New Chairperson selected for MDA National Council

The Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand (MDA) held their Annual General Meeting in Hamilton on Friday night at the Distinction Hotel.

Ken Green, a charted accounted, was selected as the new chairperson for National Council and brings with him a lot of experience within the organisation already. Green has been a part of the Council for just over a year and is also the head of the MDA’s Sub Finance committee.

Trevor Jenkin, a long time advocate and member of the MDA’s Northern committee was selected as vice chairperson on National Council.

Both men were selected unopposed.

An array of speakers were on hand to share their story following the official ceremonies at the AGM. Nic Brocklebank, the ambassador for MDA New Zealand, and Dr Alice Theodom, the lead researcher on Muscular Dystrophy prevention were the two stand outs.

Other names of interest including special guest Dr Larry Stern from the USA and Dr Richard Roxburgh also spoke on the night.

Positive outlook for the MDA heading into 2016

It has been a year of change for the MDA, and as 2016 approaches, positive strives may be on the horizon thanks to a joint effort by National Council and staff.

In the latest In Touch magazine, National Council chairperson Heather Browning revealed that conversations about the aspirations that office staff have for the MDA had been held recently in Auckland.

Browning says that the National Council was left with a greater appreciation of the importance and complexity of working in the disability sector following the conversations.

A strategic plan has been set in motion for the next year.

“I am optimistic that 2016 will be a year of growth”, Browning said.

Former Canterbury chairperson Paul Arthur resigned from his role after a two-year reign, citing that he wanted to focus on his health, but The Real Michael Pulman understands that Arthur was left in a position where the decision was forced due to pressure from fellow branch member Warren Hall.

Acting Chief Executive Ronelle Baker has received positive feedback from Northern Branch chairperson Trevor Jenkin, but Baker herself is taking each day in her stride.

“No overspending” according to MDA in statement

Despite claiming so, the recently released statement by the MDA surrounding finances doesn’t bring fourth any clear evidence that overspending is not some of the factors involved in the $100,000 plus deficit.

In the statement, MDA cite increasing competition from other organisations for donations, and that the revenue from fund-raising was well below expectations.

Since spotlight when on National Office in April, some have speculated that the financial decision making of Chris Higgins as CEO of the MDA are a reason for the deficit.

Higgins is believed to be earning up to $150,000 annually in his role at the head of MDA, this includes benefits, and Higgins is left to make the day-to-day decisions regarding finances, and this is briefly overseen by National Council.

National Council appointed Higgins in the role, and Higgins said during an interview with The Real Michael Pulman that all decisions are made by National Council and not himself.

However, the statement released by National Office says that Chris Higgins is responsible for MDA’s finances.

The MDA provided no clear evidence that overspending was not a factor in posting its significant financial deficit. MDA also claim they have significant financial reserves for the next calendar year.