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.

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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

Matthew Slater


Matthew Slater joined Council in 2022 as a member of the Finance, Audit, Investment and Risk Committee. He became Chair on September 8th 2023, when Professor Cathy Stinear retired from the role.

Based in Christchurch, Matthew brings a finance and investment background from various commercial roles at Ravensdown, Ngai Tahu Holdings, Bank of New Zealand and National Australia Bank. He has governance experience from roles at Waikato Milking Systems, St Michael’s Church School, various limited partner advisory board roles with NZ and Australian private equity funds, and the Halswell/Westbridge Combined Board.

Matthew has a strong personal interest in neurological disorders due to his family’s links to the genetic-based neurological condition, Fragile X Syndrome. He sees great value in the Foundation’s ability to raise awareness of neurological conditions which together with its support for novel research providing an avenue to improve the lives of those impacted by such conditions.

Ailsa McGregor

Deputy Chair

Ailsa McGregor is a neuropharmacologist and Associate Professor in Clinical Pharmacy at the University of Otago. She became Deputy Chair of Council on September 8th 2023.

Ailsa has previous experience working with Big Pharma in Japan, Switzerland and the UK. The goal of her research is to turn ideas from lab, clinic and big-data studies into treatments that improve the health of people living with neurological conditions. She has a particular interest in stroke and Huntington’s disease.

She joined the Scientific Advisory and Personal Awards Committees in 2018 to help the Foundation support research that makes a real-life impact. She aims to bring an academic and industry perspective to Council discussions.

Ailsa was a member of the ANZCAART Openness Agreement drafting group and is Deputy Director of the Brain Health Research Centre.

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. 

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.

Mike Milsom

Mike Milsom is an experienced financial professional and has extensive charitable and governance experience. Having recently retired from his professional career after almost 17 years with Southern Cross Hospitals group, Mike now wants to spend his time lending his expertise to independent consulting and governance roles.

Mike spent 14 years as an active on-the-water volunteer with Auckland Coastguard, regularly participating in search and also served as a board member.

Mike is looking forward to contributing his commercial and governance experience to the Neurological Foundation and help continue the essential work in research and education for neurological disease in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Stephanie Clare

Stephanie is a registered nurse with over 35 years of nursing experience with the past two decades mainly in not-for-profit management and leadership roles including at Parkinson’s NZ and Age Concern NZ.

Stephanie is currently the New Zealand Executive Director of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.

Stephanie also enjoys lecturing and marking at the University of Otago Centre for Postgraduate Nursing Studies, Gerontology and Leadership and Management courses.

Stephanie has personal experience within her family with family members living with autism and cerebral palsy. She has desire to see everyone with neuro diversity achieve their full potential in life and is inspired to join the Neurological Foundation, a leader in striving for knowledge through research.

Lisa Smith

Lisa is a neuroscientist turned health system commissioner. In her neuroscience career, Lisa specialised in the study and development of treatments for Parkinson’s disease, based at the University of Otago in Dunedin. Lisa was strongly supported in this work by the Neurological Foundation, who funded her PhD studies and two projects on which she was a postdoctoral fellow. Today, she works in Wellington at Te Whatu Ora as a commissioner of health services, focusing on hospital and specialist services and developing the hospital network.

Lisa is passionate about driving system evolution to achieve equitable outcomes and supporting the people of Aotearoa New Zealand to experience good health and wellbeing. She feels the Neurological Foundation Council has a well-established programme of funding research and providing education and awareness programmes that help deliver improvements in health care - from the research bench to the bedside - and is delighted to be a part of this mahi.

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