Our People

Meet Able’s leadership and administration teams. They lead and support our skilled teams of Caption Editors, Caption Producers and Audio Describers to make media accessible.

Meet our Leadership Team

Me tutaki ki te Roopu Kaihautū Matua

Dan has brown hair and blue eyes, and smiles at the camera against a seafoam green background.

Dan Buckingham

Chief Executive

Dan is passionate about accessibility in all forms and brings extensive experience with both the broadcast industry and the disability sector in Aotearoa. Previously CEO at Attitude Pictures Limited, Dan's career in the media has included presenting in a range of places, from the rainforests of Papua New Guinea to the stadiums of Rio as the lead presenter for TVNZ's coverage of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Dan reports to the Media Access Charitable Trust board, and he oversees everything that happens at Able.

Shrutika Gunanayagam has short dark hair and brown eyes. She smiles as she stands in front of a bright green background.

Shrutika Gunanayagam

Operations Manager

Shrutika is passionate about Able’s kaupapa and believes that accessibility is a human right. She studied radio at AUT, but her love for TV and film drew her to the Able team, joining as a Caption Producer in 2015. She looked after Able’s superlative Editors from 2018 - 2023, and now leads Able’s operations. An integral part of the Senior Leadership team, Shrutika ensures the smooth production and delivery of captioning and audio description to all of our stakeholders and clients.

A woman with shoulder-length black hair is wearing a black top underneath a purple jacket, smiling at the camera.

Jean Teng

Communications & Engagement Manager

Jean is passionate about ensuring everyone has access to information that matters, the stories which enrich our lives, and, of course, everything else. Jean started her journey with Able as a Caption Producer in 2016, then moved on to write in magazines and other publications, before finding her way back eventually. Jean is responsible for Able's communications, amplifying the work that it does and raising awareness on the importance of media accessibility.

Picture of Virginia Philp (who was part of AD's inception) smiling. She has shoulder length brown hair and brown eyes.

Virginia Philp

Team Leader - Audio Describers

Virginia joined Able as a caption producer in 2009, and became a founding member of Able’s audio description team. She worked on New Zealand’s very first audio described programmes, broadcast on TVNZ 1 in 2011. Virginia is responsible for training, guiding, and directing the audio description team – helping them produce an ever-growing amount of audio described programming. Virginia has always loved television, and equally loves playing a part in making it more accessible for everyone.

Phoebe has long brown hair, bangs and is smiling. She's wearing a black long-sleeve top.

Phoebe Upton

Team Leader - Caption Editors

Phoebe is a big fan of language and how we communicate as people, and her role at Able seamlessly combines both of these passions. She graduated from the University of Auckland with a Masters in Translation Studies (Spanish) in 2020, and became a Caption Producer at Able not long after. Phoebe took on the role of Team Leader of the Caption Editors in 2023 and thoroughly enjoys the challenge of upskilling existing Able captioners and supporting them in both their personal and professional development.

Steffi has long brown hair and blue eyes. She smiles, looking off to the side, against a purple backdrop.

Steffi Dryden

Team Leader - Caption Producers

Steffi is passionate about language and proud to be working towards a more inclusive Aotearoa. After studying Publishing at Whitireia, she joined the Able team as a Caption Producer in 2020. Steffi became Team Leader of the Caption Producers in 2023 and loves being able to welcome new captioners to the Able whānau and guide them through learning the captioning craft.

A colour photograph of Tracey, who has shoulder length blonde hair and blue eyes. She wears glasses. She smiles, standing in front of a light pink background.

Tracey Dawson

Media Coordinator

Tracey was drawn to the world of captioning in the '90s, when she began her career as a Caption Producer at TVNZ. Tracey has been with the service for two decades, and now looks after Able’s media co-ordination. She’s proud to be part of such a dedicated team that works to provide access to film, TV and media for the community.

June has dark hair and eyes, and smiles as she gazes into the distance. She wears a violet top, and stands against a pink background.

June Yeow

Schedule Coordinator

June started at Able over 10 years ago as a Caption Producer, drawn to the role by a love of words and TV. Today she is the Schedule Coordinator, in charge of Able’s broadcast schedules for both captioning and audio description. It’s a busy role, and no two days are the same, but June loves the part she plays in making media accessible in Aotearoa.

Christa has dark hair and eyes, and smiles as she looks off from the camera.

Christa Purvis

Office Coordinator

With over a decade of experience in financial administration, Christa coordinates all administration procedures to ensure that Able functions efficiently. Originally from Samoa, Christa is passionate about Able’s vision, and believes that everyone should have equal access to news, entertainment and culture.

Meet our Board

Lewis Grant has grey hair and blue eyes, and smiles against a seafoam green background.

Lewis Grant

Chair

Lewis Grant played a crucial role in supporting Able’s journey to become an independent charitable trust, and has continued to serve as Chair of the Media Access Charitable Trust Board since then. A nationally recognised expert in his field of private client, trusts and estates law, Lewis brings a wealth of experience to Able. He is a Partner at Martelli McKegg, and also serves on the board of the Auckland City Mission Foundation and on a number of other charitable trusts, and is a trustee of several hundred trusts.

Irene has blonde hair and blue eyes, and wears a black rollneck jumper and black glasses. She smiles as she looks into the distance, with a green background behind her.

Irene Gardiner

Trustee

Irene is a long-time television producer, who has also worked as a journalist and publicist. Irene is President of the NZ screen producers' guild SPADA, is on the boards of RNZ, and Chamber Music NZ, and is a member of the NZ TV Awards organising committee. She was the founding Content Director for the NZ On Screen website, and is a former TVNZ Head of Commissioning and Production. Irene is also a frequent commentator on screen and media matters on television and radio.

David wears glasses and a hearing aid, and smiles.

David Kent

Trustee

David is a retired rural banking manager, having spent almost 50 years working in the rural industry in Canterbury. Since 2005 he has chaired the Southern Hearing Charitable Trust in Christchurch, which holds the Cochlear Implant Program contract with the Ministry of Health for the lower North Island and South Island. David has been on the Council of The National Foundation for the Deaf since 2012.

Thomas has dark brown/grey hair and dark blue eyes. He wears a collared shirt and a jumper, and stands against a seafoam green background.

Thomas Bryan

Trustee

A long-time member of Blind Citizens NZ, Thomas was involved in advocacy for the introduction of audio description in NZ. Thomas is a member of community networks and council working groups, and advocates for accessibility wherever possible. Thomas is the proud recipient of the Beamish Memorial Medal, Blind Citizens NZ’s most prestigious award, which recognises his significant contributions to the blind community.

Karen has silvery curly hair and bright blue eyes. She wears a flowered shirt, and stands against a pink background.

Karen Thompson

Trustee

Karen Thompson is an experienced professional in the not-for-profit education and sporting sectors in both operational and governance roles. Karen is the Associate Director, Communications and Alumni Relations at the University of Auckland and is responsible for engaging with the University’s over 200,000 alumni and donors. Prior to joining the University, Karen worked in the events and publishing industries. She was Chair of Netball North for three years and is currently a member of the University of Auckland Society executive committee and a member of the Institute of Directors in New Zealand.

Interested in working with us to make a difference?

Apply to join the Able whānau.