Agri-Women's Development Trust

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Our Team

Our friendly and professional management team is based at our office in Eketahuna. We are supported by our team of expert facilitators and advisors based throughout New Zealand.

AWDT graduates feature strongly in our team. Not only do they bring their own expertise, but having completed one or more of our programmes, they understand, first-hand, the power of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with like-minded women to provide a rich learning experience.

Meet our team

We’re here to help – read about each of our roles here. Because we all help each other out in our busy office, when you phone us (06 375 8180) any one of us may answer the phone.

  • Lisa Sims
  • Lindy Nelson
  • Keri Holmwood
  • Rachel Smith
  • Tessa Appleby
  • Jo Kerslake
  • Lisa Sims - General Manager

    Lisa has played a key role in shaping our vision through her communication and engagement work with AWDT since 2010. Appointed as General Manager in November 2018, she brings 30 years of deep experience in strategic communications, business and community leadership in multiple sectors. As an member of our Escalator Alumni and one of our culture keepers, she values positive, longstanding relationships based on trust and mutual understanding.  Lisa is a partner with her husband in their sheep and beef farming business near Eketahuna where they have raised their four young adult children. 

  • Lindy Nelson - Product Development & Quality

    Lindy’s passion and drive to develop and support women in primary industries has seen AWDT and its graduates grow and flourish since 2010. 

    As our Founder, Lindy brings a wealth of knowledge and experience amassed through her personal experience, research and the development of AWDT, its programmes and people. 

    She leads development of the our growing number of programmes and oversees quality of all AWDT programmes.  Lindy is also Programme Director for the Escalator programme.  Lindy’s extensive and ongoing research underpins her ground-breaking work to empower and support women in primary industries reach their potential. 

    Lindy has been farming with her husband for more than 28 years, having moved to the farm from a city background when she faced the challenges that many rural women face today.

  • Keri Holmwood - Coordinator UYFB, WMWW, Future Focus

    Keri is your first point of contact for enquiries about our RMPP-funded Understanding Your Farming Business, Wāhine Māia Wāhine Whenua and Future Focus programmes delivered across New Zealand.

    Keri joined AWDT in October 2018 to support our Programme Manager and facilitation teams with the successful planning and delivery of the programmes, along with handling all programme logistics and supporting communication.

    With an extensive background in customer service and hospitality, Keri relishes the chance to help ensure that our participants receive quality support and deep satisfaction from their time with us. 

  • Rachel Smith - Finance & Special Projects

    As a longstanding member of our team since 2012, Rachel has worked in a variety of roles and has rich knowledge of our culture, people, systems and processes.

    She is currently our Financial Administrator and Board Secretary, as well as managing our Sustainable Farming Fund research project which aims to provide new groups of women with new development opportunities.

    Rachel has a Bachelor of Business Studies in Communications Management and farms a small herd of bulls with her husband and two children in Bideford near Masterton. 

  • Tessa Appleby - Programme Manager

    Tess is the Programme Manager for our Escalator, Next Level, It's all about YOU and the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Farmer Council programme.

    Tess has an agri-business background with experience in business development, tertiary education within the rural sector and events as the Contest Manager for the 2019 FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest.

    She studied the Massey University Diploma in Agriculture and then went on to work in shearing gangs in Western Australia before returning to New Zealand to continue her rural career.

  • Jo Kerslake - Programme Manager - UYFB, WMWW, Future Focus

    Jo is the programme manager for our RMPP programmes, Understanding Your Farm Business, Future Focus and Wahine Maia Wahine Whenua.

    She has an agri-science and business consulting background, from which she has transitioned into business management and governance.

    Jo leads by understanding the opportunity or issues at hand and bringing the right people and skill sets together to deliver effective outcomes. She is very aware of the importance of attracting, developing, and retaining the best talent in the rural sector. She believes that people form the foundation of any great business, and actively seeks ways to create high performing environments, which allow businesses to drive innovation forward.

Strategic Partners

Programme Partners