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Nicky van den Bos to become Acting CEO; Rachel Froggatt to step down at AGM

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Leadership of Women in Sport Aotearoa, Ngā Wāhine Hākinakina o Aotearoa will transition into very capable hands at the WISPA Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 14 December 2022.

WISPA Programme Director Nicky van den Bos has accepted the position of Acting CEO, after inaugural CEO Rachel Froggatt made the decision to step down following more than 4 years in the role.

The transition is timely, happening in the wake of the very successful staging of the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport (IWG 2022) in mid-November.

It will also mark the moment that WISPA passes into a fresh phase in its development, following establishment in late 2016. A new 5-year strategic direction – developed in partnership with the WISPA Foundation Members and WISPA Rōpū, He Wāhine toa kei te Kokiri – is due to be launched at the AGM.

Nicky van den Bos is an experienced events and operations leader, most recently leading the overall logistical delivery of the IWG World Conference, and all other WISPA programmes since mid-2020.

Nicky joined WISPA after 10+ years’ experience in Aotearoa New Zealand and the UK in a range of National Sports and Commercial Organisations. Immediately prior to WISPA, she led the events department at New Zealand Cricket, responsible for planning and executing live international men’s and women’s cricket matches across the country.

Nicky van den Bos said:I am most humbled to be appointed to the Acting CEO position at WISPA with the full support of the board and team. Following the success of IWG, 2023 will be an exciting step forward in WISPA’s journey with implementing the new strategic plan and leveraging the momentum of the conference call to action in our community. WISPA remains focussed on driving forward positive change for Women and Girls across Aotearoa and I am delighted to be able to lead the next chapter in our story.”

Rachel Froggatt steps down with the thanks of the WISPA Board, following a successful tenure as inaugural CEO, and WISPA’s first employee. Rachel was appointed in September 2018, and in October 2018 also took up the dual role of Secretary General of the International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport Secretariat and World Conference 2018 – 2022 when Aotearoa New Zealand became the official host nation. She is launching her own consulting business in the New Year, and she has just taken up her first directorship, with the AUT Students Association (AUTSA).

Rachel Froggatt said: “I am incredibly proud to have led WISPA from a small start-up in late 2018, to a firmly established and respected leader at the forefront of advancing positive change for women and girls in sport and recreation in Aotearoa New Zealand and the world.

There have been many highlights along the journey; but for me, the biggest has been WISPA’s contribution to making women and girls a strategic priority across our domestic sport and recreation system, and a staple of mainstream sports consumption – as evidenced by capacity participation and exceptional response to IWG 2022 and sold-out crowds for the Black Ferns at Eden Park this month.

After much reflection, back in August I advised the WISPA Board that I felt my chapter in WISPA’s story would come to a natural end with the successful staging of IWG 2022, and the handover of the IWG Secretariat and World Conference to new hosts, the United Kingdom. The moment is perfect for new leadership and fresh ideas. I am very excited for Nicky, she very much deserves this opportunity. I look forward to supporting her transition.”

Rachel will lead the delivery of the upcoming WISPA AGM on 14 December 2022, and then hand to Nicky to carry the baton forward into 2023.

Julie Paterson and Sarah Leberman MNZM, said: “The WISPA Board unanimously supported the decision to appoint Nicky to the role of Acting CEO, in recognition of her exceptional service and commitment to the WISPA kaupapa over the past 2.5 years. With a new strategic direction ready for launch at the AGM, we’re confident that Nicky is the right person to lead us forward in this new chapter.

“We thank Rachel for the energy, passion and commitment she has brought to WISPA as our inaugural CEO. She has been tireless in her commitment to delivering our IWG commitments on the world stage, whilst also building WISPA’s reputation as a positive, impactful partner to the domestic sports system.”


WISPA, from 2016 until today:

WISPA was established in late 2016 by 22 original Foundation Members: wāhine toa from across sport, business, academia and media, including respected Māori leaders. A strategic plan was immediately put in place with a vision to see ‘women and girls valued, visible and influential in sport and recreation’.

Over its first 18 months, WISPA was run by a group of senior volunteers, including co-founders and current co-chairs, Julie Paterson and Sarah Leberman MNZM. The organisation was launched on UN International Women’s Day in March 2017, and advocacy initiatives got underway. WISPA also designed and staged the ‘She Moves, She Leads, We Win’ Conference in partnership with the Shift Foundation.

In parallel, WISPA developed and led the winning bid to host International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport 2022 – 2026 quadrennial, with resource and support from Sport New Zealand, Ihi Aotearoa; Tātaki Auckland Unlimited; the NZ Olympic Committee; Tourism NZ; Aktive Auckland; the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE); and the New Zealand Ministry for Women.

This win was swiftly followed by another key role, assisting Sport New Zealand, Ihi Aotearoa to write and launch its new ‘Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation’ strategy, which included a commitment to supporting the IWG World Conference. It was during this phase that Rachel joined, contributing to the government work and moving to build the organisation and deliver on its local and global ambitions.

Between 2018 and 2022, WISPA launched a range of domestic initiatives and campaigns to encourage prioritisation and to elevate the position of women and girls within the domestic sport and recreation system. In addition to year-round advocacy with system leaders and through media outreach, WISPA continued to engage with government, regularly consulting on key projects including media analysis.

Nicky came on board mid-way through this period and had an immediate impact, leading delivery of the Sport NZ Women + Girls Summit from 2019 – 2021, in partnership with the Shift Foundation. She also contributed to an array of other initiatives, including the launch the Whanake o te Kōpara leadership programme for young women aged 19 to 25, and she ran a bespoke ‘Bats for Six’ leadership programme for a younger cohort, held over six weeks in partnership with the 2022 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup.

This work culminated in the recent staging the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport between 14 – 17 November 2022, the world’s largest gathering to advance gender equity and equality in sport and physical activity worldwide. A full capacity of 1,200 global and local leaders attended in person, with more than 500 joining virtually. This event concluded Aotearoa New Zealand’s role as host to the International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport Secretariat 2018 – 2022, with Rachel passing over her role as Secretary General and remit to the new IWG United Kingdom Secretariat 2022 – 2026.


IWG 2018-2022

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