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MEET OUR TRUSTEES

Ginnie Denny, Chair

Ginnie Denny has held governance positions in a range of education-related organisations over the past 6 years. As a long-time supporter of COMET, she brings expertise in tertiary and adult education as well as business acumen to the board table.  

Professionally, Ginnie works at the interface of business and education to create sustainable training platforms that meet the needs of both individual learners and their workplaces. She has a special interest in strengthening adult literacy and numeracy provision.  

Ginnie has worked for the Tertiary Education Commission, New Zealand Qualifications Authority and various Industry Training Organisations and Private Training Establishments to develop robust systems and processes to improve learner outcomes. 

Jignasha Patel

Jignasha is the Director of Enterprise and Finance at Auckland Museum. She is responsible for implementing strategies to drive revenue and business growth and translating financial complexity into business information to drive commercial results.

 She is a passionate advocate of driving sustainable business transformation and societal change through a 3-pronged focus on people and culture coupled with commercialisation and an insight-driven focus on the customer.  Having worked across a wide range of industry sectors and internationally with large organisations in USA, Australia, India and Middle East has reinforced her belief in the value of collaboration, diverse experiences and perspectives in creating success for businesses.

Originally from Fiji, Jignasha has lived in New Zealand for the past 35 years, establishing herself as  an experienced leader in the fields of commercial development and financial management capability. Jignasha has a track record of achievement as a leader in the corporate and consulting world, having headed up nationally significant projects as General Manager of Air New Zealand Aviation Institute and Air New Zealand Cargo.

Jignasha brings value around the Board table through combining her strategic leadership and customer experience with a solid understanding of talent and diversity, financial oversight and risk management. 

Jignasha is also a Board Director for NZ Post and holds a number of governance roles with other organisations.  She is also a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand as well as a Member of the Institute of Directors (NZ) and Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Jannitta Pilisi

Jannitta is an accomplished community leader and brings over two decades of governance, senior executive experience in tertiary education and the not-for-profit sector to her role as a Comet Trustee.   

She is a proud Kiwi-born Niuean and serves concurrently on the Pacific Development and Conservation Trust, the NZ Police Auckland Central Pasifika Advisory Board, and the PGM Trust Board alongside her role as a Comet Trustee.  From 2013 to 2018 she was a Trustee for the Pasifika Education Centre. 

Jannitta is a consultant and is passionate about building capability and capacity in low-income communities.  From 2015 to 2018 Jannitta led the Pacific Strategy at Foundation North - Auckland and Northland's Philanthropic Community Trust.   

Amit Prasad

Amit Prasad joined our board in 2018. He has spent more than two decades in financial and general management, including 12 years in the education sector. He currently works as a Director of Finance for the University of Auckland Business School.

Amit is originally from Fiji and began his career in an export-oriented fashion and textile industry. In his governance roles, Amit is involved with a few non-profits as Trustee, Board Member Finance, Audit Risk Committees.

He is a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, a Fellow of CPA Australia and holds an MBA from Deakin University, Melbourne. Outside work he enjoys watching sports, travelling, mostly road trips and enjoys spending time with his partner and kids.

Andrew Abernethy

Andrew is a corporate lawyer specialising in mergers and acquisitions and funds structuring.  He is qualified to practise in New York, England & Wales, Hong Kong and New Zealand. 

He attended Victoria University of Wellington, University of Auckland, and the Law School at The University of Chicago.  He has spent most of his career abroad, practising in New York, London, Hong Kong and Dubai and is now based in Auckland, where his three children attend school. 

Tracy Massam

Tracy joined our board in 2018. She is Asset Manager for the Tāmaki Regeneration Company. 

She previously spent seven years in asset and facilities management for Auckland Council and more than 10 years with the Ministry of Education, including senior adviser roles in property management in the schooling sector and increasing participation in the early childhood education. 

Alongside her work, Tracy is a trustee of Global Action Plan Oceania Charitable Trust who are helping create a more sustainable future through the management of various recycling initiatives and educational programmes in schools. Tracy is also the secretariat of the New Zealand chapter of the Asset Management Council.  

Tracy’s whanau are staunch supporters of Tikanga Māori and are prominent in the education sector, particularly Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Māori. 

Richard Thornton

Richard joined our board in 2018. He is Schools’ Adviser for The Skills Group and has an extensive background in education and business. 

He was previously a secondary school principal for 10 years, northern manger with the Education Review Office, and deputy chief executive at NZQA. 

He’s also spent 10 years in the import, manufacturing and retail sectors. 

Richard has considerable governance experience as director on several boards and is currently an elected member of the Manurewa High School board of trustees. 

Finau Glen Tuala

Finau Glen also joined our board in 2018. He is a director with his wife Ria of Community KIDS Early Learning Centres which has three ECEs in Tāmaki and two in development in south Auckland. He is also managing director of Totara Seed Trust in Tāmaki, a Pasifika-based organisation working towards advocacy and support for social housing. 

Previously Glen was senior adviser for Pasifika education at CORE Education and Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (The Correspondence School), and Pasifika education co-ordinator for the Education Ministry. Glen also taught secondary school biology and science in Auckland and the UK. 

A New Zealand-born Samoan, Glen has strong ties to Glen Innes where he was the inaugural chair of the Tāmaki Regeneration Company’s community liaison committee. 

Melissa Crawford

Melissa joined our board in 2019.  Following almost fifteen years working for New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade as a diplomat in New Zealand and China, Melissa has now returned to Auckland to work as a lawyer.

As well as serving on our board, Melissa is a Trustee of the Fair Food Trust, a connector between those with surplus food and organisations working with financially vulnerable families.  Throughout 2019 Melissa also participated in an Auckland Council initiative which saw her serve as a non-voting Director on the board of ATEED.

Outside of work and governance commitments Melissa enjoys boating and exploring the hidden corners of New Zealand with her family.

COMET