Meet the Team

Willa Hand

In 2019 Willa’s youngest son Emerson lost his hearing as a result of illness and is now profoundly deaf aided by Cochlear.  It was finding her way to her first APODC event, Camp 2020 that provided Willa and her whanau the connection into the deaf community  she was looking for! 

Coming from a hearing family, Willa has spoken of the benefits of meeting and engaging with other parents, learning about the community and making connections that support Emerson as he grows. 

Willa joined the committee in 2020 and in 2021 was elected as President. She is excited to progress the great work done by the committee in recent years, connecting families through fantastic events and ensuring APODC continues to meet the needs of Parents and Children in the Auckland deaf community now and into the future.

Kirsten Davis

Kirsten joined the Committee in 2014, she elected as President not long after and in 2021 stepped down and into the Secretary role . She has continued in this role to date. She enjoys life in the country with her husband and two children, Xavier, and Milan. Xavier was born with Charge Syndrome and has severe bilateral conductive hearing loss, aided with hearing aids. Kirsten is also a Clinical Psychologist at The Psychology Group, and has extensive experience working with young people and their whānau in mental health and disabilities. She is passionate about supporting families to have increased access to their wider community.

Kirsten is proud of the Committee and the changes that have been made in the last few years to create a dynamic, accountable and visible organisation that prides itself on organising a wide range of fun events to allow connection and support.

Caroline Sutcliffe

Caroline joined the Committee in 2018 as she wanted to give back to a committee that provides so many opportunities and support to children and families like hers. She is married to her best friend (Morgan), and together they tackle life and their two beautiful girls (Ava and Aubrey) at full speed.

Ava is profoundly deaf (with a few additional needs), and uses NZSL as her main mode of communication and as a family they have been on an amazing journey learning NZSL. As a Speech Language Therapist, and 10+ years experience working in the paediatric field, Caroline now owns two private practices; The Speech Room (SLT) and partner clinic, The Move Room (OT). During her spare time she loves to discover new restaurants, or tune out and play Wood Puzzle!

Leanne Zhu

Kia Ora, my name is Leanne Zhu, and I became involved with APODC when my son was diagnosed with unilateral hearing loss. My partner and I feel that we need to have peer support at the earliest possible stage, and build connections with the hearing impaired community. APODC made us feel included and welcome from the start. We have enjoyed meeting other families and learning experiences from each other. That also made me realise the importance of networking, to find out what resources are available to make the journey a little easier. 

I’d like to stand for the Committee again this year to promote APODC among deaf/hearing impaired community, connecting families, and building relationships through shared experience in fun ways. I look forward to helping to plan and coordinate activities as part of the APODC Committee.

Jo Weaver

Jo has been an APODC committee member since May 2018. Jo moved to Aotearoa with her partner
in 2007 (from UK), where they live with their three young children. Her partner and two youngest
children all wear hearing aids for different degrees of sensorineural deafness.

Jo is an experienced Speech-Language Therapist, who currently contracts to a private practice. In the
past, Jo has worked for MOE, Special Schools and spent many years working at KDEC (mainly in the
pre-school). Knowing about deafness, understanding ‘the system’ and already knowing many
professionals working in the field, has made her family’s journey somewhat easier than it may have

Jo believes that APODC events are a great place for families to enjoy quality time together, network
with others and share experiences. Jo is passionate about supporting connection between families
and offering friendship and support.
In her spare time, Jo enjoys playing football.

Tim Huang

My name is Tim. I have a son, Adam (6), and a daughter, Emma (4). Adam was diagnosed with microtia on one of his ears when he was born, which is a condition that external ear is small and usually with a closed ear canal. Due to this condition, Adam has one sided hearing loss. Even the other ear is hearing fine, this condition, to the surprise of many people (myself included), actually impacts his ability to hear in a noisy environment, because he cannot locate the source of sound.

There are many challenges in bringing up a kid nowadays, let alone he needs extra help on hearing. I was certainly not prepared for it (maybe still am). A bit more than three years ago, a teacher told me about a coffee group held by APODC advertising in The Western Leader newspaper. I went there, had a nice chat with the lovely members, and decided to join APODC. I become a Committee member one month later till now.

I’d like to stand for the Committee again this year (and in fact I urge more from the group to join the Committee). I think parents with hearing loss kids need APODC to help them, and APODC need Committee member to sacrifice their time to help APODC to be able to help its members. During my time with the Committee, I have helped host several coffee groups, and provide input for event planning. What I wish to do more is help promote awareness of difficulties single sided hearing kids facing, along the road where I am still learning.

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