Denise was raised and educated in Tauranga, enjoying holidays in the family caravan her parents built together, and continues to love living there. She completed her law degree at Auckland University and graduated in 1989.
For her day job, Denise is a lawyer at Lyon O’Neale Arnold in Tauranga. She joined the firm as a Solicitor in 1989. Denise was appointed an Associate in 1992 and a Partner of the firm in 1996.
Her work in the law often saw her fighting for the underdog, always acting as advocate for those who needed her. The birth of her daughters further heightened Denise’s natural instinct to protect those who were vulnerable and innocent and look at the world through their eyes.
Denise is passionate about education and seeing that as a way to break the poverty cycle established the Cambodia Charitable Trust in 2008. Education helps prevent children in rural Cambodia from being trafficked and gives children a chance at a better life.
Starting with two schools, the trust now supports 16 Schools with over 4,700 children, two Teachers Training Colleges with 400 trainee teachers, numerous community development programmes and 331 sponsored children (mostly girls).
Light your candle – Eleanor Roosevelt once said “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness”. This has inspired me to do just that.
Denise will be talking about the value of education and empowerment. She reflects on the choices we all have and the opportunity to bring light to the lives of others, and honours the women who have inspired her and helped her find her way to do that. Denise will explain what drew her to Cambodia, sharing the sometimes harrowing stories of the plight of some of the children of that country. She recounts her journey in establishing the Cambodia Charitable Trust and the successful outcomes for the children the Cambodia Charitable Trust has been able to help.