Future Leaders is a contracted service provider to the Ministry of Social Development, delivering employment placement services (EPS) in the Waikato and Wellington regions of New Zealand. Our programs take a holistic and end-to-end approach to facilitate sustainable employment and training outcomes for our rangatahi and other Job Seekers. We have worked with over 500 clients since 2014, supporting them to gain sustainable employment and we proudly achieve over 80% sustainable career outcomes annually. 

Future Leaders Academy was established in 2013 to provide a service to the New Zealand Government in the youth development sector, taking a holistic and end-to-end approach to facilitating sustainable employment outcomes. Since then we have grown our efforts to bring leadership history, effectiveness and practices from the military to the civilian world across NZ, Australia and the Pacific Islands. Strength from multi-cultural unity is an asset to any team, and we foster that connection and understanding.
From self-leadership to team leadership our emphasis is on equipping people with the skills and tools that will help them lead themselves or a team effectively, assert positive influence, deliver successful and productive results.
Our team is made up of people with extensive business and youth development experience, who are experts at delivering training and mentoring in an interactive, engaging, meaningful and of course - experiential way.
We've all seen the results of inaction, injustice, disadvantage and a lack of access and direction. From lost productivity in one setting to desperate personal situations in other settings. Together we can all positively contribute to our communities, whatever that might mean to you.
It just so happens that our experience comes from the military, the youth development sector and corporate world. This unique combination of experience and values is what leads us to deliver our current range of programs, courses and activities across the Pacific Region. However, as an adaptable and agile organisation, the how to our why is always a work in progress. Most importantly we know we can't do it all on our own, and the true power of change is the positive influence we can help champion.

Our Team

Jethro Gilbert
Founder and Chief Instructor

Jethro has had a broad and varied career, and is based between NZ & Australia. A head prefect at high school, he went on to work in sales and account management roles, while developing a secondary career as an officer in the NZ Army Reserve Force. During this time, Jethro led a team of youth development instructors at the Limited Service Volunteer programme which helped inspire the start-up of Future Leaders Academy. Having seen plenty of hardship while growing up, coupled with poor examples of leadership in the wider community, he aims to be a champion of change.

Davina Marr
Co-founder and Advisor

Being part of the journey since the beginning, Davina has influenced the way we think about positive mindsets and the power of self-confidence. An expert in her field, Davina is also the Director of Marrzipan Drama, and ensures that Future Leaders maintains its action oriented approach to the work we do and brings great entrepreneurial insight for our many ideas.

Erin Carver
Operations Manager

Erin has been with Future Leaders Academy since 2016. With an extensive career in office management and administration in both the public and private sectors she brings her super organisational skills to help support our team and ensure excellent service delivery of our programmes and servicesThinking ahead, championing initiative and adapting to the many hats of our organisation are all in a days work for her. She is passionate about her family and art and has a true desire to see a better life for all people.

Jay Berwick
Team Leader
Youth Development & Support Services

Originally from Fiji, Jay has been involved with youth development for over a decade and brings a wealth or experience and a genuine approach to Future Leaders Academy. He cares deeply about the well-being of young people, and aims to help give them the direction and support opportunities they need to succeed. He has a passion for embedding culture and traditional methods in our training programs.

John-Paul Taute
Youth Employment Mentor
Leadership Instructor

JP brings 10 years of experience in the military, with six years as a team leader. He has worked extensively in the youth sector as a leadership instructor and mentor. His passion for sport and fitness are an asset to our training courses, and aims to develop in our potential leaders, the practical skills they need to lead themselves and their teams.

Manaia Opai
Youth Employment Mentor

Manaia has led corporate sales teams in Wellington for 15 years ,with previous roles including Regional Sales Manager with Southern Cross Health Society, Courier Post and the Freightways Group. He has coached and managed junior sports teams in rugby, basketball and touch. Manaia is a firm believer in helping people discover what truly motivates them, supporting their personal development and ultimately realising their potential. 

Catherine O'Neill
Youth Employment Mentor

Catherine joined our Waikato team in March 2019 having worked previously in a Supported Employment role. She has extensive experience working with youth, both in New Zealand and in Ireland where she lived for 20 years. Catherine has an education background and has worked in many roles with disengaged youth, adults returning to education, special education and tutoring carpentry apprentices. She is driven to supporting our rangatahi by opening up opportunities to help them to realise not just who they are, but who they can be.

Megan Lugg
Programme Coordinator

Originally from England, Megan studied Sport and Physical Education at university. She spent 3 years in the Police on the front line then moved to New Zealand for the outdoors lifestyle. Megan has experience teaching sports and PE in schools, tertiary education tutoring as well as designing and implementing community recreation programmes. She loves sport and fitness and has a passion for working with young people, empowering and 

supporting them to be the best they can be. 

Jeremy Murray
Youth Employment Mentor

Born and raised in the Waikato region from which he has tribal links, Jeremy has a passion for working with youth spanning 20 years. He has professional experience within the Youth Development, Health, Sport and Fitness, Disabilities, Education and Tribal Sectors. Jeremy lived in Australia working with youth in Queensland, in the Child Protection and Disabilities Sector. Helping people has been Jeremy's life passion and he is excited to bring this to Future Leaders Academy to help develop young leaders of the future.

Hikitia Tuoro
Youth Coach

Passionate about empowering young people and their families to succeed, Hikitia is the newest addition to our Future Leaders whanau. Originally from the far north, Hikitia has 10 years experience in case management and programme coordinator roles with the Ministry of Social Development, as well as 3 years experience working as an Employment Coach in the Waikato region. Hikitia has a genuine and sincere care for people and the drive and tenacity to help them thrive and prosper in all areas of their lives.

Melissa Bethwaite
Marketing Coordinator

As our Marketing Coordinator Melissa is focussed on ensuring more young people can access our programmes by increasing engagement and promoting our employment and youth services.

Melissa is passionate about marketing and has enjoyed working in marketing roles across a number of industries including information technology, accommodation, hospitality, education and events. Outside of work Melissa enjoys gardening, bush walking, grocery shopping and taxiing her small people around.

Colin Kennedy
Strategic Advisor

Originally from Ireland, Colin arrived in New Zealand 15 years ago. He has 20 years’ experience of working in the education sector across a variety of different interfaces and countries. He is currently the Head of Partnerships & Innovation, at Creative HQ. Previously Colin has worked with Young Enterprise NZ, in the global migration and exchange of ideas as the Director of Programmes and Engagement at Fulbright NZ; lectured in Development Studies, and was Head of Student Recruitment at the Victoria University of Wellington. Colin also currently sits on the Advisory Board for Education Trust. ​

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