Our Team

Our Organisation

Community Living has celebrated over 25 years of success in supporting people with intellectual disabilities to live their dreams through community connections.  Since its inception in 1989, Community Living has persistently sought innovative and diverse ways...

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Our Purpose

Our Inspirational Dream - People with Intellectual Disabilities living their dreams through community connections.

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Marese McGee
Chief Executive

Marese is a firm believer in social justice.

Marese has been involved in the NGO sector for a number of years, holding senior management and directorship roles in community mental health, disability support services, social work, funding and planning – resulting in a breadth of skills and networks across New Zealand. Most recently this has included board roles for NZDSN. 

 In recent years Marese has sought to involve Community Living more actively in the wider community, championing strategic partnerships with key stakeholders. A highlight of this work has been Community Living’s Strategic Sector Alliance with Wintec to work on innovative projects combining learning opportunities for Wintec students and tutors, Community Living staff and people we support in the disability sector and creating wider relationships in the community.

Marese takes a keen interest in international development in the sector, and is a member of the International Initiatives for Disabilities Leaders, a network which has resulted in a knowledge sharing partnership with a similar organisation in Ireland. 



Andrew Thakurdas
Group Manager - Business Support 

Andrew is a trusted, results focused manager with broad policy and capability development experience in health, local government and scientific industrial sectors of New Zealand. Andrew has developed solutions at sector, enterprise and business unit levels which equip people with shared knowledge, improved processes and quality methods so as to transform their performance. Andrew passionately champions his assignment as well as creating cohesive teams that successfully deliver outcomes and multiple stakeholder benefits.

 At Community Living, Andrew is accountable for Finance, Properties, Fleet, Administration and Information Communications Technology. As a member of the Executive Team, Andrew is leading the work on our Greatest Imaginable Challenge "Secure financial freedom as we build communities where everyone belongs"

Kelly Olsen

Kelly Olsen
General Manager - Professional Services

Kelly has over twenty years senior leadership experience and a post graduate diploma in Management Studies from the University of Waikato. She has a collaborative management style and believes in strong communication and transparency.
Kelly has most recently worked at the Graeme Dingle Foundation (a not-for-profit organisation responsible for delivering experiential educational programmes into low decile schools) and has owned and operated a number of businesses.
Her heart however is in the not-for-profit sector and she seeks fairness and equality for all people, regardless of colour or creed.
Kelly is responsible for our Therapy, Children's Service - Te Puna Awhina, Disability Liaison and RIDSAS teams


Claire Van Der Most
Group Manager - Organisational Capability & Development

Claire is a strong believer in fairness and supporting people to reach their full potential.

She completed her registration as an organisational psychologist at the University of Waikato in the late 90's and prior to joining Community Living in March 2014, has worked in public and private sectors in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.  She has over 15 years' management experience, including leading human resource and organisational development functions, and her remit has also often included Health & Safety, and Quality.  

Claire is a pragmatic and inclusive leader who is focused on developing and implementing solutions that align with the organisation’s strategic direction.

She joined the Community Living team in March 2014 and is responsible for Quality, Health and Safety, Human Resources, Learning and Development, and Communication.


Warren Herring
General Manager - Community Options

Warren has worked for several years as a senior
manager in the health and disability sector in New Zealand. He has developed strong leadership skills, knowledge and experience.

He has also worked for many years at the Ministry of Social Development and spent a short time at the Ministry of Health.   

Warren is very passionate about ensuring people are treated with respect and dignity and are supported to achieve their goals and dreams. 
He has worked alongside people with disabilities to develop and design a number of innovative independent living options.

He is a Person Centred practitioner and has experience in Person Centred planning and providing quality supports as described in the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL).

Warren has an MBA from the University of Otago and has extensive change management and senior leadership experience.

He is responsible for Community Living’s Community Options Team, which includes residential services, independent living options and employment services

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