Nov 17, 2017, 8:30 AM
Te Papa Tongawera, Wellington


Dr Sarah Hillyer (USA)

An international sports consultant with more than twenty years of experience, Sarah Hillyer works to promote peace, empowerment, and diplomacy for girls, women, refugees, and persons with disabilities around the world.

Hillyer has worked in more than fifteen countries on four continents, with the majority of her efforts spent developing sports programs with Muslim women in the Middle East. The 2009 Eva Mag’s Woman of the Year and the 2011 Generations for Peace Post-Doctoral Fellow, Hillyer is recognized as one of the leading practitioners in the field of sport for development and peace.

Hillyer received her PhD from the University of Tennessee in sport sociology and also a master’s degree in sport psychology from Murray State University. Hillyer completed her undergraduate work in sport management at Liberty University, where she also played basketball.

Co-founder and Director Asst. Professor, The University of Tennessee, Centre for Sport, Peace, & Society
Dr Ashleigh Huffman (USA)
Co-founder and Assistant Director, The University of Tennessee, Centre for Sport, Peace, & Society

Ashleigh Huffman has worked with more than 10,000 global sports leaders from 72 countries to promote positive social change.

Employing a train-the-trainers model, Huffman leverages the power of sport and education to develop leaders, who then directly impact local communities with their platform and passion for change. Currently, she works in tandem with the US Department of State and espnW on the Global Sports Mentoring Program, a program that was named by the Public Diplomacy Council as one of the ten best diplomatic accomplishments in the world in 2013.  

Huffman’s research interests lie in the intersections of sport, gender, peace, and leadership, as well as service-learning and social change. She received her PhD from the University of Tennessee in sport sociology and also holds a master’s degree in sport management from UT. Huffman completed her undergraduate work in exercise science at Eastern Kentucky University, where she was twice named co-captain of the women’s basketball team.

Kereyn Smith, NMZM
Chief Executive Officer of the New Zealand Olympic Committee

Kereyn's appointment to her current role in early 2011 follows twenty years in sport leadership having been CEO of  the New Zealand Academy of Sport South Island, General Manager of the Hillary Commission, as well as  positions within Government and CEO of a sports trust.

A graduate of the School of Physical Education at Otago University, and Christchurch Teachers College, Kereyn taught physical education in Marlborough and Otago before moving into a career in sports leadership. Kereyn was the first women in the 100 year history of the New Zealand Olympic Committee to be appointed to the CEO role. She has been a leading advocate for increasing the profile and participating of women in sport in all roles and functions, and has won international acclaim for this work.

In a governance capacity, Kereyn completed a six year stint as Vice President of International Netball, after a period of time as Chair of Netball New Zealand.  She has also served as a Trustee of the Forsyth Barr Stadium, Council Member of the University of Otago, Director of the Highlanders Rugby Franchise and is presently a member of the New Zealand Rugby Committee.  

In her current CEO role, Kereyn has overseen the New Zealand team at the successful London Summer, Sochi Winter and Rio Summer Olympic Games, as well as the Glasgow Commonwealth Games campaign.

Kereyn is a Vice President of the Commonwealth Games Federation and an IOC Commission Member (Sport and Activity and the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games Bid Evaluation).   In 2017, Kereyn was awarded the prestigious C.K. Doig Leadership Award in recognition of her outstanding leadership.

Paula Tesoriero, MNZM
New Zealand paralympics racing cyclist and Disability Rights Commissioner

Paula is a Paralympian, winning gold in world record-breaking time in the women’s 500m cycling time trial at the Beijing Summer Paralympics in 2008. She also won bronze medals in the Individual Pursuit and Individual Road Time Trial. In 2009 she went on to win the coveted world champion jerseys in her road racing and the 500m time trial classifications.  Her services to cycling were recognised when she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2009 New Year’s Honours.

Paula is an experienced public sector manager. Since February 2016 she has been General Manager, Systems and Partnerships with Stats NZ and prior to that was the General Manager Higher Courts with the Ministry of Justice. Paula has practiced as a lawyer and as an advisor to a former Minister of Social Services.

Experienced at governance, Paula served as Deputy Chair of the NZ Artificial Limb Service until July this year and is a Board member of the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation. She is Deputy Chair of Sport Wellington and a member of the NZ Sports Tribunal. She holds an LLB, BA, and Postgraduate Diploma in Public Management qualifications.

Recently Paula was announced as the new Disability Rights Commissioner and took up her appointment at the end of July.

Lydia Bradey
First women to climb Mt Everest without oxygen

Lydia grew up in New Zealand, and lives by the side of a lake near Wanaka, NZ.

She has made over 24 expeditions to above 6000m, hung for a week on the side of a cliff, and climbed Mt Everest alone and without oxygen. 


In 1988 Lydia became the first woman in the world and only New Zealander to climb Mt Everest without supplementary oxygen.  Her other firsts include; the only New Zealand woman to have climbed Everest more than once, the first woman in the Southern Hemisphere to climb one of the world’s fourteen 8000m peaks and one of three Kiwis to make the first New Zealand ascent of the world’s 7th highest mountain, Dhaulagiri, 8157m, Nepal. 


 Her guiding specialty is high altitude and remote and extreme environment climbing and guiding around the world.  She is particularly interested in the physiology of climbing at altitude and how to maximise her client’s performance at altitude. 


Her personal adventures take her rock climbing in Greece, Italy and Australia, mixed ice and rock climbing in France and making first alpine ascents in the Antarctic Peninsula.   Her professional Mountain Guiding takes her to high mountains in remote locations…and the adventures continue.


Lydia continues to climb for fun, passion, a strong bond with “Big Nature”, and an addiction to learning.   Lydia splits her work schedule between mountain guiding and professional speaking.