For just the second time in its long history, the St Vincent de Paul Society in New Zealand has elected a woman to be its new national president.
The new president is Marlena Hoeft-Marwick, a Vincentian since primary school and a resident of Marlborough.
“It is time for a new beginning, time to bring fresh energy to the challenge of feeding the poor, housing the homeless, visiting and sitting with the sick and lonely and listening to what they are telling us,” said Mrs Hoeft-Marwick.
“Now is the time to embrace our mission of service with fresh energy and a clear sense of purpose.”
The new president said her leadership style will be one of truly listening to the membership and then working collaboratively and decisively to put plans into action.
“Effective leadership begins with listening. Everybody has something to contribute, whether it is expressed eloquently or simply. There is always a message, and it usually comes
from the heart. We must, at all times, treat our fellow brothers and sisters with the Vincentian spirit of love and charity.
“It is my intention to be a servant leader by providing an encouraging forum at all levels of the society to increase our membership and the number of conferences. My goal is also to see our spirituality nourished and shared with others. If we do that, it will be a natural progression to expand our works of charity throughout New Zealand.”
The new national president has a strong commitment to social justice. She is very experienced in working in an advocacy role with clients to get the support they need from agencies such as the local DHB, Work and Income, Barnados Child and Family Services and Migrant Services.
Mrs Hoeft-Marwick has come up through the ranks of the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Her roles in the society have included two terms as Marlborough Area Council president and National Council member for four years.
She brings to the role a broad range of governance and business experience. She has worked in the legal and medical administration sectors in Australia and London, has managed a number of businesses, including the family’s building business, and has been the creator and operator of several start-up businesses.
Mrs Hoeft-Marwick is married with three grown-up children and lives in Picton. She and husband Ian are involved in several community projects that protect the local environment through pest monitoring and trapping programmes. She is also the co-ordinator of Community Fruit Marlborough, which arranges for excess fruit to be donated to the local food bank, which distributes them to schools.
The new SVDP national president is also a keen netballer and tennis player.