The Advisory Group of Starfish fulfill a vital role in supporting the management and delivery of the service, offering the managing director, Sara Bright, a wealth of knowledge, encouragement and support. The Advisory Group offers a robust influence on the clinical direction of Starfish, with each member offering a distinct but vital input into service delivery.
Bella Atkins is a passionate and experienced consultant who is currently undertaking her Masters in Education Policy. Bella commenced her career with a Bachelor of Business Studies (Economics) and after spending ten years in senior finance and analyst roles across large corporate companies, she re-evaluated her career path, and completed her Post Grad Diploma in Teaching.
Bella is passionate about working with young Maori and also holds a Te Tohu Mohiotanga (Diploma in Maori). After a year and a half of working in a decile 1a school in Otara in Auckland, Bella sighted the need for change in helping vulnerable children escape the long tail of underachievement. Underpinning her pedagogy is creating respectful relationships and effective partnerships through Whakawhanaungatanga and building a collaborative learning community. Bella’s passion and understanding of the educational environment, and her in-depth experience in the financial field is a great asset to Starfish.
Donna Poynton has worked in the Social Services sector for a number of years, most recently being appointed as the Director of the Children’s Team, for the Eastern Bay of Plenty. She has held positions as a Clinical Manager, Counsellor, Family Therapist, Domestic Violence Supervisor and Trainer, and is a member of New Zealand Association of Counsellors. Donna is of Ngati Pikiao, Ngaiterangi and Ngati Makino descent, and is currently the Chairperson on the Board of Trustees for Te Runanga o Ngati Pikiao Trust.
Donna started her career with a BA in Counselling, progressing to complete a Post Grad qualification in Family Therapies & Systems, and is currently undertaking her Masters in Indigenous Studies. Donna is extremely passionate about the delivery of culturally appropriate social services to Maori, and this passion will be reflected in her advisory role with the Starfish Project. Her knowledge and understanding of counselling therapies, combined with her competencies in cultural supervision and guidance, is an extremely important part of her support for Starfish Project.
Darren Renau is a registered Social Worker and has worked in the child protection field for more than 15 years in practice, advisory, leadership and management positions. In recognition of his experience, Darren has been a member of high and complex plan approval panels, reviewing the most complex cases in the country to ensure the plans will meet the needs of the young people.
Darren is a strong lateral thinker and this inspires imaginative, innovative and original ideas. He takes great delight in reducing the complex to the simple, the unclear to the clear, and the cumbersome to the efficient. Darren’s insight and knowledge of the social issues and complexities that families face in our community is instrumental to the development of the Starfish Project.