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Julie Paterson leaves WISPA Board on a high note: A legacy of championing women’s sport and active recreation.

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  • Julie Paterson to step down from her role as WISPA co-chair 
  • She leaves a lasting impact on the organisation and on women and girls in sport and recreation in Aotearoa.
  • Recruitment is now open for vacant Board and Co-Chair position.

Women in Sport Aotearoa, Ngā Wāhine Hākinakina o Aotearoa (WISPA) announces with gratitude the resignation of Julie Paterson from her role as Co-Chair of the WISPA Board. Julie will step down from her position after serving the organisation with distinction for the past six years and leaving an indelible mark on the advancement of women in sport and active recreation.

As the co-founder and co-chair of Women in Sport Aotearoa, Julie’s expertise and leadership have been instrumental in the organisation’s success. Her input and guidance were particularly valuable in the successful bid of the IWG Secretariat, which brought the world’s largest gender equity in sport and physical activity conference to Aotearoa.

Julie has had an extensive career as a sports administrator. Early in her career, she was one of the small group of women leading national sports organisations in Aotearoa. She can now celebrate that more women are stepping into these spaces, making it evident that change is happening. Currently the CEO of Tennis New Zealand, she previously led Netball South, the Southern Steel, Netball Northern, and the Northern Mystics. In 2019, Julie was appointed to the Gender Equality sub-Committee for the International Tennis Federation, where she advocates for women’s and girls’ rights globally.

Julie, one of two first female leaders from Aotearoa, was selected to participate in the Global Sports Mentoring Program (GSMP) hosted by the U.S Department of State in 2015. During her five-week stay, she was matched with Deborah Slaner Larkin, then the CEO of the Women’s Sport Foundation. Julie and Deborah collaborated closely to develop an action plan that could be implemented upon Julie’s return home. Following her experience with the GSMP, Julie co-founded Women in Sport Aotearoa, which launched one year after the mentorship programme. 

“The establishment and growth of WISPA have been a significant undertaking for over seven years, and while I am sad to be stepping away from the WISPA Co-Chair role, the time is right for new leadership”, Julie Paterson said. 

“WISPA is at the beginning of the next strategic phase, and I am excited to see how fresh thinking will progress the ongoing development of our organisation.  Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this amazing journey.”

While Julie may no longer be part of the WISPA Board, she will always be part of the WISPA whānau as one of the Co-Founders. Her passion for advocating for women and girls in sports inspires us, and we are grateful for her mark on our organisation. WISPA wishes to express its heartfelt appreciation for Julie’s outstanding work and unwavering commitment to advancing the kaupapa of women in sport and recreation.

Sarah Leberman, Jacinda Ardern and Julie Paterson at Captains Lunch 2021

Co-Chair and Co-Founder Sarah Leberman said, “On behalf of the WISPA Board, I want to thank Julie for her invaluable contributions as Co-Chair. Julie has been an exceptional leader and advocate for women and girls, and her passion and dedication have been truly inspiring. We will miss her greatly, but we know her legacy will continue guiding and inspiring us. 

“On a personal note, I want to thank Julie for her friendship, trust, integrity and belief in our joint vision. We are a great team. For two women who did not know each other at the end of 2015, we have, together with others, achieved significant change.” 

As WISPA bids a fond farewell to Julie Paterson, the organisation is seeking applications for the vacant board and Co-Chair position. This is a unique opportunity for individuals passionate about women’s sports and physical activity and wants to make a real difference in Aotearoa. The ideal candidate will possess a strong sports administration, advocacy, and leadership background and be committed to advancing gender equity in sports and active recreation. WISPA encourages interested parties to apply through Amy Tea Consulting here.


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