Our Leaders

WWF-New Zealand was established in 1975 as a Charitable Trust and is a registered charity (CC33788).

We are governed by a Board of Trustees and led by our CEO. 

Meet our CEO

"The urgent need to turn the tide on biodiversity loss in our ocean is one of the main reasons I decided to join WWF-New Zealand as CEO."

Dr Kayla Kingdon-Bebb

Dr Kayla Kingdon-Bebb


Dr Kayla Kingdon-Bebb joined WWF-New Zealand as CEO in March 2023, having previously served as Director of Policy at Aotearoa New Zealand's Department of Conservation. 

An experienced environmental policy leader, manager, and advocate, she has experience in the machinery of government and has led collaborative work programmes on a wide range of environmental policy issues. 

Kayla is also a subject-matter specialist in Treaty law, with a particular focus on the interaction between indigenous and colonial legal systems in the context of natural resource management.

You can follow Kayla on LinkedIn

Meet the Board

"I'm delighted to Chair the WWF-New Zealand Board and have the opportunity to help this amazing organisation in delivering its mission of protecting the environment and building a sustainable future for all."

Matthew Valentine

Matthew Valentine - Chair

Matthew is committed to leading good corporate governance practices to deliver impactful conservation outcomes. He brings extensive experience in leading a range of functions including finance, HR, sustainability and health and safety.

Matthew previously served as Manager of Corporate Services at the Wellington Ecosanctuary, ZEALANDIA Te Māra Tāne where he managed the integrated annual report. This work has been internationally recognised by winning a number of awards at the Australasian Reporting Awards, and also domestically at the New Zealand Charity Reporting Awards.

Matthew also played an instrumental role in helping ZEALANDIA Te Māra Tāne becoming a financially sustainable social enterprise over the five years he worked there. 

Matthew is committed to developing good sustainability practices and reporting across organisations in order to reduce carbon emissions. He has also led a number of initiatives to improve health and safety standards including implementing key risk management reporting for Boards.

Matthew's career includes a number of senior finance roles in the public sector, including Chief Financial Officer roles at the State Services Commission and the Ministry of Justice. Matthew holds a BA Honours degree in Economics and is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

Matthew joined the WWF-New Zealand Board of Trustees in November 2021. 

Nicki Douglas (Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Tangata, Ngāti Porou)

Nicki focuses her time and effort on advocating for the environment and on what matters most to Iwi and hapū, supporting where needed. She has worked in the environment sector for two decades with roles in Operations, Strategic leadership and Advisory across the public and Iwi sector.  

Currently, as the Environment Manager at the Te Arawa Lakes Trust, her role focuses on the health and wellbeing of 14 Lakes and their associated waterways, and in supporting the connection to our hapū and Iwi. She also convenes Te Urunga o Kea - Te Arawa Climate  Change Working Group and led the development of a strategy for Te Arawa in response to  climate change.
In addition to her professional commitments, Nicki contributes her time voluntarily to governance roles with her Iwi entity Te Tahuhu o  Tawakeheimoa Trust and represent Ngāti Rangiwewehi as a Trustee on Te Maru o Kaituna, a post settlement co-governance entity for the Kaituna River. 

She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Māori and Indigenous Leadership from the University of Canterbury. 

She is married to Eric Short (Ngāti Porou, Cook Islands) and they have four adult children.

Nicki joined the WWF-New Zealand Board of Trustees in February 2022.

Sam Knowles

Sam is a governance  professional and is on the boards of several young growth companies with international  ambitions. In these roles, he specialises in market and organisational strategy. Prior to taking  up these roles, he was the CEO of Kiwibank, a very successful start-up in retail banking which he led from inception over a 10-year period. 

Sam has had a strong interest in environmental sustainability for many years. Before commencing his banking career he worked as a policy analyst at the New Zealand Treasury after completing a post-graduate degree in Environmental Science. 

Sam lives in Wellington and has three adult children. In his spare time, he is a keen mountain biker and an active traveller.

Sam joined WWF-New Zealand Board of Trustees in May 2018.

Jonathan Mason - Chair Enabling Strategies Committee

Jonathan has had a lifelong passion for local and global ecology that has grown alongside his career as a multinational company finance executive. 

Jonathan grew up in the USA and was educated at Beloit College in Wisconsin and Yale University. He holds degrees in economics, international relations, and business. In his spare time, he developed an interest in birdwatching in high school, by watching the neotropical songbird migration from South America to Canada every May. Jonathan joined US environmental organisations including WWF, the Nature Conservancy, and National Audubon Society, and has been a supporter of these organisations for over 30 years.
Jonathan spent most of his career as a finance executive with International Paper, a forest products company based in the USA as well as Fonterra, New Zealand’s largest dairy cooperative. After retiring from Fonterra 10 years ago, Jonathan has become a Non-Executive Director with current and past positions on the boards of Vector, Zespri, Westpac NZ, the University of Auckland, and Air New Zealand. 
Jonathan joined the WWF-New Zealand Board of Trustees in August 2018 and is the Chair of the Enabling Strategies Committee, focusing on fundraising and financial issues.

Lou Sanson

Lou has spent his entire career in nature, both professionally and for recreation. Notable roles include Director-General, Department of Conservation (2013 – 2021), Chief Executive, Antarctica New Zealand (2002 – 2013), Conservator, Department of Conservation, Southland (1996 – 2002) and Antarctic and NZ Cruise Ship Expedition Leader (1990 – 2020). 

Lou has specialised in history and storytelling in the wild environments of New Zealand, Subantarctic Islands, and Antarctica. He has done over 70 visits to Antarctica and is an acknowledged specialist in New Zealand history, natural history, and marine environments.  

He has led many of New Zealand’s and Antarctica’s most significant environmental programmes. He has unique knowledge of some of the most special and remote parts of New Zealand along with a deep understanding of Māori tikanga and the natural world. His storytelling ability is renowned.

Lou joined the WWF-New Zealand Board of Trustees in November 2021.