prior to joining Spark in 2012, he acted as an advisor for major New Zealand companies including Fonterra and Auckland Airport. 


New Chair Andrew Pirie says the Board of Trustee changes come at an exciting period for the Foundation.


“We have just announced new partnerships (with 21CSkills Lab, Code Club Aotearoa and Digital Natives Academy) which seek to build among New Zealand children the skills and capabilities needed to succeed in a digital world.  Our three new Trustees bring a diversity of skills, experience and perspectives which will be extremely valuable as we move forward.”

Kate Thomas.jpg

Kate Thomas

Lead, Spark Foundation
+64 21 504 032 |

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