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News posted on Tuesday 6th December, 2022

Fiona Allan to step down as Chief Executive and Secretary General of Paralympics New Zealand

Fiona Allan smiling, wearing the medal of her Order of Merit at her investiture

Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) Chief Executive and Secretary General Fiona Allan has today announced that she is stepping down after 14 years in the role, and 16 years within the organisation.

Allan has overseen New Zealand’s participation in 8 Paralympic Games campaigns including 4 summer Paralympics (Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020), and 4 Paralympic Winter Games (Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014, Pyeongchang 2018 and Beijing 2022). She was also in charge as Chair of the incredibly successful 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships held in Christchurch.

In addition to being a National Paralympic Committee during Allan’s tenure, PNZ led the high performance Para sport programmes for Para athletics, Para swimming, Para cycling and Shooting Para sport. Under Allan’s leadership, PNZ oversaw the transition of Para athletics to Athletics New Zealand in 2016 and the transition of Para swimming to Swimming New Zealand earlier in 2022.

Allan will depart following the huge successes of the last winter and summer Paralympic Games. New Zealand produced its best performance in 20 years at the recent Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games, ranking 4th in the world per medals per capita and finished 15th out of 46 nations in the world on the medal table. At the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, New Zealand was ranked 4th in the world for medals per capita and, with a team size of only 29 Paralympians, finished 21st out of 163 nations in the world on the medal table.

Allan shared her pride in the progress and achievements of PNZ over her 16-years of service:

“I am immensely proud of what Paralympics New Zealand has achieved during the last 16 years. It’s been incredibly rewarding.

“It is a job that brings many challenges – not least of which are those that have been faced by so many in sport and the Paralympic Movement over the last couple of years – and yet it is a job that brings many moments of joy. The Paralympic Games are like no other sports event, and I believe that Para sport can transform lives, change perceptions of disabled people and contribute to making a more inclusive New Zealand and world.

“I am proud of New Zealand’s reputation both as a National Paralympic Committee and the reputation of our Paralympians, Para athletes and their support teams.”

With Allan leading the charge, New Zealand has witnessed massive development of Paralympic sport. Notable changes include the increased exposure and profile of Para sport and Paralympians and Para athletes, the growth in PNZ membership, the creation of the PNZ Athletes’ Council which has strengthened the athlete voice within decision-making, the increased media coverage of Para sport, the increased commercialisation of PNZ and the amazing PNZ partners, the increased Gaming and Community Trust and Government investment into Para sport and the introduction of equity of PEGs/TAPs to Para athletes/Paralympians, developed relationships with NZOC, HPSNZ and Sport NZ, the successful transition of Para athletics and Para swimming to their National Sports Organisations, and the recent the launch of Strengthen and Adapt projects, such as the PNZ Education Pilot in primary schools, and the Harvey Norman Para Sport Champion initiative, to work within the sport sector collectively stronger together.

One of the most fulfilling projects for Allan has been the PNZ Celebration Project, which presented each Paralympian with their unique Paralympian number bestowed only upon a Paralympian that has attended a Paralympic Games. Since 1968, 227 Paralympians have represented New Zealand across 26 Paralympic Games.

“The Celebration Project connected PNZ with our Paralympic family and Paralympian alumni,” explains Allan. “Celebrating their achievements and New Zealand’s Paralympic heritage was a highlight for me.”

Allan has been an influential figure internationally and is currently a member of the International Paralympic Committee Women in Sport Committee, a member of the International Olympic Committee Digital Engagement and Marketing Communications Commission, a Global Executive member of the International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport and nationally she is Vice President of the Carbine Club of New Zealand. Fiona became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2018 for her work as a champion of Paralympic sport.

“The opportunities to network, lead and advocate on the national, regional and international stage within the Paralympic movement has been incredibly special and I feel very privileged and wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Paralympics New Zealand Board and staff (past and present) as well as my colleagues in Sport NZ, HPSNZ and our member organisations including National Sports Organisations and Regional Parafeds or similar organisations. The evolving commitment, contribution and collaboration to support Para athletes with New Zealand sport has been invaluable for the development of Para sport in New Zealand.

“I have had the privilege to work with an amazing group of New Zealanders. Our Paralympians have inspired and taught me a lot over the years, the commitment of the various support people is tremendous from NZ classifiers, coaches, support teams, administrators and volunteers – I have had the pleasure of working alongside a huge number of talented and passionate individuals.”

PNZ Chair and President Jana Rangooni emphasises that Allan is widely recognised for her leadership and advocacy skills and her passion for equity and the development of Paralympic sport nationally, within Oceania, and internationally:

“Fiona has been an outstanding leader for, and within, New Zealand sport. She has also worked hard for the inclusion of disabled people within sport and has advocated for equity for Para athletes. We thank Fiona for her dedication, contribution, passion and impact to Para athletes, Para sport and sport generally in New Zealand.

“If the question we should all ask ourselves is ‘What difference did I make to the world today?’, Fiona can be confident and proud of the fact she has made a significant impact every day for the last 16 years. Her leadership of the team has seen an evolution in the awareness of and engagement with the Paralympic Movement in New Zealand. I know she will continue to support this wherever she goes.

“Fiona will be a great loss to Paralympics New Zealand, but she has built a strong foundation for the team and a new Chief Executive to be able to deliver ambitious plans in the coming years. Fiona’s work will ensure growing success at future Paralympic Games and leveraging that to change attitudes and lives.”

Allan will support the transition to a new Chief Executive and will finish on 31 March 2023. 

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