Our people

The Ministry’s capability derives from the quality of its direction and strategy, leadership, knowledge and skills, relationships, and its systems and processes.

The Ministry’s leadership team, led by the Chief Executive, is committed to achieving the Ministry’s vision of better outcomes for women. The Ministry’s staff have in-depth private and public sector experience, specialist knowledge and strong links with a wide range of external stakeholders.  This knowledge, experience, and contacts assists staff to develop the best policy advice and implement outcomes which provide better results for New Zealanders. 

Chief Executive

Renee Graham has been appointed Chief Executive of the Ministry for Women. She was previously Policy Director at the Ministry of Education. Ms Graham has a strong background in leading complex strategic policy development in both the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Development.

As well as her policy expertise, Ms Graham also has experience in operational roles in Work and Income, before moving into project and management positions after starting her career as a frontline case manager. Ms Graham is a skilled public service senior leader with a track record of successfully leading the development of solutions to complex policy issues.

Ms Graham has been appointed for a three-year term commencing on 19 June 2017. Ms Graham is of Ngāti Toa and Ngāti Raukawa descent.

Leadership team

Kirsty Anderson - Director, Communications and Stakeholder Engagement 

Kirsty leads the Ministry’s communications activities. This involves oversight of the Ministry’s website, publications, social media, and corporate documents.  Kirsty has worked in senior roles in communications for number of public and private sector organisations. 

Lis Cowey - Director Policy

Lis has had a number of cross-system, strategy and policy leadership roles in New Zealand, Australia and the UK. She was formely a Principal Advisor leading diversity and inclusion at the Treasury and has worked most recently before that at MBIE, Economic Development, Department of Labour and Martin Jenkins. She has a Master of Arts in International Relations, specialising in comparative politics, and a Diploma of Secondary Teaching. In 2015 she was awarded an LDC Fellowship to study overseas models of leadership in public sector innovation. She is an Alumnus of the Ministry for Women, having worked here in the 90s on women’s tertiary education and training, as well as having worked in the counterpart Office of Women’s Affairs in Victoria, Australia, and Department of Human Services on violence against women and women’s health.

Peter Noble - Director, Corporate Services

Peter leads the corporate services of the Ministry including: nominations service; finance, planning and reporting; information services; property; human resources; ministerial services and corporate services.  Peter comes from the Department of Conservation where he lead similar corporate services functions.  He also has experience in sustainability management, leading ICT and call centre services and market research.  He has had mixed background of both private and public sector experience.

Margaret Retter - Director, Policy 

Margaret leads the Ministry’s policy advice on women’s skills, employment, and income and leadership. She has a strong background in the public service with particular focus in policy and archives management. 

Helen Potiki - Director, Policy

Helen is on secondment with the Department of Internal Affairs. Helen has led the Ministry’s policy work on violence against Women and New Zealand’s international reporting obligations on the status of women.  Helen has 15 years’ experience in central government policy and has represented New Zealand in several international forums, including as the New Zealand Government’s lead negotiator at the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations. Helen is has currently working on a Leadership Development Centre fellowship examining flexible working arrangements.