Senior Advisor Inclusion and Diversity for Ara Poutama Aotearoa (Corrections)
Theresa Peters is the Senior Advisor Inclusion and Diversity for Ara Poutama Aotearoa (Corrections)
Theresa has been a long time activist and advocate speaking up for LGBTQI+, human rights and the environment since the early 80’s.
Theresa left a difficult home life at the age of 16 and for a time lived on the streets- she credits this experience in helping to build resilience, understanding hardship and where she learned much about human nature and her own strength.
Theresa travelled extensively in her 20’s and 30’s living with and appreciating different cultural perspectives. She saw the beauty of diversity and also the struggles many across the globe face just to survive with dignity.
Theresa migrated to Aotearoa in 1998 and became a citizen shortly after based on the defacto same-sex partnership with a Kiwi.
Theresa has a varied work history having been everything from a sea kayak guide in Alaska, building a stone house in the Negev desert of Israel to running her own businesses and leading teams of 30+ people. She has worked in the Public Service sector for the past nine years, prior to that she was in management roles in the Community Sector.
Theresa worked her way into positions with more influence and responsibility trusting her judgment and retaining confidence even in the face of adversity. Having personally experienced prejudice due to her being an out Lesbian she persevered, building skills, institutional knowledge and strategic relationships to be in a position to influence and make a difference to how a company or Government department addresses inclusion and diversity.
Theresa developed a Rainbow Diversity Training Programme for Ara Poutama Aotearoa that aims to educate staff on how to interact respectfully with each other but also with the LGBTQI+ people in our care. Theresa has travelled around the country delivering the award winning Rainbow Diversity Training to over 1800 frontline staff and senior leaders at Ara Poutama Aotearoa, as well as to Police Youth Engagement Officers and the Department of Conservation.
Theresa joined the Corrections Staff Rainbow Network in 2017 and is currently the chair of the network. Theresa is a founding member of the Cross Agency Rainbow Network (CARN) which also formed in 2017. CARN works across all public sector agencies to ensure LGBTQI+ voices are included, respected and celebrated. In addition to these networks Theresa is an active member of the Auckland branch of the Government Women’s Network (GWN).
In 2018 Theresa co-organised the Inaugural Government and Partners Rainbow Conference, which brought together policy makers, senior government leaders and LGBTQI+ agencies and community members in Aotearoa and is on the organising committee for the next CARN Rainbow conference now postponed to 2021. Theresa was a finalist in the LGBTQ Awards in the 'Diversity Champion' category in 2018 and her Rainbow Diversity Training was a finalist in the 2019 Diversity Works Awards.
Theresa also does public speaking engagements having presented at; AUT, ALBA, the 2019 Women’s Summit and State Services Commission.
Theresa is looking forward to being a part of Out@PSA.