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Inspiring leaders at CanTeen

7 Mar, 2022

Inspiring leaders at CanTeen

Today (and every day!) we celebrate the achievements and growth of all women in the CanTeen whānau – from our members, services team, board members, ambassadors, loyal supporters, partners, to every facet of our organisation that has inspirational women embedded in it. #Proud

This International Women’s Day we hear from some of the women leading the charge at CanTeen and how they want to inspire other women, particularly our rangatahi, to let their voices be heard and help drive change in the future. #BreakTheBias.

With experiences of bias in the community, workplace, school, and study, their leadership is inspiring and an important model for our rangatahi.

National Manager of Psychosocial Services Lucy Barnes shapes our service offering for rangatahi and helps makes decisions about the direction of CanTeen. Her role has a direct impact on the rangatahi we support, and she wants to inspire them to back themselves and share their voice.

“I would love to model that using your voice can help you thrive and make a difference.”

“Gender bias has certainly made it harder to forge a pathway to leadership, from feeling empowered enough to strive for a leadership position, to being paid what you are worth. I always try to be aware of these biases in my own thinking and in challenging the way others think. I continually work on being assertive about what I want to achieve and in backing myself.”

Lucy manages CanTeen’s leadership programme, which supports rangatahi to build their confidence, leadership skills, and opens avenues for them to take on leadership opportunities, from managing events at CanTeen to joining CanTeen’s board as a member director.

“I get a huge sense of achievement and joy from seeing the difference we make to rangatahi who are experiencing an extremely challenging period in their lives.”

“I want to show women that being in a leadership position can be an exciting and rewarding experience.”

CanTeen’s President Pippa has continued to step into leadership positions since she first joined our leadership programme when she was 15 years old. No stranger to bias, Pippa has been met with roadblocks as she’s strived to ensure her voice is heard – and so, she wants to support the voices of our rangatahi to be heard as well.

“Being a young, disabled woman, I know a thing or two about bias and taking on leadership positions has helped me to break these biases.”

“I’m all about representing the voices of our rangatahi. It’s important to me that, as representatives of the members’ voice, we hold the space for open lines of communication between ourselves and the people we are representing.”

“Rangatahi, especially wāhine, have so much innate value to contribute to society. We can do it. We belong.”

Clinical Lead Psychologist at CanTeen, Anna, is using her position to support rangatahi both within the organisation and as an advocate in the community.

Part of my work involves supporting rangatahi to understand what is valuable and meaningful to them, what they want their life to stand for, and to support them to build the skills and self-determination to go after this.” 

“I want to empower girls and women to follow their aspirations and to never give up on their goals, regardless of any subtle messages or social expectations they may be subject to in our communities.”

“I am fortunate to have trained in and practice in a field – psychology – that is now largely dominated by women in terms of numbers. This represents a big improvement from previous decades (think Freud, Pavlov, Skinner). However, the numbers have not necessarily translated into equity in terms of pay, and status in modern psychology, and this is supported by research. Women continue to lobby for greater equity in psychology and healthcare around the world and here in Aotearoa New Zealand.” 

“My role at CanTeen means I have more of a platform to create change both within the organisation and in the community.”

“In CanTeen and in the clinical team I am surrounded by strong, confident, and courageous women who share the same passions and encourage me to continue striving for change.”

CanTeen leaders Kya and Janine joined the leadership programme at CanTeen so they could support other rangatahi impacted by cancer and be involved in important conversations.

Kya, a CanTeen leader from Gisborne, wants to use her leadership position as a platform to inspire other young women impacted by cancer.

 “The most valuable part of my role as a CanTeen leader is being able to inspire others, as well myself, to do better during challenging times.”

“It’s important to me that I can be authentic in my leadership actions because I’m able to draw on shared experiences with other young women going through cancer.”

Christchurch based CanTeen leader Janine says she built a wall around herself due to the bullying she experienced growing up and wants to support other rangatahi to break down their walls and feel safe to let their voice be heard.

“It’s important that we have a free space to share our thoughts and be encouraged by others. We all learn in different ways and come to the table with exciting ideas that shouldn’t be missed!”

“You have a voice! It’s okay to speak up about something.”

“Being surrounded by the right people and being part of CanTeen has helped me find the confidence to have a voice. We’re here to support others and make a change in this awesome community. “


Women being supported to take on and thrive in leadership positions helps lead the charge in ensuring women have a voice at the table #BreakTheBias. We are proud to have so many inspiring women leaders throughout our organisation and to be continuing to nourish rangatahi voices through our leadership programme.

…but you don’t have to be in a leadership position to let your voice be heard. As CanTeen president Pippa says:

“Being in a leadership role is not the key determinant of being able to overcome bias – passion for what you do also plays a big role.”

Join us this International Women’s Day as we ALL work together to #BreakTheBias – and it starts by letting your voice be heard.

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