Our Mission

We believe that healthy communities are empowered by healthy businesses. So at CELF, our mission is to grow and connect socially responsible leaders.

What does CELF do?

Every year, CELF and their sponsors hand-pick participants for the Elevate Leadership Programme

Every year, CELF and their sponsors hand-pick participants for the Elevate Leadership Programme. These participants are carefully selected to ensure there is equal and significant impact to both the community and enterprise sectors.

The programme helps to connect and elevate organisations and communities within Waikato, New Zealand, while advancing our region.

Our Core Principles

Key Personalities

Tania Witheford, Executive Director

Tania has always been passionate about helping businesses grow but after many years working in integral roles across the tourism industry she has seen first hand how indispensable it is to foster business growth that interfaces (and benefits) its community. 

After 4 years of loving her Cambridge Chamber of Commerce role, she was invited to apply for her current role at CELF. She saw this as a culmination of all that she’d learned and experienced so far in her business journey. 

She’d seen how healthy communities and healthy businesses relied integrally on each other, and had also had the chance to notice the impact of gaps in leadership within organisations. She knew that if she could enhance leadership capabilities across both business and community organisations, then the potential of the entire region could be lifted.

Her simple but strong approach to life and business, which she saw reflected in one of her favourite leisure activities, waterskiing, boils down to: keep your eyes on the horizon, and enjoy the journey - don’t get caught up in distractions. In a nutshell, she believes that her job at CELF is to provide the support structure necessary for the organisation to succeed at its core mission; and all that she does at CELF is ultimately in service to the community.

Peter Sun, Programme Director

While many choose to specialise in a particular field, Peter realised early on that in order to rise through the ranks and become an effective leader, he had to develop a big picture view in order to understand and guide complex organisations. 

Peter trained as a mechanical engineer, but actually got his first job in the financial world, starting as an analyst focusing on asset valuation, after doing chartered management accounting at the same time as his engineering studies.

His first taste of general management came when he joined Mast Industries, where he was responsible for several factories, moving away from a technical focus towards people management. He arrived in New Zealand in 2003, completing a PhD in Knowledge Management and Learning. Within a short period of time, he ended up working with the University of Waikato, managing their accelerated education programme. 

Key to Peter’s personal and business ethos is the belief that, more important than any major structural change, is the change you can have in the life of a single individual. Small things done to support and lift others can ripple outwards, creating a positive effect throughout the wider community. 

Today, Peter accompanies those working through the CELF Elevate Leadership Programme on their journey, ensuring that they have the knowledge and support they need to go out and make a real, positive difference in their organisations.

Brad Jackson, 2022 Programme Director

Brad Jackson is the programme director for the CELF 2022 Elevate Leadership Programme. Brad is Professor of Leadership and Governance and MBA Director at the Waikato Management School based at the Hamilton campus of the University of Waikato. In the Waikato MBA he co-teaches three courses: Governance and Responsible Engagement, Global Business and Contemporary and Future Issues for Leaders. 

Prior to joining Waikato University, Brad was the Professor of Social Innovation within the Department of Business Strategy and Innovation in the Griffith Business School based Brisbane, Australia. He also served as Program Director for the Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Management and Director of the Policy Innovation Hub. He continues as an Adjunct Professor at Griffith University.

Brad was Professor of Public and Community Leadership at Victoria University of Wellington where he also served as the Head of School of Government and the Head of School of Management.  At the University of Auckland Business School, he was Co-Director of the New Zealand Leadership Institute and the Fletcher Building Education Trust Chair in Leadership.

Brad has published seven books—Management Gurus and Management Fashions, The Hero Manager, Organisational Behaviour in New Zealand, A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book About Studying Leadership, Demystifying Business Celebrity, Revitalising Leadership and The Board as the Nexus Between Leadership and Governance. He has also co-edited the Sage Handbook of Leadership and Major Works in Leadership. He is a former co-editor of the journal, Leadership, and the former Vice-Chair of the Akina Foundation and the International Leadership Association.

In the Waikato MBA Brad’s current research explores the inter-relationship between leadership and governance practices in promoting and sustaining social and economic innovation and the application of place-based approaches to foster cross-sectoral leadership development and education.

Brad moved to the Waikato from Brisbane in March 2020, the day before the first COVID Level 4 Lockdown. He and his wife, Cristina, have become strongly attached to their new home. They are dedicated to enhancing the region’s social, economic and environmental well-being.    

Are you ready to be a part of transforming your community through leadership?

Join our current partners.