Board Members

The Board at Fostering Kids is made up of 8 dynamic, professional volunteers. Each brings a wealth of experience from the foster care sector. They decide the strategic direction of Fostering Kids New Zealand, so that we can grow and make sure more and more kids in foster care are able to reach their potential.

Colin Hardgrave | Chairperson & Foster Carer Member
Colin lives in the Bay of Plenty and has fostered two girls who have now graduated from university and left home. He continues to provide short term fostering and respite care in a Family Home. Colin has cared for around 40 children over the last decade.
Colin’s work experience is in banking management.

Edwina Poynton | Deputy Chair & Sector Specialist
Edwina comes from a long career in social work in Ireland, the UK and New Zealand, including government, NGOs and education. The cornerstone of her work is a strengths perspective, enabling the voices of children to be heard in decisions affecting them.
Edwina is Care Services Manager at Cholmondeley, a home providing residential respite care, transition to permanency and foster care.

Diana Halsted | Sector Specialist
Diana has been involved with foster parents and children throughout her social work career, initially with the Ministry for 13 years, and then with Presbyterian Support for 15 years. She was a member of the local foster association during these years and a board member since 2007.
Diana believes that all foster parents need to be supported to carry out their vitally important role caring for children.

Yasser El Shall | Foster Carer Member
Yasser was born in Cairo, Egypt and immigrated to New Zealand eighteen years ago. He is a proud loving husband to a wonderful woman who has been his biggest strength. He is the proud father of five children; three boys (one of them is a foster child) aged 16 to 24 years old and two girls aged 25 and 28.  He is very proud that two of his sons are Social Workers working with our most vulnerable foster children.  I believe that their career choice is a direct reflection of our whanau kaupapa.   He has a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Business Management.

Six years ago he started his journey with children as a Specialist Caregiver for high risk and complex needs youth, through Youth Horizons Trust.  This, he believes, is when he truly discovered himself and passion for vulnerable children in care. His decision to be a foster parent was based on the firm belief that he can make a positive difference in a foster child’s life. Having a child in his care is his biggest reward and asset. Fostering makes him feel so special and that his life with his son is complete.

Racquel Lewis | Foster Carer Member
Racquel is a committee member for the Otautahi Foster Carers Association and a respite care giver for children in the care of Oranga Tamariki, along with being a Critical Support Worker for Fostering Kids NZ. Racquel has counselling skills and has studied Advanced Psychotherapy and Neuro Linguistic Programming. She is a member of Associated Stress Consultants.
Racquel brings her 15 years’ experience in multi-disciplinary senior management, including change management. Her strengths are counselling skills, business acumen,and a “hands on” attitude to business.

Nicola Atwool | Sector Specialist
Nicola has a particular interest in attachment theory and resilience, which she explored in her PhD. An ecological framework, the sociology of childhood, critical theory, and a children’s rights perspective informs her work. The goal of her research is to influence policy and practice to improve outcomes for children and young people exposed to adversity.  Nicola came to an academic position with extensive practitioner experience and is committed to research that bridges the worlds of academia, policy and practice.
At the beginning of 2006 Nicola took up a position as Principal Advisor in the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. Nicola returned to Otago University at the beginning of 2012 as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Gender and Social Work.

John Lopdell | Foster Carer Member
John lives in the eastern suburbs of Wellington, with his wife, four children and their labradoodle, Boston. He is a statistician, and for 25 years worked for Statistics New Zealand, including several years in a management role. He now works as a consultant for a US research company, with much of his work related to US and international education studies. After exploring international adoption as a way of giving back, Andrea and John found out about the great need for transitional foster care. Four years ago they began their journey as transitional foster carers with Child, Youth and Family, and have been privileged to have almost 30 children aged from 12 hours to 12 years old live with them in that time. They love being part of a multi-discipline team focused on achieving the very best for these children. The pain of saying goodbye is eased by knowing they are in a good place, which thankfully has been the case for the majority. Their passion for foster care has grown steadily.

Board policy

The Board has between seven and nine Governors, made up of Foster Carer Members and other Governors with governance/specialist skills. As set out in section 11.3 of the constitution.

Please find BOTH the board role of a Foster Carer Representative AND the nomination form by clicking on this link