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Resilience to Nature’s Challenges welcomes a new Governance Group Chair and a Deputy Director - 26/11/2018

Jenn Bestwick joins us as Chairperson of the Resilience Challenge Governance Group, and Richard Smith fills a newly established Deputy Director role.

With a background in business and management consulting, Ms Bestwick is a Lead Reviewer with the States Services Commission Performance Improvement Framework. She has worked with a number of organisations in the science and research sector, having led MBIE’s Review of CRI Core Funding, been on a number of panels reviewing performance of MBIE science investments, and been involved in the establishment of Callaghan Innovation. Ms Bestwick also spent a number of years with Ngāi Tahu including in a role as General Manager, Strategy and Planning for Ngāi Tahu Holdings Group, the commercial arm of the iwi's operations.

Having lived in Christchurch through the Canterbury Earthquakes, Ms Bestwick has been involved in a range of guises in the response and recovery of Christchurch. This experience has not only given her valuable insights into the impact of natural disasters on communities and the environment, but also strengthened her commitment to increasing their resilience.

Ms Bestwick replaces Mr Ian Fraser who has chaired the Resilience Challenge Governance Group since its inception in 2015. Mr Fraser has completed his extended term as the Chair of the challenge having ably steered us through its establishment and our recent success in passing the mid-way strategic review. Mr Fraser’s long experience in professional engineering and governance  have been pivotal to shaping our research program around end-user needs and promoting the value of our research into both government and industry/lifeline sectors. We thank Mr Fraser for his service to the Resilience Challenge.

In his capacity as Deputy Director Dr Smith will work alongside Professor Shane Cronin, Resilience to Nature’s Challenges Director, and be based at GNS Science. Dr Smith will fill the role of Director for the Challenge’s second phase of research, which begins in July 2019. He comes to the Challenge from the New Zealand Earthquake Commission (EQC) where he was Research Strategy and Investment Manager, looking after EQC’s national Research Capability and Science-to-Practice programmes. Before joining EQC, Dr Smith held various roles in the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management (MCDEM), supporting policy and capability development and provision of science advice. He also has experience in academia, with a PhD in Geological Sciences from the University of Canterbury, and time spent as a Senior Lecturer in Earth Sciences at the University of Waikato.

We welcome Ms Bestwick and Dr Smith to the Resilience Challenge team, and look forward to their contributions as the Challenge moves into its second phase of research.