Monday, February 26, 2024

Sims bows out after 13 years at AWDT

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Years at Agri-Women’s Development Trust a story of growth and transformation.
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The new year started with an ending for Lisa Sims, who has concluded a long association with the Agri-Women’s Development Trust.

After 13 years working with AWDT, the past five as general manager, Sims said “it’s time for me to step away”.

Sims has been instrumental in empowering women to lead positive change in their lives, businesses, communities, organisations, sectors and New Zealand Inc. 

“Much progress has been made,” she said.

“It’s been a privilege to work alongside committed people whose professionalism, grace and agility made a genuine difference and impact on the world when it mattered.

“I’m proud of our incredible team and what’s been achieved. 

“Our hard work and can-do attitude have been vital and rewarding through some unimaginably tumultuous times.

“Over five years, we dug in and delivered more than 200 development programmes that impacted the lives of more than 3600 people, with another 1500 being connected through webinars and forums.”
Sims said she has been constantly humbled and inspired by the people who signed up for programmes, turned up, finished up, then stepped up to lead themselves and others, leading by their actions, however small, and building networks and connections that ripple throughout Aotearoa.

“There are countless stories of growth and transformation.” 

Women who stood for election to big board positions, experienced failure, began again, succeeded and created positive change were an example of this, she said.

Another was the manaakitanga of the Wāhine o te Whenua graduate and her whānau who hosted the next year’s ropu and wānanga at her marae.

Then there was the courage of the young woman who drove from Wellington to Hamilton for Generation Change and the man who encouraged to explore her potential.

Other stories of growth include: 

• The woman who bought a farm with her partner because she followed the pathway set on programme a few years earlier.

• The farmer shifting fencing breaks while hooked up to his headphones, learning online with the AWDT team and his.

• Women who suffered from the cyclone then had the courage to take time out for themselves, and in doing so, grew from adversity.

• The young shepherd who had the guts to share his struggles online, showing others they were not alone. Then shared his new skills with his team.

• Working with a new generation of AWDT daughters and whānau.

“Thank you AWDT partners and collaborators for your trust, confidence and ongoing support of the kaupapa,” Sims said.

She said she is satisfied that she has left AWDT well placed for whatever comes next, with a range of sustainable and evolving programmes and a capable, purpose-led team of staff, contractors and facilitators.

“I’m deeply grateful for the support and guidance from my coaches, mentors, friends, and lessons learnt.

For the moment, it’s family time for Sims on their Eketāhuna farm – “rediscovering my kitchen and, if I’m allowed, a last-minute chance to help the boss [husband Tom] here with weaning, before another new chapter when our farm is leased in April”. 

“We’re staying put in our family home which means I get to keep my morning farm walks.”

Sims, who was appointed to lead the operations of the AWDT trust in November 2018, was an integral part of AWDT since day one when the charitable trust was launched at Parliament in 2010.

Previously her business in strategic communications and community leadership spanned international government relations, promoting NZ red meat in Japan and leading communications and engagement for her own diverse range of clients in both the private and public sectors.   

“I’ve definitely got more to give,” she said. 

“I’ll take time over the next couple of months to see what form that takes as I turn my focus and energy to where I can next contribute to the growth of rural communities.”


In Focus Podcast: Full Show | 2 February 

Bryan talks with Dr John Caradus, chief executive of Grasslanz, about the growing calls to revisit our laws around genetic modification and editing. The European Union recently passed a major upgrade to its laws and Caradus says we’re now the only nation in the world working under such a strict regime. 

Federated Farmers president Wayne Langford also discusses his plan to bring the various farming voices together as Team Ag. 

And, senior reporter Richard Rennie discusses some new research that could bring good news to mānuka hone producers and also takes a look at how Hawke’s Bay fruit growers are faring.

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