Our People


Dr. Rod Watts

BA, MASW, PhD Psychiatry - Board Chair

Dr. Rod Watts

Rod is the Executive Officer of the Northern Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church, a role he took up mid 2017 after over ten years as CEO of Presbyterian Support Northern. Originally from Australia, Rod specialised in major trauma and palliative care. In New Zealand Rod has held a number of roles in DHB management and in central government with the Ministry of Health. 

La-Verne King

Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa, Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Kahungunu. LLB - Deputy Board Chair

La-Verne King

La-Verne was a founding partner of law firm King Alofivae Malosi based in Auckland which assisted in the growth and development of many Maori and Pasefika women lawyers.  In 2006, La-Verne returned to the Far North with her whānau where she has established Doubtless Bay Law Limited. La-Verne continues to practice in the Youth and Family Courts and has an abiding interest in ensuring the law is applied in a way that best promotes the needs of children and young people.

Patrick Baker

CA, MEng, BBus, Grad Dip Prof Acctg - Chair of the Finance Sub-Committee

Patrick Baker

Patrick is a Chartered Accountant who has held senior financial management roles in major global and New Zealand companies. He is currently Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary of NIWA, a government owned Crown Research Institute. Previous governance roles have included serving as director and board chair of Variety, the Children’s Charity, and he is a chartered member of the Institute of Directors.                                                                                      

Dr. Heather McDowell

BA, MA (Hons), PGDipClinPsych, PhD (Psychology)

Dr. Heather McDowell

Heather is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist with the Consult Liaison Team at Starship Children’s Hospital. She has been a senior university lecturer and continues to be involved in research allied with her clinical work. Heather has worked with a number of government agencies and has a strong focus on the emotional and physical well-being of children, young people and their whānau.

Chris Harris

BSc, Dip Ed, MA, Grad Dip Prof Mgmt

Chris Harris

Chris has worked extensively in the mental health and disability sectors in both the DHB and NGO environments. His last formal role was Chief Executive for Spectrum Care Trust Board and he now works as a consultant from his home in Raglan.

Tony Kake

Ngāti Hau, Ngā Puhi Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Whawhaakia, Waikato Tainui

Tony Kake

Tony has over twenty years’ experience working within Local and Central Government holding management, strategic and funding portfolios. He is passionate about advancing the interests of Maori within Tāmaki Makaurau, serving on Auckland Council’s Independent Māori Statutory Board and contributing to the local community as CEO of Papakura Marae. He is driven by values of Manaakitanga (high standards), Whanaungatanga (high morale) and Rangatiratanga (credible leadership).

Dr Julia Ioane

Julia is Samoan and trained as a clinical psychologist specialising in Family and Youth Court matters with a particular focus on childhood trauma, youth forensic and violence.  She has an extensive career having worked at the Ministry of Education, Safe Network, Regional Forensic Youth Service and Youth Horizons, as well as managing her own private practice. Julia is a lecturer at AUT in psychology and her main research interests are with children and youth at risk; and Pasifika epistemology and practice.


MBA - Chief Executive / Kaiwhakahaere

Marion Heeney

Marion is very experienced in the sector and is a passionate advocate for young people. Her career experience has involved senior leadership roles for a number of organisations including Child Youth and Family (Regional Director – Northern and Te Tai Tokerau), Presbyterian Support Northern (GM Family Works), and Waitemata and Counties Manukau DHBs (GM Women’s Health). She has also worked in the finance sector and completed an MBA from Auckland University. Marion is on the Board of the Teaching Family Association and is a member of the Institute of Directors.

Ngāti Patupō, Ngāti Mahanga, Ngāti Mahuta - Kaumātua

Pita Te Ngaru

Pita is experienced in working with young offenders and mentoring young Māori in general. He is an experienced Te Reo Māori teacher, trainer and facilitator. Pita joined Youth Horizons to be the Kaumātua of the Te Hurihanga programme in the Waikato, and is the national Kaumātua of Youth Horizons, some thirteen years later. He has been an integral part of bringing Youth Horizons on a bicultural journey, and hosts many noho marae throughout the year with our different programmes, services and staff groups around the country. 

CA, MBA (Dist) – Chief Financial and Funding Officer

Fiona Guy

Fiona is a Chartered Accountant with experience in the professional services, chartered accounting and finance sectors. During her career, she has successfully led a wide range of strategic initiatives and Corporate Services teams including Finance, IT, HR and Knowledge and Information Services. In addition to her CFFO role, Fiona acts as Secretary to the Board of Trustees. Fiona is also on the National Executive for Social Service Providers Aotearoa.        

MSc (Hons), PGDipClinPsych, MNZCCP – Director of Business Development and Implementation

Michael Williams

Prior to joining Youth Horizons in 2008, Michael worked as a Clinical Psychologist for an Auckland District Health Board psychotherapy service. Starting as Youth Horizons’ Clinical Director he played a key role in the implementation and evaluation of evidenced-based interventions such as Functional Family Therapy (FFT) and Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO). In 2013 Michael stepped into a national operations role, followed in 2018 by his appointment to his current role. In this capacity he works on the roll-out of new services within an implementation science framework. His aim is to assist staff to deliver high quality evidence-based interventions that measurably improve the lives of at-risk children and young people.

MSc (Criminological Psychology) - Clinical Director

Louisa Webster

Louisa is an experienced psychologist, having worked in practitioner and leadership roles in the UK and New Zealand. Louisa specialises in the psychological assessment and evidence based treatment of violence and offending behaviour and has designed and written structured therapeutic interventions specifically tailored to young people. As Clinical Director, Louisa aims to ensure that Youth Horizons continues to deliver excellence in clinical practice whilst maintaining a child-focused approach.

BA (Hons), PG Dip Counselling - Director of Operations Midlands, Central and Southern

Neil Brand

Neil has a background in Narrative Counselling and has extensive experience working with young people and families in New Zealand. Prior to joining YH, Neil was the Operations Manager for a large NGO delivering services across New Zealand supporting families affected by family violence. Before taking on the his current Director of Operations role, Neil oversaw the delivery of our services in West Auckland in his role as Operations Manager for Youth Service West.