Our People

Our compassionate, caring and skilled staff provide specialised support to you, your whānau and your communities to move from surviving to thriving. 


We believe you and we are here to listen.

Chief Executive

Photo of Sue Wood, Chief Executive

Sue Wood

Sue joins us from a large retirement village in Lower Hutt where she was the Manager to 120 staff. She is passionate about providing support to a wide range of people within the Wellington community and has over 25 years’ experience as a nurse. She spent 10 of those years working in mental health, as well as supporting young women suffering from anorexia and bulimia.


More recently, Sue has worked in management at IHC/Idea Services, advocating for people with intellectual disabilities. She also volunteered for 15 years as a counsellor in the community.


She is married with 4 adult children and grandchildren and lives in the Hutt Valley. 

Board Members

Sara Passmore: Board Chair

Sara has 15+ year's experience in project and programme management and 10+ year's experience in Senior Management in the charity and NFP sector.

In 2018 she completed a Masters of Business Administration from Victoria University of Wellington. Her research area focused on how to support Māori to maintain their legal connection to the whenua across generations. Sara also has a Bachelor’s of Education and a Bachelor’s of English Literature.

Sara is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. a member of the Royal Society of New Zealand, and member of the Community Governance Steering Group.

Sara's current governance roles include treasurer of Humanists NZ, board member for Wellington Women’s House, the Guild of Agriculture Journalists and Communicators, and vice-president of the Rationalist and Humanist Association of New Zealand.

Photo of Sara Passmore, Board Member
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Kathy Mansell: Board Member

Kathy has been a public servant for just over 40 years working in a variety of areas including housing, primary industries and vulnerable children.


Kathy is currently a Deputy Chief Executive at Land Information New Zealand where she leads the Property Rights Group who are responsible for processing all property transactions in New Zealand.


Kathy has tribal affiliation to Tuhoe. Kathy is a former client of Help and has a strong desire as a Board Member to be a part of realising the organisations mission.

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Paula Martin: Board Member

Paula has over 30 years’ experience in public policy roles including senior management, strategy, policy analysis, budget processes, research and evaluation, working in a range of settings such as central government, District Health Boards, other Crown Entities, academia, inquiries and reviews, and non-government organisations.  

Leadership roles have included Group Manager, Sector and Services Policy at the Ministry of Health, Acting Deputy Secretary (Evaluation) at the Ministry of Defence, and Director of Strategy at the Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner. She worked on the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction Services and most recently was the Assistant Auditor-General, Strategy and Communications. She is now an independent consultant.

Paula was previously on the Board of Kidney Health New Zealand and is currently a Board member of the New Zealand Blood and Organ Service. She holds a MA (Applied) in Social Science Research and a PhD in Public Policy, which focused on barriers to living donor kidney transplantation in New Zealand.

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Kevin Tso: Board Member 

Kevin has enjoyed a career spanning the corporate and NGO sectors.  He is currently the CE of Victim Support and previously held a senior management position at the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa. Prior to that he was the Chief Executive of London Bookshops in New Zealand and has held financial management roles.  


Kevin is passionate about contributing to the well-being of our New Zealand communities, and the quality of the environment of Aotearoa. 


Penny Cooper: Board Member

Penny's family has been settled in Central Otago and Southland for four generations. She enjoyed growing up in the regions before moving to Wellington as a graduate.

Her early career was in law and accounting, where she worked as a tax consultant in a professional services firm. From there she branched out into programme management and now has a portfolio career where most of her energy is invested in leading change initiatives for mainly public sector clients. She has a keen interest in her local community and enjoys our beautiful outdoor environment with family and friends.


Penny chose to support HELP as it offers something that matters for our community. The organisation is driven by the passion of very committed people and she considers herself fortunate to be able to play a small part in supporting it. Penny views being involved as a Board Member a privilege and is motivated to build on the work of many others to see HELP continue to strengthen as an organisation.


As a Board Member, Penny brings her knowledge and experience as a Chartered Member of the Institute of Directors, alongside Transformation, Governance and Risk experience. In a world that often lacks social cohesion, her focus is on asking questions and initiating conversations that grow connection and awareness.


Caroline Ash-Rees: Board Member

Caroline brings experience working in both the Public and Private Sector to the HELP Board. She currently works in a strategic change programme based at Ara Poutama Aotearoa, working across the justice and social sectors, with the judiciary and iwi partners. An engagement specialist, she has been involved in a number of strategic change programmes across the public and private sector in the health, housing, social and justice sectors. Caroline also brings experience in internal audit and governance, risk and compliance.

Caroline hail's from Aotearoa, and has spent 15 years living overseas. She has whakapapa connections to Ngā Ruahinerangi and Taranaki Iwi and is deeply passionate about bringing her māoritanga to her personal and professional life. With a keen focus on working to create meaningful impact, Caroline believes in leading with empathy, ingenuity and a human centered kaupapa. Caroline is deeply passionate about supporting survivors of sexual abuse and realising our organisations mission.