The Youth Mentoring Network

About Us

Our People


The New Zealand Youth Mentoring Network (NZYMN) is a "charitable trust" who works alongside those that work with young people. We are governed by a voluntary board of trustees with extensive experience in working with young people. Our General Manager works with a team of dedicated contractors to deliver on our organisational objectives.


Ann Dunphy (MNZM) MA (Hons)

Based at the University of Auckland's Epsom campus since 1999, following 13 years as principal of Auckland's Penrose High School, Ann maintains the commitment to quality educational opportunities for lower-decile students that has been her life's work. She began teaching in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, then held senior leadership positions at both of the secondary schools in Otara.

During her years of principalship, Ann became convinced of the importance of community partnerships especially in mentoring, to enhance the life-chances of young people, so in 2000 co-founded the Auckland Youth Mentoring Association, which has now been developed into The Youth Mentoring Network.

General Manager

Joy Eaton (BA, DipSM, DipTchg)

Joy started her career in education as a geography and social studies teacher at Tangaroa College and then moved to Waitakere College. She has held a number of senior management roles in mid-low decile schools, including four years as principal at Henderson High School in West Auckland. As the Deputy Director of Auckland University’s Starpath Project she furthered her understanding of student pathways to degree-level study.

Joy has a deep academic interest in the role of hope in the sustainability of innovation and change as we work to build a cohesive, healthy society.

Joy was a trustee from 2012 to 2018 when she took the role of NZYMN General Manager.


Nicki McDonald (MBA)

With a background in the commercial sector and not-for-profit sector, Nicki brings a unique skill-set to our charitable trust.  She started her career working for a large United States Information Technology corporate.  This provided Nicki with a broad base of skills and experience across all aspects of a commercial business environment from training and support to marketing and sales. 

Nicki moved into the not-for-profit sector in 2001, taking up the role of General Manager of First Foundation (2003 – 2009). The Foundation is charitable trust offering scholarship and mentoring to young people attending low decile schools who are transitioning to tertiary studies.  Nicki held the position of General Manager for the New Zealand Youth Mentoring Network from 2012 to 2018. When she moved to the South Island she handed over to Joy Eaton. She continues to provide financial and administrative support to the Network.   


Dr Pat Bullen, PhD

Dr Pat Bullen is a Senior Lecturer specialising in youth development and youth mentoring in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland. Her research and teaching focus on the factors that contribute to thriving during adolescence, particularly during times of transition. Central to Pat’s work is how research can be applied to enhance the human condition, by informing policy and practice. 

Christian Belmont

Christian Belmont is a dedicated advocate for youth development and mentoring, serving as the Project and Compliance Manager at the Liger Leadership Academy. With a passion for project-based learning, Christian works directly with students, empowering them as change-agents to create impact themselves. As the Secretary of the Board at the Academy and Founding Director of Youth Philanthropy New Zealand, Christian brings not-for-profit leadership experience and a passion for equipping young individuals with the entrepreneurial tools to become effective non-profit board governors.

What sets Christian apart is his unique perspective as a youth himself - currently in his early twenties. With firsthand experience navigating the challenges of the 21st century, Christian brings fresh insights to the New Zealand Youth Mentoring Network, ensuring it remains responsive to the evolving needs of young people.

As a trustee, Christian Belmont's commitment to youth empowerment and his expertise in mentoring contribute to creating a supportive environment for the next generation. With his role at the Liger Leadership Academy, his involvement with Youth Philanthropy New Zealand, and his role on the board at the NZYMN, Christian actively works towards empowering young individuals and fostering positive change in the field of youth development.

Connor Bourne

Connor is a dedicated advocate for empowering young minds and is thrilled to serve as a trustee for NZYMN. With a passion for making a positive impact on youth in Aotearoa, Connor has nearly a decade of experience in the mentoring field as a programme manager, coordinator and mentor. He believes that youth mentoring is crucial for guiding and supporting young people, helping them develop essential life skills, providing personalised guidance, that all help amplify their self-esteem and potential.

Hilary Dutton (PhD Education)

Hilary (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa) is an academic, currently based in the Faculty of Education at the University of Canterbury, who specialises in youth mentoring and youth development research. Her research interest is inspired by her own experience as a youth mentor, and focuses on the development of high quality mentoring relationships.

Hilary works with the Aotearoa youth sector to build strong knowledge and research links between university and community. She has contributed to the NZYMN’s Guide to Effective and Safe Practice, as well as Ngā Tikanga Whānaketanga: He Arotake Tuhinga for Ara Taiohi.

Michelle Johansson (BA, GradDipTchg, GradDipTESSOL, MA (Hons), PG Dip Arts (Merit), MProfStuds (Hons), PhD Creative Practice)

rsz_11mjohansson_landscape_finalMichelle is a Tongan mother, theatre-maker and educator. She serves as Kaitiaki at Ako Mātātupu: Teach First NZ, growing exceptional people to teach in low-decile schools. She is Kaiwhakahaere at Māia Centre for Social Justice and Education and the Creative Director of the Black Friars.

South Auckland, decile-one born and bred, she is proud to work alongside amazing teachers, warriors, storytellers and change-makers to re-story Pasifika in the largest Polynesian city in the world, to activate indigenous knowledges, to grow future leaders and to hold courageous spaces for our young people to walk tall in all of their worlds.

Chris Sullivan (BEd)

Chris Sullivan

Chris currently leads business development at Springboard Trust, is a director of Ako Matatupu – Teach First New Zealand, and runs his own consultancy. He brings experiences as an experienced director, consultant, general manager and project manager and more than 15 years of experience working with public, private, and not-for-profit clients. His areas of expertise include learning design, change management, stakeholder and partner management in new and established teams and organisations.

Chris has worked in a range of sectors including education, the arts sector, publishing, B2B, youth and health. His interests include the outdoors, travel and playing the guitar and piano.

Deb Cane

Bio to be added