Disability Leadership Group

The Disability Leadership Group brought together by Life Unlimited brings a valuable mix of expertise, lived experience and fresh thinking to help inform the future direction of the organisation and the services it delivers.

Members of the nine-person group have experience covering a range of disabilities, geographic locations and cultural backgrounds. Members include people either living with a disability themselves or supporting immediate whānau with disabilities. Read more about the role of Life Unlimited’s Disability Leadership Group.

Timothy Folkema – Hamilton

Timothy Folkema

I opened myself to the world in an Altogether Autism Journal article. I own my struggle, but it is by no means unique to me; I haven’t met a peer yet who has not experienced some level of discrimination or difficulty in simply being them. We all have stories to tell. We can all relate.

Serving my people has been my vocation and passion for more than 10 years, leading to many wonderful collaborative efforts and achievements. Over the past five years I have presented workshops on Te Ao Whaitakiwātanga, The Autistic World; including as a part of iNDx in Dunedin 2019. In late 2018, alongside the upper-North Island autistic arts community, I had the privilege of curating an exhibition called INFINITY. We had over 10 entries in one day when the word got out, leading to a full show at the end of the year. Our ethos was, and is, simple; we are artists, creators, and want to be seen as such. We continue to defy the allistic view of us through our creative outlets.

In 2013-16 I had the fun experience of working alongside Hamilton City Council as a youth disability advisor with the Youth Council Advisory Panel; sharing the youth disability voice directly with Council. Presently, I am a board member of Voices From The Spectrum Charitable Trust, a charity set up by and for autistic adults who do not require supervisory care. Voices is independently/community funded and supported by a 100% autistic board. I also run workshops and presentations for corporate, clinical, non-profit and community groups.

When I’m not running around advocating alongside our disability community, I make music, DJ, collect things, design graphix, and study.

Tim is a member of the Altogether Autism Consumer Reference Group.

Mā mātou anō mātou e kōrero e hoa mā!

Noho ora mai.

Portrait drawing courtesy of Ammon Matthews Art.

John McIntosh MNZM – Hamilton

John McIntosh

John McIntosh

John has a long association with Life Unlimited, joining the organisation in 2003 as business manager to oversee the development and expansion of Life Unlimited stores.

Prior to joining Life Unlimited, John worked as regional manager for employment service Workbridge, following a long career working in the dairy and agricultural industries.

Since 2014, John has held the role of community liaison for Life Unlimited with the aim of promoting the work of the charitable trust and advocating for people with disability and the elderly. He also helps deliver Life Unlimited’s Disability Start workshops.

John is actively involved in a number of disability organisations and committees, including Disabled Person’s Assembly (Waikato Branch), Health & Disability Expo Trust, Waikato DHB community and public health advisory committee and Hamilton City Council disability advisory group. His contribution to the disability community was recently recognised by Waikato District Health Board with the Paul Keesing Award.

With one in four New Zealanders impacted by disability, John feels disabled people are underrepresented in leadership roles. He accepted a place in the Disabled Leadership Group with the aim of ensuring Life Unlimited has the voice of disabled people at its heart.

John lives in Hamilton with wife Marilyn and enjoys spending time with family. In January 2021 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II awarded John a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) honour for his services to disability.

Read more about John’s life growing up with scoliosis.

Genevieve McLachlan MNZM – Wellington

Woman in purple shirt seated in a wheelchair

Genevieve McLachlan

Genevieve grew up with cerebral palsy and a vision impairment, so she understands the difficulties faced by people with multiple health issues. She says her commitment to the community is “changing people’s lives”.

Genevieve started her business, Adaptive Technology Solutions, 11 years ago to provide a service she saw was lacking. It provides flexible technology solutions for people who struggle to use their computer, read print or who may prefer dictating rather than typing by offering assessments, training and support.

In 2011 she won the Her Business Most Inspirational Role Model and in 2012 was a finalist in the Westpac Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce Business Awards, Leadership Award. In 2014 Genevieve won three categories in The David Awards: Most Outstanding Triumph over Adversity; Most Community Minded Business and the Solo Meo Award. Last year she was a finalist in the Technology Valley Awards, Most Outstanding Individual category and a finalist in the Attitude Awards, Entrepreneur category.  She was also named in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to People with Disabilities.

Along with other professional commitments, she is also involved in the My Life My Way collective which aims to make the Hutt Valley a place where people with disabilities live their lives well, and as they choose, within their community.

Read about Genevieve’s work as an advocate and entrepreneur.

Vaughan Mikkelson – Hamilton

Vaughan Mikkelson

Vaughan has an extensive knowledge of the health and disability sector through advisory work ranging from Enabling Good Lives Waikato to Hamilton City Council’s Access Advisory Group. Through these experiences he has gained valuable and extensive knowledge on how the health and disability system currently operates and how it may be transformed.

Vaughan has a passion for advocating for disability rights and inclusion. He has presented work base trainings, seminars and lectures around the social model of disability and health through the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

This interest has been developed through obtaining his Masters in Political Science, Masters in Philosophy, Bachelor in Applied Communications, and a Post Graduate Diploma in International Relations.

Currently he is studying a Graduate Diploma in Psychology part-time at The University of Waikato.

Vaughan comes from a rugby loving family. He is an avid cricket follower. He enjoys reading, following foreign affairs and a good coffee. He is a Life Unlimited trustee.

Hine Rehua (Sandra) – Gisborne

Troy Robertson – Hamilton

Peter Stidholph – Hamilton

Anne Wilkinson – Hamilton

Disabled Leadership Group member Anne Wilkinson

Anne Wilkinson

Anne’s involvement in the sector began over 30 years ago as a parent. She has a background of working with families and is a former CEO of Parent to Parent New Zealand, where she worked for over 25 years.

Over this time, in partnership with Life Unlimited, Anne was integral in the development Altogether Autism, and in a relationship with Standards and Monitoring Services (SAMS), assisted in the set-up of Care Matters.

Anne has been involved with Enabling Good Lives since 2011, and is currently serving on the National Leadership Group and the Waikato Leadership Group. The Enabling Good Lives approach, where individuals and their families have control over their lives, deciding what their good life will look like and how their government funding will be used, is based on a set of principles and is the foundation of System Transformation.

Anne is a member of the SAMS Board and is involved in an international family leadership initiative.

She believes that disabled people have the same rights as others to be valued citizens and to have control in their lives and feels that families are an integral part in achieving this.

Anne is passionate about leadership and excited to be a family member of the Life Unlimited Disability Leadership Group, supporting these values within the organisation and the wider community.