The Aviva Team

Our Board

Abby Suszko, Chair

Board member since: December 2015

Chair since: June 2019

Abby is originally from Dunedin, where she undertook her studies at the University of Otago, and she currently works at the University of Canterbury. There she is a Kaiārahi Māori in the Office of the Assistant Vice-Chancellor and works to support Māori development and bicultural competence and confidence through strategic institutional change.

Her commitment to cultural integrity and equity has encouraged her to become an active member of the Rāpaki Branch of the Māori Women’s Welfare League. She speaks te reo and possesses an understanding of te Ao Māori as well as tikangaMāori and State law, and continues to undertake research projects concerning Indigenous Peoples and the recognition and protection of their rights.

Abby holds a Doctor of Philosophy, a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in Māori Studies and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Otago. She is also a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand.
Abby Suszko, Chair

Peter Cody, Treasurer

Board member since: September 2015

Treasurer since February 2016

Peter is an accountant and has been a partner in PwC since July 2014. Prior to this, he was a Director of the company, and previously worked in finance roles at Williams Hotel Group and Reachmedia NZ Limited.

Peter is a member of the New Zealand Australia Institute of Chartered Accountants and the College of Chartered Accountants. He has also supported the governance functions of the Canterbury Development Corporation Amplifier Program and Cynter Investments Limited.
Peter Cody, Treasurer

Michelle Cathcart

Board member since: December 2017

Michelle hails from Northland. Having gained experience working in some large corporates such as Air New Zealand and Fuji Xerox whilst in Auckland, in 2009 Michelle and her family made the decision to relocate to Christchurch.

Michelle has worked for Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu since 2011 and is currently employed as General Manager - Health, Safety and Sustainability, for Ngāi Tahu
Farming.

Michelle graduated from Massey University, Auckland Campus with an MBA.

In her spare time Michelle enjoys spending time with her partner Richard and Thomas, their seven year-old son. They love nothing more than walking the Bridle Path over to Lyttleton.
Michelle Cathcart

Monica Davis

Board member since: December 2017

Audit and Risk Committee member

Monica has a BA/LLB from the University of Auckland and brings to Aviva 30 years’ experience in employment relations and human resources gained in a variety of industries in Australia and New Zealand. She has extensive experience as an executive in retailing and infrastructure, and also 15 years superannuation trustee experience in Australia and New Zealand.

In addition to her role on Aviva’s Board, Monica is Chair of the Avonside Girls High School Board, and is a lay member on the New Zealand Psychologists’ Board.
Monica Davis

Marian Johnson

Board member since: November 2019

Marian Johnson is Chief Awesome Officer at Ministry of Awesome. She is an experienced senior executive with 20 years experience developing and executing marketing and business growth strategies for software and edutech startups in NZ as well as with entertainment multinationals Universal Studios and Discovery Networks in the US and Europe. She is passionate about the startup and innovation ecosystem in Canterbury and Canterbury's future as a city of exploration and opportunity.
Marian Johnson

Nathan Latimer

Board member since: November 2013

Nathan works for Australasian wealth management firm JBWere and has a background in Finance, Banking and Risk Management.

He holds a BCom from Canterbury University majoring in Business Administration (Marketing), an NZX Diploma (Investment Management), and is an ASX Accredited Derivatives Adviser.

Nathan and wife Rebecca are raising three young boys and have strong ties to the local community. Nathan is a member of the local branch of the Institute of Directors and has a keen interest in Governance, having completed the Institute of Directors ‘Governance Essentials’ course. Nathan is a member of the Executive Committee for Christchurch based charity Alzheimer’s Canterbury.

Nathan’s experience enables him to bring a broad range skills to the Aviva Board table including financial expertise and a sound understanding of strategic planning and implementation.
Nathan Latimer

Our Ambassadors

Matt and Sarah Brown

A New Zealand born Samoan, Matt is an internationally acclaimed barber and hair artist, communicator, husband, and father of three children known for ‘giving great cuts’ and ‘inspiring great men.’ He is a survivor of family violence and childhood sexual abuse and shares his story with the men who frequent his busy Christchurch and Palmerston North barbershops, My Fathers Barbers, as a way to foster vulnerability, healing, and connection. He has facilitated a barbering program inside Christchurch Men’s Prison, Te Puna Wai O Tuhinapo, a Christchurch youth justice facility and continues to work alongside Corrections NZ.

Matt started his business with a simple set up in a garden shed in Aranui, Christchurch; and as his talent and client list steadily grew, he gained an engaged following on social media, which he now uses to share messages of inspiration and overcoming. Matt’s barbering skills and dedication to reviving the craft of barbering have seen him teach and demonstrate all over the world. He’s cut everyone from All Blacks to the Wu Tang Clan; but his true calling, he believes, lies in his work to redefine society’s view of masculinity and to help end the cycle of domestic violence affecting whānau all over New Zealand. In 2018, Matt partnered with the Ministry of Social Development as an ambassador for their ‘It's not OK Campaign’ to increase awareness about the role of barbers in creating safe spaces that allow men to talk. He sees the barbershop as a ‘cornerstone of the community’ and barber chairs a safe place for men to change not only their looks, but their lives. Matt is a proud ambassador and supporter for the work of Aviva. In collaboration with us, Matt hosts a men’s anti-violence support group from his barbershop.

Matt co-founded She Is Not Your Rehab with his wife Sarah and launched the concept in his 2019 TEDx talk. He says the movement is simply an invitation for men to acknowledge their own childhood trauma and to take responsibility for their healing so that they can transform their pain instead of transmitting it on those around them.

A New Zealand Māori (Ngāpuhi) wāhine, Sarah is a celebrant, writer and the communications manager of My Fathers Barbers and She Is Not Your Rehab. She is passionate about their mandate of ‘creating violence free communities’ and has worked alongside Matt since his brand began. Her focus has been to build the engagement with their following and clientele and bring their community along on the journey of the social projects they are committed to as a family business.

Previously, Sarah was a newspaper and magazine columnist, the National Events Manager for TEAR Fund, a NZ aid and development organisation and co-founded A Reason To S.M.I.L.E; a non-for-profit organisation that supported single mothers with free community events and provided a mentoring support programme for teen parents.

The couple are happiest together when with their children and whānau, being creatively inspired and travelling. They look forward to launching their first book and continuing to encourage men collectively to heal.
Matt and Sarah Brown

The Team

Gwenda Kendrew, General Manager - Operations

Gwenda joined Aviva in July 2017 as Operations Manager, leading the large team of practitioners supporting those affected by family violence and sexual violence within our communities, covering the North Canterbury, Selwyn, Mid Canterbury and Christchurch region. Following the resignation of the CEO at the time, Aviva’s Board accepted the challenge of a new leadership model, and Gwenda stepped into her co leadership role as General Manager-Operations.

Gwenda is incredibly passionate about ensuring that staff and clients are well cared for and actively works at equipping the agency to provide great supports for those who we journey alongside, and equally importantly ensures that a safe, trusting and empowering environment is provided for her team. Gwenda has extensive experience over 20 years managing social services, overseeing a wide and varied range of programmes. Her frontline social work experience included supporting children, through to adults, families and individuals who were in some way struggling with managing their resources within their communities and included supporting people pre-release from prison and worked intensively with these folk as they reintegrated into community life.

Gwenda, her husband and children spent a year serving as missionaries in the beautiful Kingdom of Tonga. Gwenda has a Bachelor of Social Work in Bi-Cultural Practice and has had the immense privilege over the last 10 years of learning of her own whakapapa. These experiences have ignited an extreme sensitivity, passion and determination to ensure people of all cultures and social status are given absolute opportunities to journey towards wellbeing and to be free from injustice and discrimination. Gwenda recently completed the University of Canterbury’s MBA Leading Collaborative Partnerships programme which offered some intense insight into the challenges and yet incredible benefits of collaborative opportunities.
Gwenda Kendrew, General Manager - Operations

Nicki O'Donnell, General Manager - Corporate

Nicki joined Aviva in February 2017, coming from the corporate world of business and finance.

As a co-leader of Aviva, Nicki is passionate about making a difference through her business knowledge and leadership. She strives to create a high trust work environment, where there is a focus on supporting and understanding staff from a life and wellbeing perspective. She believes doing so will set up the best foundation to enable Aviva to support the most vulnerable in our communities.

Nicki brings over 20 years’ experience in general business management and leadership including finance and accounting, team management, human resources, strategy, and business planning.

Outside of work, she loves spending time with her family (partner, three children, three dogs, two cats and two horses) at their rural home in North Canterbury.
Nicki O'Donnell, General Manager - Corporate