Our National Office

Gabrielle (Gabe) O'Brien

Chief Executive (Kaiwhakahaere Mataamua)

Gabe joined RWNZ with a strong background in leading and or managing functions in a range of membership organisations. Her earlier career was in change management and human resources management in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Gabe has also qualified and undertaken work as a mediator, assessor and coach. Gabe loves working collaboratively and building relationships and connections with like minded people and organisations. 

She enjoys assisting the Board to strategise and build a strong future for our organisation and meeting members and working on new opportunities for both current and future members. 

Gabe hails from Southland where she grew up on a farmlet in a small rural community about 10km outside Invercargill and says her education about Rural Women NZ started early with both her Mum and several Auntys being members. She now calls Wellington home and is a keen walker, Pilates participant, consumer of coffee from one of the many choices of cafes, reading and rather inexpertly knitting. 

Lisa Thompson

Projects & Events Manager (Kaiwhakahaere Kaupapa, Huinga Hoki)

Outside of work, Lisa has a broad range of interests. She regularly entangles herself in Pilates Reformer machines and plays croquet. She loves to create in her kitchen and reads a wide range of books with detective stories being her current favourite. She especially enjoys spending time with friends, going out to live theatre and music, and travelling (when circumstances permit). Lisa has a dog called Marley who she walks in the bush near her home in inner city Wellington. 

She is a member of her local community council and a committee member at her croquet club. In her previous incarnations Lisa worked for not-for-profit organisations, as a lawyer for six years and in the printing industry for ten years. Lisa organises and co-ordinates RWNZ’s national event programme and enjoys assisting Members with events in their areas. She also oversees the development of RWNZ projects. She is the current Editor of the Express magazine and you will see regular online communications from her too. Lisa is the National Office representative on the Centennial Committee.

Felicity Bunny

National Membership Manager and Office Manager (Kaiwhakahaere Tari)

Felicity began her working life in 1996 ‘learning the trade’ in community radio in Masterton; a career she pursued for about 12 years. In 2007 and craving a break from the 9 to 5, Felicity ‘went back to school’, graduating from Victoria University 4 years later with a B.A. in Humanities (Hons). Since returning to the world of full time employment, she has worked for various membership organisations in Wellington. 

When the opportunity arose to work for RWNZ, it spoke directly to her rural roots. Felicity loves supporting New Zealand’s rural communities even though she doesn’t don her gumboots as much as she would like to these days. Any spare time Felicity has is spent singing in a chamber choir, and enjoying dance of various styles for fun and fitness. Reading, going to the theatre, playing piano and getting out for walks fills up most weekends.

 Felicity is the National Membership Manager as well as National Office Manager. Her role is primarily to assist Members with any and all sorts of queries and requests. She oversees the annual subscription renewal process and assists the RWNZ Board administratively.

Janet Ziegler

Finance Coordinator

Janet hails from Taihape where her family runs a sheep, beef and deer farm. After being raised on the farm, life has taken her in many directions; a horticultural degree from Massey to marketing officer at Fruitfed back in the 80’s. Then a shift to tourism and running her own wedding co-ordination business in the Whistundays, Australia. She returned to Wellington in 2006 with her two (now adult) children, and have been working in finance ever since. You can take the girl out of the country, but you can never take the country out of the girl.

Mia Cohen

Communications and Social Media Support

Mia moved to Wellington from Whanganui when she began her Communications degree at Massey University, where she started at RWNZ as an intern in 2020. Mia produces the Black Heels and Tractor Wheels Podcast, runs the RWNZ social media and assists Lisa to promote RWNZ events, such as the NZI Rural Women NZ Business Awards.