Life Unlimited Board of Trustees
Karen Coutts, Chair
Karen was appointed chair in June 2021. She has had a life-time involvement in the disability sector firstly through her mother Margaret Coutts who lost her hearing from scarlet fever as a child.
She worked for several years in the UK disability sector and back in New Zealand, Karen led and delivered successful transformations of services, large organisations, sector and systems through changes in priorities, purpose and ethos, use of technology innovation and efficient shift of resources.
In her role as principal advisor for Te Puni Kōkiri, the Government’s principal advisor on Māori outcomes, she focused on supporting Māori-led approaches with a strong response to Māori economic development.
Karen has been a member of the New Zealand Parole Board since November 2019 and Te Rūnanga o Moeraki representative on Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the leadership body for Ngāi Tahu since 2016. Read more.
Michelle Bentham, Trustee
Michelle lives in Auckland where she has worked as a business consultant and advisor for almost 20 years.
She has strong commercial business experience from a range of industries specialising in strategic development, performance improvement and focusing on long term objectives and sustainability. She also offers 15 years of successful business ownership experience, which provides practical expertise and enables her to have a broad understanding and empathy of all stakeholders.
Michelle is new to the disability sector but she has had an immediate family member experience the difficulty navigating through some of the organisations so she has a drive to make this easier and more accessible.
Michelle recently completed a Masters of Business Administration (with Distinction). She is a member of the Institute of Directors and holds a Diploma in Business Management.
Stuart Campbell, Trustee
Stuart has many years of experience in the disability sector evolving from supporting his aunt Maree who was born with sight and other disabilities. He is currently also a Trustee of Hohepa Homes and had a significant role in the establishment and operations of similar smaller Trusts in Feilding, Levin and Wanganui. For many years he worked with SAMS, evaluating disability service providers throughout the country.
Stuart lives in the Manawatu District. He is a Chartered Accountant, a farmer and Chair of the Audit and Risk committee of the Manawatu District Council.
Mary Cave-Palmer, Trustee
Mary is an experienced business adviser and director with skills including governance, business planning and analysis, coaching, and education.
Mary has experienced corporate governance on both sides of the board table in a variety of industries. She’s held senior management and/or governance roles with district health boards, Crown Research Institutes, Local Government-owned commercial companies, Tertiary Education Institutes and Government departments. In 2017 Mary completed 15 years on the Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec) board, including five years as chair.
She has worked in tertiary education, conservation, manufacturing, business consulting, civil construction, quarrying, waste management, public health services and scientific research. She currently works at the Department of Conservation, providing financial advice and business support for many “green” investment initiatives that are primarily for environmental and social impact.
She is a Chartered Member of Institute of Directors NZ, a Fellow of Chartered Accountants Australia & NZ, and a Fellow of Corporate Governance NZ.
Outside of work Mary is an active member of the Riverlea Environmental Society, and a member of the Waikato Rivertones Chorus which raises funds for many charitable organisations in the Waikato.
Vaughan Mikkelson, Trustee
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.
Gary Williams, Trustee
Gary is Ngati Porou and lives in Christchurch. He is particularly interested in issues for disabled people, especially disabled Māori; leadership development and training; the rights of disabled people; and effective organisational governance and management.
He was involved in the development of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and has very clear ideas about what it means and how it should be implemented.
Gary was the CEO of the Disabled Persons Assembly for 11 years. Before that, he worked as a specialist software developer for the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences.
Gary was on the AccessAbility Board from 2010.
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