Neurological Foundation Council

The Neurological Foundation Council is the governing body of the Foundation. The Council sets strategy for the Foundation and governs its operation, approving the appointment of key staff, sign off on operations and financial strategies for the Foundation, and ensure the Foundation is being run according to its guiding principles.

Blue neuronsGeneric page Type2 banner 1036x428

The Council is made up of business experts, neurologists and neuroscientists who volunteer their time without remuneration. During the grant rounds, the Council are responsible for approving the grants, Fellowships and Scholarships that have been recommended by the Scientific Advisory and Personal Awards Committees. Whilst the Council does not deviate from the committee’s recommendations, they can decide to increase funding for the round to encapsulate additional research projects that straddle the funding limit.

Council Position Description

Professor Cathy Stinear


Cathy is a Professor at the University of Auckland, a clinical neuroscientist at Auckland City Hospital working with patients to promote recovery following stroke and was the Chair of the Neurological Foundation Scientific Advisory Committee from 2015-2019. She joined the Scientific Advisory Committee in 2008 because of the essential role the Foundation plays in helping researchers make new discoveries, and led the committee review process in 2018. Cathy has been a principal investigator on a range of clinical rehabilitation trials with patients at Auckland City Hospital and is the Director of the Brain Research Clinic at the Centre for Brain Research.

Barbara Bridger

Deputy Chair

Barbara lives in Dunedin and joined the council in 2020.  She is also Chair of the Finance, Audit, Investment and Risk Committee.  A Chartered Accountant by background she completed a Bachelor of Commerce at Otago University in the mid-1980’s.  In 1996 following a career in Banking and Financial Services both in New Zealand and overseas Barbara’s career took a different turn and she commenced working in Primary Health care, firstly as Practice Manager for one of the country’s largest medical centres and then as CEO of the Country’s first stand-alone Primary Health Organisation (PHO).  Since 2014 Barbara has been the CEO at Otago Community Trust, a philanthropic Trust based in Dunedin and is also on the Board of Cosy Homes Trust an organisation which seeks to improve the quality of the housing stock in the Otago Region.

Barbara has a keen interest in her local community and in particular in issues affecting young people and vulnerable communities. 

Simon John

Simon is a neurosurgeon, with a sub speciality interest in paediatric neurosurgery and complex brain tumour surgery. Currently full time in the public system Simon also has governance roles in the Christchurch hospital’s detection and response to deteriorating patients. He is actively involved with the trauma team, co-ordinating multi-disciplinary care of complex trauma patients, and helping to improve their journey through the hospital.

With an interest in education Simon is the New Zealand representative for the Neurosurgical society of Australasia’s Surgical Education and Training Board. He is also a regular teacher on the Asian-Australasian Advanced Course in Paediatric Neurosurgery.

Sonja Clapham

Sonja is a barrister at Shortland Chambers, Auckland.  She was a foundation member of Shortland Chambers, was a member of the first executive of the NZ Bar Association, has been a member of the executive of the Auckland Women Lawyers Association, and currently is a member of the Auckland District Law Society’s Family Law Committee. 

Sonja is primarily engaged in providing advice and advocacy in disputes regarding wills and deceased estates.  She presents seminars for the legal profession on issues regarding wills and the administration of deceased estates.

After experiencing an episode of Guillain-Barre syndrome in 2009, (from which she fully recovered) Sonja has a heightened awareness of, and interest in, disorders and diseases of the nervous system.  She was invited to join the Council of the Neurological Foundation in 2019. 

Anna Lissaman

Anna joined the Council at the end of 2021. Her background is in human resources with a particular focus on organisation cultural and digital transformation. Anna has held past executive roles at House of Travel and TVNZ and has recently joined the executive team of Metlifecare. Her governance experience includes having been a member of Bayfield School board of trustees and a Future Director at Mercury. Anna is a member of the People and Performance Committee.

Georgina Hunter

Based in Christchurch, Georgina is a marketing, communications and PR specialist with many years of experience in the healthcare sector. She works with a range of clients through her business across the agri-business, professional services, pharmaceutical and health tech sectors. She is currently on the Board of Trustees at Rangi Ruru Girls' School and the Advisory Board of Triage-Plus.
Georgina joined the Neurological Foundation in 2021 and is motivated by the great work that the Foundation does to improve the quality of life for those impacted by neurological conditions. She is a member of the People and Performance Committee.

Help us make a difference today