This morning the finalists for the 2018 Blind Foundation STAR Awards have been announced. The STAR Awards recognise the Blind Foundation’s star employees and volunteers.

Chief Executive Sandra Budd said: “The entries were especially competitive this time around, making it a tough job for our judges to decide on a shortlist. In some categories, the nominations were so exceptional we have ended up with more finalists than we normally allow.

“As always, reviewing the nominations is incredibly enjoyable and I look forward to selecting the winners together with Board Chair Rick Hoskin and external judge Selwyn Cook.

Selwyn owns several Z Petrol stations in Hamilton and has employed a number of people with disabilities, including several Blind Foundation clients. He is now Z’s diversity ambassador and works closely with Workbridge.

Sandra said: “I would like to say a big congratulations to our finalists. You are an exceptional team to work with, and I look forward to celebrating with you all later in February.”

Congratulations to the following:


Andy Beale, Christchurch,

Michael Field, Auckland,

Angela Moore, Auckland,

Liz Wright, Auckland.

Innovation and Improvement

  • Liz Gately – Taylor, Orthoptist, Wellington,
  • Sue Vyas, Volunteer Service Advisor, Auckland,
  • Jen Mey, Client Services Management Team Administrator, Auckland.

Customer/Client Service

  • Kelly O’Donnell, Recreation and Volunteer Coordinator, Hamilton
  • Briony Whatling, Vet Care Advisor, Guide Dogs Auckland
  • Fatima Akehurst, Pacific Services Coordinator, Fale Auckland

Top Team

  • Travel Centre Team,
  • Counselling Team,
  • Community Life Enrichment (CLE) Team.

Role Model/Leader

  • Genna Saifiti, Accessible Formats Facilitator, Auckland,
  • Lloyd Ellison, Deaf Blind Practice Advisor, Christchurch,
  • Sue Vyas, Volunteer Service Advisor, Auckland.


  • Maria Stevens, Production Team Manager, Auckland,
  • Chantelle Griffiths, Braille Awareness Coordinator, Auckland,
  • Theresa Liebenberg, Relationship Manager, Auckland,
  • Jen Thompson, Campaigns Assistant, Auckland.


  • Claire Fitzgerald, Practice Advisor – Orthoptist, Wellington,
  • Jelena Zidov, Policy Analyst, Auckland,
  • Deb Nash, CLE Regional Leader – North, Auckland,
  • Community Life Enrichment (CLE) Team.

The awards will be held in the morning of Wednesday 28 February in Auckland.