Our Team

The staff team is responsible for the day-to-day operations of RainbowYOUTH.


Frances Arns

Executive Director
(She/Her)


While I was born in Wellington, I spent most of my childhood (and now adult life) in Auckland. In the middle of that, I spent four years (from age 14-18) at a boarding school called Iona in the Hawke’s Bay.

When I finished school I did a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Accounting and Management at the University of Auckland. From there I spent three years at ASB, working in a variety of roles across strategy and finance, and chairing ASB’s LGBTI network group. Working with RainbowYOUTH through the Unity group exposed me to the incredible work RY does, and gave me the chance to meet some of the great people running and supporting the organisation.

Having had a privileged upbringing as a queer person in Aoteroa, I want to use my skills and experience to help support queer and gender diverse youth, and continue working towards achieving RainbowYOUTH’s vision. The organisation is already having such a huge impact, and I am excited to see what the future holds for us!

Outside of work, I love experimenting with vegetarian and vegan food, and I have a side project making and selling vegan pies. I’ll also admit that my guilty pleasure is watching Shortland Street.


Victoria Trow

Support Manager
(They/Them)

I grew up in Ngatea in the Hauraki Plains, but I call Tāmaki Makaurau my home now.

My background is in secondary school teaching and tutoring, as well as post-graduate degrees in palaeo-osteology. I first got into supporting queer and gender diverse people through volunteering at Outline, and I am excited that in my role here I can smoosh together my passion for supporting young people and rainbow people.

Outside of work my partner and I collect cats (the current count is four), live the D&D lifestyle, and can typically be found binging Netflix, playing video games, or attempting a needlessly complicated dinner recipe.


Pooja Subramanian

Communications and Engagement Manager
(She/Her)

I'm originally from India and grew up in the Middle East, I've been living in Tāmaki Makaurau since 2004. My background is in Sociology and Fine Arts, and I've previously worked as a youth worker with victims of family violence.

In my spare time I love making extravagant dinners, eating snacks, and watching terrible TV shows. I'm super excited to be part of the RY whānau!



Alice Dawson

Support Coordinator
(She/Her)

I’ve been involved with RainbowYOUTH for all of my teen years – I started attending the group GQ when I was 13 where I met some great people including some of the staff I work with now. Once I was too old for that group I volunteered in the RY Drop-in Center and somehow wound up where I am now. I know, it confuses me too.

Right now I am studying Mental Health and Addiction Support at Unitech, and I’m doing my work experience placement at RY.

Any time I have free, I’m probably training. I do HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) and MMA, I love to train and learn about the history and techniques of Martial arts.


Min Khanthee

Community Engagement Coordinator
(She/Her)

My formal education is in Psychology. In the past, I have worked in the Disability Sector as a Support Worker, and later as a Teacher Aide at a Specialist School. I’m very passionate about accessibility, and last year I completed the Be.Leadership program. 

I have volunteered for a number of RainbowYOUTH events in the past, and helped out with the I’m Local Project. I enjoyed it so much so that I’ve stuck around! Now as the Volunteer Coordinator, I’m grateful to be in a position where I can develop volunteer opportunities for others. 

In my spare time, you’ll either find me travelling, surfing, at the Buddhist centre, spending time with friends, napping, learning the keyboard, studying astrology, practicing French, or attempting to do everything at once!


Ally Wilson

Grants Coordinator
(She/Her)

My name is Alice, but due to too many Alices in the office I go by the name Ally. I have recently escaped the corporate world of Auckland Council to come and work for RainbowYOUTH as Grants Coordinator for two days a week.

As a bisexual trans woman I am a former service user of RainbowYOUTH and used to be on the board of Genderbridge, and have participated in a number of voluntary roles through my previous jobs to support the LGBTIQ community in Aotearoa.

In my spare time I am a gamer and sometimes an artist and wannabe Youtube animator, and I live with my partner Ruby and three other flatmates in Browns Bay on Auckland’s North Shore.


Chelle Andrews

Administration Coordinator
(She/Her)

A perpetual student at the University of Auckland, I can usually be found studying biology, rambling about chemistry or crying over astrophysics! I am passionate about biomedicine, astronomy, the vastness of the universe and the people that live on this lil blue dot.

I want to improve science communication and education and make it more accessible to all, alongside a general passion for improving society! At RainbowYOUTH I focus on ensuring the organisation's paperwork is always organised, filed and up-to-date.

Hobby-wise I spend too much time being invested in fictional universes, playing videogames, writing, making people stop to smell flowers, reading, and staring at the sky for hours on end.


Alesha Ahdar

Kaihautū o te Haerenga Hōu
(She/They)

Tēnā koutou katoa! Ko Ōwhawhē te maunga, ko Waitomo te awa, ko Tainui te waka, ko Ngāti Maniapoto te iwi, ko Ngāti Uekaha te hapū, ko Tokikapu te marae, he takatāpui wahine ahau - Tihei, Mauri Ora!

Nō Waikato ahau, engari kei te noho ahau ki Tāmaki Makaurau. Ko aku mahi matua ko te hanga kiriata, pouaka whakaata me te whare tapere. He tino nui kē tōku koa mo tēnei kaupapa!  


Alizaa Ara

Homelessness Advisor
(She/Her)

In my journey as a Mental Health Support Worker, I often came across youth from the Rainbow Community in crisis, and discovered that they experience unique circumstances contributing to homelessness, and additional barriers to accessing required support. Working with homeless youth from the Rainbow Community prompted my growing interest in developing interventions to address and minimise the risk of homelessness for this demographic in Aotearoa.

I have completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Gender Studies and volunteered at OUTLine during my studies. As a part of receiving a Summer Research Scholarship, I worked as a Research Assistant at The University of Auckland with the Social Work department on Māori and Pasifika student engagement.

I come from an Indian and Middle Eastern background and grew up in Central Auckland. I can be found dancing, doing yoga, or fostering my plant babies in my spare time. I enjoy mindfulness themed activities and cuddling fluffy creatures! 


Lee Grabarek

Support Worker: Gender Diverse Youth & Whānau
(They/Them or He/Him)

Kia ora! My name is Lee and I’m 25 years old. I am originally from the United States where I got my BA in social justice, youth studies, and gender studies. I previously worked as a sexual health educator for Auckland Sexual Health so I have spent a lot of my time working with community groups and high schoolers across Tāmaki Makaurau teaching about safer sex, gender identity, sexuality etc. In my spare time I love being active and outside--cycling, tramping, rock-climbing, running, going to the gym, you name it!


Oli Tapiki-Thorpe

Regional Coordinator: Bay of Plenty & Hauraki
(They/Them)

Kia ora! My name is Oli, and I’m the newest Bay of Plenty & Hauraki Regional Coordinator. I was born in Waihi, and spent the first four years of my life there. My family and I moved to Japan in 2004, where my dad got a teaching job, and where I did most of my growing up. We lived there until I was 10, which is when we made the move to Brunei Darussalam. I started learning more about who I was and how I identified, and came to the conclusion that in order for me to thrive and live as myself, I would have to come back to Aotearoa. So, when I was 16, fresh off of IGCSE exams, I moved to Kawerau to live with my nana. My mum moved back a couple months after me as well, and I started my last couple of years of highschool.

I was introduced to RY through my former school counsellor (and now friend) Chloe, and we quickly set up a school group. It ended up being fairly popular for such a small school, and it eventually turned into a community group that I ran for about 2 years. Having been a facilitator, I’m really excited to be stepping into a role where I get to support facilitators and help the groups thrive!



Sydney Heremaia

Northland Support Worker: Gender-Diverse Youth, Adults & Whānau

(Them/They/He/Him/She/Her)

Tēnā koutou katoa! Ko Tangihua te maunga, ko Wairoa te awa, ko Mahuhukiterangi te waka, ko Ngāti Whatua Nga Puhi te iwi, ko Te Parawhau te hapū, ko Tangiteroria te marae, he takatāpui ahau - Tihiwa, Mauri Ora!

Kiaora Whanau, my name is Sydney Heremaia. Born, raised and based in Whangarei, I am super excited and privileged to be the first Northland based RainbowYOUTH Team member to cover the Northland Region. I have a 20 year old son and two beautiful mokopuna.  

My background is in Social Services working in both NGO's and government agencies across New Zealand and Australia.  

In my spare time I write and play music with local musicians, am a member of the Whangarei Theatre Company and represent Northland in Badminton. I also have the cutest miniature labradoodle called Oscar. 



Our Executive Board

Our executive board are made up of volunteers under the age of 28. They work with our staff team to set the strategic direction of RY. Our board is elected every year by our membership at our Annual General Meeting.



Lucy Cowie

Co-Chairperson
(She/Her)

I’m a 24 year old queer cis woman from Auckland. My whānau come from Tauranga Moana and Greymouth, but I grew up in Auckland and have never really left. I’m currently studying to become a psychologist and work part time as a research assistant. In my spare time, I play social football, work on my tiny house, and watch trashy tv shows.


Tycho Vandenburg

Co-Chairperson
(They/Them)

Kia ora! I’m Tycho, a queer trans person who is currently completing a PhD in community psychology, exploring the lived experiences of homeless trans and gender diverse people. This work can be pretty tough, so I’ve found my antidote in playing video games, riding anything with two wheels, and co-parenting two rescued cat children. I've volunteered and worked for a range of non-profit organisations, and look forward to contributing towards RainbowYOUTH's organisational capacity, strategy, and sustainability with such an epic team. 


Joel Gatland

Treasurer
(They/Them)

I’m Joel, a genderqueer 26-year-old engineering student at AUT. I’m from East Auckland but grew up living in South East Asia and America with my family. I first got involved in RainbowYOUTH in 2010 and have been involved in different capacities since then. I love adventure and fill my down time by playing with my cats and refereeing with the Pirate City Rollers (a local Roller Derby league).


Taylor Mitchell

Secretary
(She/Her)

I'm Taylor, a 24 year old queer, cis woman who grew up and studied in Auckland, although have recently been away from NZ on and off for the past year while studying and working in London. I started this year as a graduate lawyer in environmental, resource management and planning law at Russell McVeagh and have a massive passion for the various intersections of environmentalism, feminism and LGBTTI+ issues. In my spare time, you can find me attempting to befriend the street cats of Eden Terrace, testing out new vego recipes and biking about town with my partner.


Cinnamon Lindsay

Tangata Whenua Representative
(She/Her)

Kia ora, my name is Cinnamon and I am a queer cis wahine (Ngāti Whatua, Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi). I am currently completing my masters in Psychology. My thesis explores the experiences of Māori mother’s at University and the importance of mātauranga wāhine Māori (Māori women’s knowledge’s). I work at the uni as a tutor, tuākana mentor and research assistant. In my spare time I like passionately (and poorly) lipsyncing, overpriced brunches and time with friends.


Micaella Stone

General Board Member
(She/Her)

I’m Micaella, a 22 year old student from Auckland. I love being outdoors, DIY projects and spending time with my partner and our four-legged family. I first got involved with RainbowYOUTH as very shy, very closeted sixteen year old. At seventeen, I became a facilitator for GQ, our under-18s peer support group. Since then I’ve thrown myself into the RY whānau – camping with Outside the Box, acting as a Rōpū leader at our most recent hui, featuring in several videos, and growing the presence of GQ.

Logan Hamley

General Board Member
(He/Him)

Ko Ruapehu te maunga, ko Whangaehu te awa, ko Ngāti Rangi, ko Ngāti Tui-o-Nuku te hapū, ko Maungārongo te marae, he takatāpui ahau. Ko André Lichtsteiner taku hoa rangatira. Kei te ako i te mātai hinengaro i te Whare Wānanga o Tāmaki-makau-rau.

Jessee Fia'Ali'i

General Board Member

(He/Him)

Tālofa lava! My name is Jessee Fia'Ali'i and I am a gay, cis male. I was born and raise din South Auckland. I attended school there before studying Psychology at the University of Auckland. Now that I am done with studies (for now), I've been cooking and reading more, and trying to learn how to play the guitar and piano - I know two and a half songs. I work in Mental Health in the Counties Manukau region and I am loving it! I'm very excited to be a part of the RainbowYOUTH whānau and I am keen to see where I can contribute. 



Our Executive Advisors

The Executive Board of RainbowYOUTH is supported by up to three Executive Advisors who are over 28 years old. These Executive Advisors support the board in their roles and participate in board meetings without voting rights.


Nick Laing

(He/Him)

I am really excited to have the opportunity to be part of the RY board in an adviser role. I am passionate about young people and I think that the work that RY does to provide safe spaces for young people to be themselves, and to develop and grow is awesome.

I’m from Auckland and live with my husband and our two griffons. I trained as a social worker and have worked in the health sector since, mostly in leadership roles for the past ten years. I’m currently General Manager Operations at New Zealand AIDS Foundation


Melody Fry

(She/Her)

I grew up in a fantastic small South Island town where I knew no-one else who was gay when I was growing up. This gave me direct insight into what a difference good community support can make to the lives of gender diverse young people. Now as a gay, married woman with two young kids, I am excited to be involved with Rainbow Youth and I am passionate about using my skills and experience to support our Rainbow community.

For most of my working life I have been involved in Banking and Financial Services. If I am not at work or spending time with my wife and kids, you will find me in the ocean either surfing or taking part in some other water-based activity. I love contributing to the RainbowYOUTH whānau and doing what I can to support the Rainbow community.