Our Board

Our 2023 Board

From the left: Mereana Te Pere (Co-Chair), Bevan Cheung (previous board member), Debbi Tohill (Executive Director), Laverne Robinson (Co-Chair), Suzi Gallagher (previous board member), Melanie Beres (Treasurer)

Mereana Te Pere (Co-Chair)

Mereana brings strong communication and strategic skills, authentic relationships with Māori, and integrity and honesty to the governance board. The advancement of Māori has always been an ongoing pursuit for Mereana. Most of her work experience has been centred around improving outcomes and systems for Māori. This aligns with her professional aspirations, but also her personal commitment to creating healthy thriving whānau. She has experience and knowledge of the Education, Corrections and Public Health systems, and the social service provider sector. This is an important kaupapa and one that resonates with her as a wahine Māori, a parent, a teacher and a health promoter. Building healthy respectful relationships and views is a foundation for success and something she strives to contribute to.

Mereana is currently employed with the Health Promotion Forum of NZ, a national NGO organisation as Health Promotion Strategist, looking after the Māori portfolio. This role allows her to work flexibly and across sectors, but always toward focused objectives

Laverne Robinson (Co-Chair)

Raised in Tāmaki Makaurau, Laverne joined the board in 2022, and brings 20 years of experience in the charity and public health sectors in both Aotearoa and the UK. Initially training as a counsellor and working with rangatahi at risk she went on to work in Young People’s Sexual Health Services before returning to New Zealand and taking up leadership roles in a number of children’s health services.  Laverne is passionate about working with rangatahi, supporting a number of youth advisory groups and youth leaders and young professionals during her career.  She has been a lecturer in mental health, coach and supervisor in the social care sector, and is a strong advocate for the voice of young people – ensuring that services for youth are inclusive, empowering and a reflection of the times that rangatahi live in.

Laverne brings to the RPE board her leadership knowledge, strategic mindset, sense of humour and commitment to reducing sexual violence and improving outcomes for young people in Aotearoa.

Melanie Beres (Treasurer)

Kia ora, I am an  Associate Professor in Sociology and Gender Studies in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Otago. I am also the Academic Director of Te Whare Tāwharau, the University of Otago’s sexual violence support and prevention centre. My research interests focus on sexual violence prevention and shifting understandings of sexual consent. My publications focus on how young people understand sexual consent and how they experience sexual violence prevention programmes. I have also published on institutional responses to sexual violence.

I am originally from Canada and completed my PhD at the University of Alberta. I moved to New Zealand in 2007 to work as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Auckland. Since coming to the University of Otago in 2010 I have taught in the sociology and gender studies majors and served on a number of university committees focused on student well being and sexual violence.

I live with my partner, Louise and daughter Ovita (13). On the weekends we enjoy spending time in the garden, renovating, and enjoying the many beaches Dunedin has to offer.

Charlotte Travalla (Secretary)

Charlotte is a GP registrar working in Onehunga. Originally from Christchurch, she studied medicine at the Univeristy of Auckland, before working in hospitals in Tāmaki Makaurau and the UK. She holds a Masters in Public Health from the University of Cambridge, and her thesis focused on improving mental health outcomes among homeless women. She has a long-standing passion for the prevention of sexual violence and helping young people to develop a robust understanding of consent and respectful relationships. Outside of her work, she enjoys reading, hiking and travel.

Join Our Board

To express an interest in joining the board as a trustee, email Debbi Tohill  Contact Us Here