Susan Warren, Chief Executive

Susan has been COMET Auckland - Te Hononga Akoranga’s Chief Executive since 2011. Previously she was the Manager, Centre for Family Learning at COMET. She has a Masters in Education with first class honours, focusing on cognition and instruction. 

Susan has previously worked for the Ministry of Education, working with school leaders, boards and teachers in Manukau to help them raise student achievement in literacy and numeracy. She also designed and led the Pasifika Schooling Improvement project, a national project to improve the effectiveness of interventions for Pasifika students. Susan has written a variety of educational resources for World Vision New Zealand including books, DVDs, photo packs and interactive internet sites to help NZ children learn more about the developing world. Susan has always believed in the power of learning to change lives. 

Linda Hu, Director of Finance

Linda has been responsible for COMET Auckland- Te Hononga Akoranga’s finance department since 2008. She is dedicated to improving the efficiency of financial management system as well as IT system and business procedures. Linda is also leading the data department.

Linda is a Chartered Accountant. She has bachelor’s degrees in Business and Mathematics, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Statistics. She has huge interest in data science.

Before coming to New Zealand with her family in 2002, Linda was a Statistician and IT Manager in China.

Shaheeda Zaitoon, Office Administrator

Shaheeda joined Comet Auckland - Te Hononga Akoranga in 2017 as an administrator. She has a Diploma in Secretarial/Administration.

In Fiji she was a Personal Assistant for a Trade Union movement. 

Rachel Ong, 

Rachel joined COMET Auckland - Te Hononga Akoranga in June 2018. She has a background in public and private accounting.

Since joining she has been involved in processing the financial documents and liaising with the administrators to ensure compliance with procedures. This is her second stint in a non-profit organisation, and she is enjoying the experience.

Rebecca Toms, Communications Manager

Rebecca leads COMET Auckland - Te Hononga Akoranga’s communication strategy to raise awareness of its work and the key issues affecting educational equity.

She has over ten years experience in promoting and building the public profile of the not-for-profit sector, for small businesses, local government and parliamentary services. Rebecca is a former Journalist, and she has a Graduate Diploma in Journalism Studies from Massey University.

Polina Howe, Digital Content Producer

Polina produces content for the COMET Auckland- Te Hononga Akoranga website, its initiatives and social media channels. This involves the creation of videos, photos, graphics, and audio as well as supporting material for articles and presentations.

Polina has BA(Hons) Journalism from University for the Creative Arts, UK, and over 10 year's experience in advertising as a video editor and motion graphics artist.

Rajshree Krishnan, Senior Data Analyst 

Raj has worked with COMET Auckland- Te Hononga Akoranga since 2014, providing data support for various projects and leading the production of our annual data snapshots.  She enjoys “making numbers talk” and believes that data should be presented in a manner that can be understood by everyone. 

Raj is originally from Malaysia. She has a PhD in educational psychology from the University of Auckland, a BSc (Hons) and a Masters with Distinction in Psychology from the University of Otago. 

Shirley Johnson, Youth Employability Director 

Shirley developed and leads our Youth Employability initiative, and works closely with employers, industry leaders, government agencies, educators, and youth service organisations. She is also the lead trainer for YEP providers around the country.

Shirley contributed to the development of the national Youth Employability Framework. Her work is closely allied to the Auckland Plan goals for sustainable growth in skills and training for the knowledge-based economy. 

Shirley is from Christchurch where she worked in local government and social services. 

Alysha, YEP Auckland Regional Coordinator

Alysha is Auckland Regional Coordinator for COMET Auckland - Te Hononga Akoranga ‘Youth Employability Programme: Licence to Work (YEP)’. She establishes and maintains strategic partnerships with key stakeholders in education and business to support sustainable programme implementation in a range of sites, including secondary schools, alternative education providers and youth organisations across central, south and west Auckland.

Alysha is passionate about empowering young people to achieve positive life outcomes through the development of a growth mindset, building self-confidence, and gaining a wide range of skills they can utilise in their personal and professional lives.

Dr Sarah Morgan, STEM and SouthSci Manager

Sarah is the Manager for SouthSci, the participatory science platform in south Auckland, and for the STEM Alliance Aotearoa.  She works with communities, schools, businesses and scientists to develop research projects and to show young people the value of science and STEM careers.  

Sarah has a PhD in Molecular Genetics from Otago University, a strong background in science communication, and a graduate diploma in teaching. She teaches part-time in a south Auckland school.    

Jonathan Longstaff, Project Support – STEM / Youth Employability 

Jonathan provides administrative and logistical support to COMET Auckland- Te Hononga Akoranga’s STEM and Youth Employability teams. Originally from the USA, he has a BA (cum laude) in History and a Diploma in Computer Graphic Design. Prior to joining in 2018, Jonathan juggled freelance design work and fulltime parenting for nearly a decade. He is passionate about education and has previously worked in museums, both in the USA and NZ, including Auckland Museum.

Alison Sutton, Talking Matters Director

Alison leads the Talking Matters initiative to get everyone to talk more with babies and young children under 3. She has worked for COMET Auckland - Te Hononga Akoranga since 2009, focusing on literacy and family learning. Alison has a background in research and evaluation in adult literacy, lifelong learning and social services for government agencies including for the Ministry of Education and the Tertiary Education Commission. She has a Master of Arts (Social Policy) with first class honours.   

In 2015, Alison was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Fellowship to look at citywide literacy action in England and the USA. In the same year, she was awarded the Adult Literacy and Numeracy Leadership Award by the National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults. 

Madeleine Sheahan, Talking Matters Operations Director

Madeleine became Operations Manager for Talking Matters in January 2019. This represented a completely new direction after a long career in film and TV where Madeleine’s key role was facilitating documentaries with cultural value and social impact. That work deepened a belief in the power of communication skills as a component of personal and societal wellbeing. She was attracted to Talking Matters by the unique, targeted message of the campaign and the power of the neurological science underpinning it. As the campaign expands from its initial scoping and research phases, Madeleine is managing the deployment of a small team which supports whānau, services and educators in getting everyone to talk more to babies and young children under three to ensure they reach their potential.

Emma Quigan, Talking Matters Community Activator 

Emma trained and practiced as a Speech & Language Therapist before taking up a position focusing on professional development and sector capability for the Ministry of Education.  She joined Talking Matters at its inception and leads community-based initiatives that design and support coaching models to wrap rich language environments around babies and children at home and in ECEs. Emma is studying for her Masters in Education at with Prof. Jan Gaffney and Dr Rae Si'ilata at Auckland University.

Huhana Ramsay, Talking Matters Community Activator 

Huhana joined the COMET Auckland- Te Hononga Akoranga team in August of 2018 as a community activator for the Talking Matters campaign. Huhana has previous experience working within kaupapa Māori environments across a number of sectors, including; Education, Health and Disability.  As a community activator she is passionate about supporting community lead development, in particular promoting opportunities for whānau Māori and Pasifika to take the lead in their own transformational change.  Huhana has whakapapa ties to Ngati Te Ata, Tainui and Te Tahawai, Ngati Kahu; she is a fluent speaker of te reo Māori and a strong proponent for the early introduction of te reo Māori and bi-lingual learning in infants and toddlers.

Anabel Fernandez, Talking Matters Team Coordinator

Ana is the Talking Matters Team Coordinator. She has previous experience in project coordination and administration in the areas of culture, trade and education. Originally from Cuba, she has Bachelor in Social Communication, a Master in Sociology, and is currently working in her PhD. thesis in Social Science at AUT. She is passionate about the importance of equitable education and cultural diversity, and believes in the power of communities for collective action. Ana speaks Spanish, English and a bit of Dutch. 

Treens Bregmen, Talking Matters Administrator

Treens and her daughter Willow took part in the Talking Matters programme. When the role of the Administrator became available she applied and got the position. Treens has a background in travel, administration and nursing. 

Huia Hawke, Education Māori Manager

Tēnā  tātou katoa… 

Ko Ruapehu me Aoraki ngā maunga, Ko Mākōtuku me Whanganui ngā awa, Ko Te Kete Ika a Rakaihautū te hapuā. He uri nō Ngāti Uenuku te hapū Whangānui Nui Tōnu te iwi me Ngāti Moki Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki ngā hapū Kai Tahu te iwi. He Boothillian āhau  nō Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei…he mihi aroha tēnei kia tātou katoa. Huia (Ngahuia mo ētahi) Hawke āhau.

Huia (Ngahuia) leads the Education Māori portfolio, which includes the Tāmaki Makaurau Education Forum and the Rangatahi Wānanga. Under the banner of ‘Whakamātauria ōu Whakaaro’, Huia’s role is to challenge educational thinking and practice to do right by Māori learners. She sees iwi, hapū and whānau as integral to Māori educational achievement and prosperity. 

Huia comes from a family with strong mana whenua connections to Auckland.  A trained teacher, she started a school on Ōrākei Marae. Huia came to COMET Auckland - Te Hononga Akoranga from the Ministry of Education where she created and filled the role of Behaviour Specialist Teacher in 2001, and coordinated numerous initiatives in secondary schools.