Our Board is a dedicated team of volunteers who provide support and guidance.

They have been chosen for their wide range of skills, experience and commitment to START and its governance. They provide strategic direction and oversight to the START team together with wider support for the Mission of START.

Eric Allan – Board Chair

Eric’s many years of involvement in social services has included governance and leadership roles in a wide range of community social services. He also has extensive management and direct service provision experience. As an adult who lives with a stutter and who has benefited from the support of speech language therapists at START, he profoundly supports the contribution that START makes to enable a high quality specialist service for people of all ages who stutter. Eric joined the START Board at the beginning of 2018 and has been the Chair of the Board since that time.


Anita Hayhoe

Anita joined the Board in 2018 with interests in singing and working with the voice, as well as in governance, and as a member of the Institute of Directors. As the Marketing Manager in her current role at an investment firm, she plans global campaigns across three offices and 140 countries. As a Board member, she feels privileged to support the team who make therapy and support available for people who stutter and thereby enable them to reach their potential.


Tony McAlwee

For many years Tony held senior executive roles with two major players in the civil construction industry. While still running his own commercial consultancy business in Auckland, Tony has undertaken a permanent role supporting the supply chain requirements of a New Zealand owned business, through this period of global disruption. He’s a member of the Institute of Directors and a Director of a marine related business. The opportunity to be a part of the START team is a privilege, as an organisation that provides real help to real people in need. Tony joined the START Board at the beginning of 2018 and thoroughly enjoys being part of an active and highly functional team.

Geoff Cardale

As a young man, Geoff was one of the founding trustees of START and re-joined the Board in May 2019. He has both financial, management experience across service and manufacturing industries, and he recently completed his MBA. Geoff is a full member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and Governance NZ. He has returned to the START Board to use and share his own life experiences to make a difference for young people who stutter.

Rachael Joel

Rachael’s passion for and expertise in effective communication is a natural fit for START. She is delighted to join the Board and contribute to our mission. Rachael is a senior strategic communications professional who works with Fortune 500 companies, listed companies, not-for-profits and fast-growing businesses in established and emerging sectors. She is a member of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand as well as the Institute of Directors New Zealand. Rachael joined the Board in May 2021.

Dean Cook

Dean is delighted to return to the board after three years away. Having stuttered since primary school, Dean’s first interaction with START was as a student in the early 90s when he did an intensive fluency course. Being given the tools to control his speech was life changing. From there, Dean had the confidence to complete his university studies and pursue his chosen career in marketing. Dean has held GM Marketing Executive roles across some of NZ’s largest retail chains for the past 15 years and previously served on the START board from 2006 to 2019. The Board is very pleased to have a much valued Board member back on the Board.

Matthew Hill

Matthew is pleased to be a new member of the START board. After university, Matthew began his career as a lawyer in a national law firm where he now specialises in local government and public law. Matthew has in the past benefited from the services offered by START and is passionate about the work it undertakes to help people who stutter and their families. Through his involvement on the board, Matthew hopes that he is able to make a valuable contribution to the START community and, thereby, to the lives of people who stutter.

Declan O’Donnell

Declan’s professional background includes many years working with vulnerable children and families. From this he has learnt the critical importance of quality and accessible services for people who stutter, preferably as soon as difficulties become evident. As a young person who stuttered he and his parents found a lack of effective services at that time. Accordingly he values the services of START greatly and is pleased to support it from his Board role.

Recent Past Board Members:


Nigel Whiteman

Nigel was involved in the governance of START since its inception. This interest began with his involvement in a support group for teenagers who stutter, and which has evolved into the current professional specialist organisation providing treatment for people who stutter of all ages throughout New Zealand. Nigel has a business background and enthusiasm for the benefits of stuttering treatment which combined in allowing his ongoing contribution to the START story. Nigel retired from the START Board at the beginning of 2022 and leaves a legacy of some 27 years involvement with START. Warmly appreciated by the Board and Executive Director, in September 2020, Nigel was presented with a plaque and toki (adze) pounamu to acknowledge his then 25 years of care, concern and action for people who stutter.


Craig Vinton

Craig has worked in a specialist engineering sector for over 20 years with a bias towards general business management. He is a current, affiliated member of the NZ Institute of Directors, where he is actively involved in continuous professional development towards best practice organisational governance. Craig joined the START Board at the beginning of 2018 with a desire to work hard and make a meaningful contribution to an organisation that he feels has a tremendous positive impact on supporting those who stutter and their families. Craig stepped down from the START Board near the end of 2021 but continues to support START’s life changing work.


Jeremy Sutton

Jeremy is a senior family lawyer in Auckland. He is a Lawyer for Child in the Family Court and is married with three children. Jeremy and members of his family have had challenges with stuttering. Jeremy has been a board member of Relationship Services and the Manukau Community Law Centre. He is passionate about helping disadvantaged youth and children communicate. Jeremy was part of the START Board from the beginning of 2018 to the end of 2020 and contributed with both his legal background and personal experiences. He remains committed to START and its mission.

Lyn Fox

Lyn Fox, the Chief Executive of Parnell Community Trust since 2015, works with the Trust’s Board and team of up to 90 staff to provide services for the community. She has 20 years business experience and has held executive positions with financial responsibility in the childcare, fashion, and building industries. Lyn has a particular interest in developing and supporting early childhood education and welfare which brought her to the START Board in 2018. While retiring from the Board at the end of 2019 Lyn remains a strong supporter of START and its vital contributions to our community.