Open Waikato

Open Waikato is a Waikato District Council Initiative. We provide information and support to businesses in the Waikato, and we lead and support development initiatives that advance community aspirations.

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What we do

Julie Dolan
Community and Economic Development Manager

I was fortunate to grow my career in Economic, Community and Social Enterprise activities in the city and region I was born and lived in, Liverpool in the UK. I have a real passion for a job that allows me to make a difference for others and in this role; this is what I get a chance to do.

I started at Waikato District Council in January 2019 and lead the Economic and Community Development team in building up the skills and capacity of our people across our communities who want to make a difference and improve life chances for our people.

Leanne Van de Bend
Community Development

I’ve been at Council for 10 years in April. I started at Council as the Graffiti & Safer Communities Co-ordinator. I set out very early on to build the role into a community developmental role.

I’m excited about people I get to meet and the variability of the role. I interact with any and all community grass roots groups. This is what excites and motivates me. I have not faulted from this belief and to this day I have a heavy desire to do good, meaningful work in this area.

A new piece of work for me involves community-led development. Essential to this new work is listening to and asking questions of the people who live, work and play in the district, to discover how we can provide training and workshops that meet their needs and goals.

Joe Wilson
Youth Engagement

I am a down to earth people person with a lifelong passion for creating aspirational opportunities for young people.

Having worked in secondary education as a PE and Health Teacher and within communities on projects including music, sports and social change in both the UK and New Zealand, I have a strong understanding and experience of front line youth development work.

I realise the potential for sharing this experience and knowledge in local government and the wider community to ensure that conversations and developments are held accountable to the voice of its youth and to educate them on how best to support youth through youth engagement and community led development practices so they can flourish in life.

Mitch King
Economic and Community Development

I’m in this work because I believe in the opportunity to improve people’s lives through sustainable economic development.

I’ve been a small business owner, and run large teams in fast growing businesses. I’m passionate about ensuring that the people in the Waikato benefit from economic growth.