Our purpose

The Environmental Defence Society is a dedicated team of professionals who are committed to improving environmental outcomes for Aotearoa New Zealand.

EDS seeks to protect and restore Aotearoa New Zealand’s outstanding landscapes, freshwater systems, oceans and indigenous biodiversity. We do this through holding business and government to account, strengthening the law when it is found wanting, and supporting good environmental management practice.

Meet the people who make it happen.

Our staff

Gary Taylor MA(Hons), CNZM, QSO

Chairman & Chief Executive

Gary provides overall leadership for EDS. He has extensive experience in corporate governance, having been the Chairman of the Auckland Area Health Board, the Climate Change and Business Centre and the Peoples Centre Health Trust. Gary has been involved in resolving environmental issues for over four decades.

Shay Schlaepfer LLB, BSc

Chief Operating Officer

Shay has a BSc/LLB. She is a resource management lawyer with 20 years’ experience. She began her career as EDS’s first in house solicitor before working in chambers and for Brookfields Lawyers in Auckland. Shay is now EDS’s Chief Operating Officer.

Raewyn Peart MCom, LLB, BCom, BSocSc, MNZM

Policy Director

Raewyn heads EDS's environmental policy work. She has over 30 years professional experience in environmental law and policy, having worked as a resource management lawyer and policy adviser to business, government and the not-for-profit sector. Raewyn has published widely on coastal, marine and other environmental issues.

Greg Severinsen PhD, LLB(Hons), BA

Senior Policy Advisor

Greg provides the lead on EDS's environmental system reform projects. He has practised in resource management law at a major law firm and worked as a policy analyst at the Ministry for the Environment. Greg has published, presented and taught on a range of resource management and environmental law topics.

Deidre Koolen-Bourke PhD, LLM (Hons), LLB(Hons), BA/BSc

Senior Policy Researcher

Deidre is a lead researcher for EDS's policy projects. She was a teaching assistant for public law and legal method at Auckland University's Faculty of Law for over ten years, and worked at Child Youth and Family as part of its privacy and official information legal team. Deidre has published on indigenous rights, conservation and animal law.

Fernanda Contreras Caballero LLM (Hons) LLB

Legal & Policy Researcher

Fernanda undertakes research for EDS’s policy projects including on resource management and conservation reform. Previously, Fernanda ran her own legal firm in Mexico for small to medium size businesses. Her passion for the environment led her to study and graduate with a Masters degree in environmental law from the University of Auckland and she then worked as a Senior Compliance Officer at Auckland Council.

Benjamin Tombs PhD candidate, LLM, BA(Hons)

Legal & Policy Researcher

Ben researches the legal and philosophical challenges within climate change adaptation. His PhD topic and publications focus on themes of climate change compensation and the implications of compounding climate hazards on residential property. At EDS Ben is working on a project about managed retreat in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Cordelia Woodhouse LLB, BSc

Solicitor

Cordelia leads EDS's litigation programme as well as providing policy support. She has three years' experience in the practise of environmental law and brings to EDS her understanding of the intersection of science and law.

Sasha Maher PhD, MA (Hons), BA (Hons)

Programme Director

Sasha is a key policy advisor on climate change and has a special interest in forestry and agriculture. She also manages EDS's communications, fundraising and events. Most recently, Sasha worked for Fonterra in a variety of policy and business development roles in Aotearoa New Zealand, the US and the Caribbean.

Katharina Stickling MSc, BASc

Office Manager

Katharina manages day to day administrative duties and accounts for EDS. Her Bachelor of Applied Science in European Studies focused on international cooperation activities in both public and private sector institutions. She has recently attained a Masters degree in Organisational and Behavioural Psychology. In former positions, Katharina supported sustainable businesses such as GoodFor in marketing, branding, international sales and retail management.

Zadie Woodhouse

Office Pup

Zadie is responsible for staff morale and the welcoming of guests to the office. She takes her job seriously and is in constant attendance at EDS's Ponsonby office.

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