National Office

National Office Staff


Chris Hooper - Chief Executive Officer

After a variety of early management roles in the leisure and recreation sector, Chris has developed a long career in the non-profit sector at a senior level. Over the past twenty years and prior to taking up his CE role with NZRDA, he had been CEO for Special Olympics in NZ and then the UK, for a joint period of almost ten years. Chris also headed up SCOUTS New Zealand for six years and in between ran the Alumni Engagement Programme at Victoria University, Wellington, and enjoyed a brief foray into professional sports administration. Away from work Chris has two daughters who are both training and working as nurses and lists his interests as: running, cooking and musical theatre.

Rachelle Perkins - Finance and Administration

Rachelle initially joined NZRDA as a short-term helper, but some 15 years later is now the longest serving staff member on the National Office team, From 10 hours a week helping with admin and arranging national training seminars, Rachelle is now the full-time finance manager, working closely with the CEO, Marketing and Training teams making sure everything runs smoothly from a financial perspective for NZRDA. Rachelle still enjoys the opportunity to visit any of our RDA Groups and see first-hand the fantastic work our volunteers and horses do for our riders. Their achievements never cease to amaze Rachelle, which is why she has such a passion for the organisation. Before NZRDA, Rachelle spent many years working in London and on returning to New Zealand with her family, helped regularly at her children’s school events and was the junior administrator at the local football club for several years. Outside of RDA, Rachelle’s support her two children who attend universities in Wellington, she loves to read novels, socialise with friends and family and can be seen regularly cheering for her son’s team from the side-line, at weekend football matches.

Lynn Coory - Human resources, Manager

I’m proud to be a born and bred Wellingtonian, I grew up in Kilbirnie across the road from the sea and (almost) beside the airport. I have worked in HR (sometimes called Personnel, People & Culture or People & Capability or ‘that woman from HO’) for what feels like forever! I have been privileged to have worked in great companies, had amazing experiences and met extraordinary people many of whom have become good friends. Outside of work I spend as much time as possible with family and friends or can be found at the local drama club acting, directing, cherishing (providing lunch for the extremely hard working backstage crew) or backstage doing props for shows. My favourite role was as one of the three little pigs, complete with curly tail, fabulous face painting and ears! I’ve also been a possum, a witch, a gobin and a Fairy Godmother. I am passionate about the not-for-profit sector and do a lot of work to help support groups with employment questions or problems as needed. I am excited about the opportunity to work at Riding for the Disabled and look forward to getting out and about to meet everyone.

Dna Wells - National Training Manager

As NZRDA’s National Training Manager, I am responsible and committed to providing quality Standards, Training, Certification, and Support to all Groups and RDA people. I generally work from home and travel regularly to Groups, providing:

Continuous development of appropriate standards;
Delivery of effective training;
Objective evidence that RDA groups and their people are performing safely and effectively through health and safety term reporting
Certification of groups and their coaches;
Passionate and personal support to all groups.
Before joining the NZRDA National Team in 2014, I worked at the Hamilton group RDA as the coach/manager for 7 years, during that time I gained experience and knowledge of operating a group with the support of a great committee. I tripled the rider numbers, increased operating days, employed 3 additional staff, covered the arena and formed strong bonds within the community. I was also a member of the NZRDA National Training Team for 5 years. Prior to my NZRDA journey, I was a tutor and horse manager at Waikato Institute of Technology, delivering equine units and teaching a range of students, as well as gaining my qualifications in teaching, assessing and moderation.

My life with horses started before I could walk, and continued into a full-time profession for many years, training and raising horses to CCI 3 start-level. I become a member of the 1993 and 1994 NZ Equestrian 3-Day Event Team and have competed at 12 CCI three-star events in NZ and Australia. I have traveled extensively around the world attending horse-related events then finally settling to live in Cambridge with my 13-year- old daughter, who has now has taken up the reins, she has two competitive horses and 2 other young ones, that I help her with.

Jill Paterson - Training Coordinator

My role as National Training Coordinator started in 2014, firstly on a short term contract and then in a permanent position from 2015. The role is one of support for the National Training Manager and includes responsibilities in the training, certification, support and operational areas. Coming from a Chartered Accounting back ground has helped me in this role in: establishing systems, reporting, and bookings and being the main communication person for Groups. On a personal level, I was born and bred in Gisborne and then moved to Wellington 20 years ago. I am a mother of 3, and during my period out of the workforce I was able to use my passion for volunteering at my local Wellington Group RDA. This started 9 years ago as an “on the ground” Volunteer and also included time as a committee member.

 Kylie MacDonald - Qualifications Advisor

Based from my home office in Cambridge, my role is to support those of you enrolled in our formal qualifications. So, if you are thinking of enrolling, or have someone in your group you’d like to enroll then I can help you with that process. It is also my role to ensure that once enrolled you are completing assessments regularly, and you have what you need to do so. Any questions you have regarding theory or practical assessment should also come to me.

Louise Tunley - Communications Co-ordinator

I joined NZRDA in 2010 to provide administrative support to the NZRDA National Office team and it’s 56 Groups across New Zealand. I love hearing the great stories that come from our RDA Groups and the amazing changes they are making in people’s lives. Before NZRDA I was a team leader for a corporate travel agency, until having my first child and wanting a better work/life balance. When I am not at NZRDA I enjoy spending time with my husband and two children, I also make time to explore my creative side by decorating cakes and painting.

Ingrid Kamstra - Fundraising


NZRDA Board Members


Sarah Haydon - Chair

Sarah has been on the board since October 2010, and was appointed Chair in September 2011. Her involvement with RDA started back in 1994 when she first volunteered at Auckland Eastern Suburbs Group RDA, where she is now Vice President. She is the Chair of Cavalier Corporation Limited (NZX listed company), a Council Member for Unitec, an Executive Committee Member of Waste Disposal Services, a Director of the Co-Operative Bank Limited and GNS Science Limited and an associate of The Boardroom Practice Limited. Prior to becoming a director and consultant, Sarah was Chief Financial Officer of OfficeMax New Zealand for ten years. Other companies where Sarah has worked include BP, both in the UK and on international project work, and with TVNZ following her emigration to NZ. Sarah qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG in London. Sarah has an extensive background in strategic planning, finance, general management and organisational development. She has led very large teams of people and has strong HR and people skills and is passionate about bringing out the best in people.

Fiona Wilson - RDA Member

Fiona has been a volunteer for nine years at Auckland Eastern Suburbs Group RDA. Fiona has been in charge of the Wednesday morning session for the last seven years, and was awarded the NZRDA Coach of the Year in 2014. She recently joined the equine team at Ambury Park Centre, working there four days a week (having previously both volunteered and worked in their Therapy programme), has trained as an Operational Certificate Reviewer and is a Volunteer Training Facilitator. She also continues with her 25 years in the modelling and TV presenting industries, having spent many years filming TV commercials for various brands and speaking/presenting roles as well as assisting voluntary organisations with hosting fashion parades as fundraisers. In Fiona’s own words of introduction she says “I will offer the Board a grass roots approach to what Groups are discovering is required, and be able to communicate some of the challenges we face”.

Gavin Whiting - Co-opted Member

Gavin joined the NZRDA board in 2011 as a co-opted member and holds a Human Resources portfolio. Since joining the board he has played an integral role in the enhancement of Operational Standards and H&S Compliance. He is currently self-employed as a consultant fixing businesses primarily in the manufacturing sector. Gavin has held a variety of senior operational roles with Fletchers over the past 20 years except when he ran his own business coaching firm for 5 of those years. Gavin and his wife Vivienne own a lifestyle block just north of Christchurch where they have 5 young horses. He is EAGALA trained and has completed Levels 1 & 2 of Kathy Pike's EFLC Apprenticeship programme. He also counts himself lucky to have learned horsemanship from some of the best including Ray Hunt, Buck Brannaman, and Ken Dromgool.

Sally Wenley  - Co-opted Member

Sally joined the Board of NZRDA in February 2014. Amongst her many other skills she is able to provide a disability perspective to the Board. Sally has over 20 years journalism experience covering radio television and print. She is a four times winner of Qantas Media Awards.

Donna Kennedy - RDA Member

Jane Neale - RDA Member