Staff & Board

Staff  | The Board | and those we work closely with such as interpreters

Our mission is to provide specialist mental health services for refugees who have experienced trauma and torture, and to provide support and capacity building for their families and communities.


Jeff Thomas, General Manager

Jeff Thomas, General Manager

Jeff Thomas, General Manager

Jeff has a B. Sc (Hons) in Applied Behavioural Science and a Diploma in Youth and Community Work. He worked in social services, initially in youth and community work, then relationship counselling, group work and training. This was followed by several management roles for not for-profit social service organisations, including being the CEO of two national organisations. Jeff was appointed General Manager of Refugee Trauma Recovery, formerly Wellington Refugees as Survivors, in December 2006.

Francesca Faggioli, Clinical Manager

Francesca has a Post Graduate Diploma in Psychotherapy and a Masters Degree in Psychology with a major in Clinical Psychology, both from Italy. She has NZ Registration as a Clinical Psychologist. Francesca arrived in NZ from Italy to take up a role as a counsellor/advocate with R T R in January 2015.  Francesca was appointed  Clinical Manager in February 2016.

Angela Morgenstern, Counsellor

Angela came to New Zealand from her native Germany in 1994. She is a NZ qualified counsellor (B.Csl Weltec NZAC) who has been working with a wide variety of clients from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. She has a special interest in trauma,anxiety, and PTSD. Angela joined our team in 2005, and works with adults and youth clients four days a week.

Lorraine Christie, Counsellor

Lorraine has over 40 years experience in the Mental Health field, including receiving her masters in Clinical Psychology from Victoria University. She feels privileged using her experience to help our highly deserving clients, and believes that the extreme trauma and loss they have faced is beyond the imagination of most New Zealanders. Lorraine joined our team in 2005 and works one day a week.

Lorraine Singh, Specialist Counsellor

Lorraine has experience as a specialist counsellor with Southland DHB’s Child Adolescent and Family Service in both Invercargill and Gore, and for Parenthelp Wellington. She works individually with children, adults and parents, utilizing family therapy techniques as a way ofsupporting families. She has a Certificate in Theory of Psychotherapy, Comprehensive Diploma in Nursing, is a member of NZAC, and affiliate member of the New Zealand Association of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapists Association (NZACAP). Lorraine joined our team in June 2009, and works 3.5 days a week.

Gina Sembrano, Counsellor

Gina is a clinical psychologist of Filipino origin but originally came to New Zealand as an Italian citizen. Gina obtained her Master’s Degree in Psychology and degree in advance Graduate Studies in Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy for Children and Adolescents in Rome. Prior to joining RTR  in 2016, Gina worked for Refugees As Survivors NZ in Auckland. Gina works 3 and a half days a week.

Andrea Witkowski, Administrator

Andrea has worked as a lawyer for both the public and private sectors. She has focused on our compliance and data collection, and supports management in a variety of ways. Andrea joined our team in September 2010, and works three days a week.

Jon Blackshaw Social Worker

Jon began in the RTR  new role of Social Worker in June 2015. Before coming to R T R he worked as a Social Worker with CYF Care and Protection, Open Home Foundation, Cannons Creek Whanau Centre and Kenepuru Hospital. He was also a Health Advocate with Compass Heath PHO for 6 years. Jon is a registered Social Worker with the ANZASW and as well as his social work qualification of – Bachelor of Social Work (1st Class Hons) from Massey University, he also has a Graduate Diploma of Business Administration (Management) also from Massey University, and a Graduate Diploma of Bi-Cultural Supervision from  Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

Consultant Psychiatrist

Dr John Lambe has worked at RTR as a consultant psychiatrist since September 2016.

Massage Therapist

Lisa Polaczuk is a qualified and experienced Massage Therapist who draws on international and national training and experience to provide appropriate body work for R T R clients.

The Board

As a charitable trust, Refugee Trauma Recovery is governed by a Board of Trustees. The current Board is:

Heather Hayden, Chair

CEO of Save The Children New Zealand; appointed to the Board in Feb 2013 and became Board Chair in April 2013.

Helen Algar

Consultant with twenty years’ experience in public sector senior management, and then ten years concurrently serving on boards and as a consultant. Appointed to the Board in 2011.

 Dennis Maang

A former refugee from Myanmar, Dennis works for Red Cross as a resettlement Caseworker and Cultural Advisor. Last year he graduated with a bachelor of Social Work. Dennis was appointed to the Board April 2015.

Megan Thomas

Has her own Consultancy (Kolthoff Thomas Ltd) who offer a range of services around strategic planning, developing outcomes frameworks, the collective impact model and financial sustainability. Megan was appointed to the Board April 2015.

Kristine Ford

Kristine was appointed to the Board in May 2015, and  works with Presbyterian Support as an Enliven Project Manager.

Organisations we work closely with

These seven other organisations provide specific but different services to refugees. All of us work together to meet the needs of our clients. For more information on our supporting organisations, view their sites below:

NZRedCrossNew Zealand Red Cross

ELPlogo English Language Partners

MCLaSSlogoMulticultural Learning and Support Service

INZlogo Interpreting Wellington

changemakerslogo ChangeMakers Refugee Forum

RFUTrust Refugee Family Reunification Trust

Comm Law Wellington Community Law Centre