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Dr Stephanie Kelly



The Professional

'I understand only too well the challenges of our professional practice worlds. These tools have also helped me immensely in my ongoing professional journey'.

With a professional life spanning over three decades in Canada, remote Australia, and in Aotearoa New Zealand, as a social, community and cultural researcher, organisational advisor, senior education manager, as an adult educator, and as a businessperson, when asked about my professional identity, always I am a sociologist.


My work has led multiple teams and community, government, education and organisational development initiatives, including: community needs analyses, social and environmental impact analyses, scoping analysis, participatory action research, stakeholder engagement frameworks, orgnisational and community ethnography, policy analysis and development, business sustainability, social enterprise development; and housing, employment, poverty, youth, and children's research. 

My 12 year ethnographic research with Ngai Tahu (Maori iwi of Te Waipounamu (South Island of New Zealand), welcomed and invited by kaumatua (tribal elders) and leaders of great mana, who shared their experiences of identity and whakapapa; and my community research with many communities, Maori, Pacific, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and refugee and migrant; have informed my teaching of Professional Leadership Practice, Professional Practice with Diversity, Advancing Professional Practice, Racism and Ethnicity, Biculturalism, Social Policy, Sociology, Supervision and Management in Human Services, and Research, across schools of Health, Nursing, Social Work, Sociology, Anthropology, Maori Studies, and Indigenous Knowledges in vocational and university sectors.

In 1995 I co-founded and directed Coffee Culture Limited, a new coffee concept, and T Teahouse, in the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand.


I currently work as Principal Academic in a suite of postgraduate Professional Practice programmes designed to equip practitioners, mostly working in health and social service roles across diverse sectors to develop their critical leadership, skills, to work with diversity, to work interprofessionally, and to use research and evidence to advance their professional practice in Aotearoa New Zealand. 


For me the privilege of this professional journey, has provided rich experience, skills and understanding of our professional and community worlds.  I aim always to bring a sociological imagination to every professional encounter, and every student, practitioner, community and organisation I engage with.

I see real leadership is nuanced, often quiet, sometimes silent; seen and felt by those who are just actively getting on with it in selfless yet critically informed and astute ways, contributing to seemingly small outcomes for humanity.


These small outcomes are events and practices and form part of the wicked solutions needed for sustaining and thriving in our professional lives, buffeted by the social issues of our times.

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What Professional Poise offers: Sociologically informed

  • Professional supervision – for managers and interprofessional practitioners

  •  Leadership training and development – community, iwi, organisation, and personal

  • Identity and diversity training and analysis

  • Workplace oppression and bullying analysis, profiling, and risk rating for solutions

  • Organisational and community ethnography and life history

  • Policy development

  • Strategic planning

  • Training solutions


PhD, MA, BA Honours, BA Sociology, University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

National New Zealand Certificate in Professional Workplace Supervision

National Level 5 New Zealand Certificate in Adult Teaching and Education.

Current memberships, committee representation, and international academic contributions

New Zealand PBRF ranked researcher.

Member Sociological Association of New Zealand (SAANZ).


Affiliate Member Australasian Association of Supervision (AAOS).


Member NAISA (Native American and Indigenous Studies Association)


Co-Editor Whitireia Nursing and Health Journal Editorial Committee, New Zealand


Member several Governance and Operational committees.


Peer Reviewer for the following journals:

  • International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities, and Nations, Common Ground Research Networks

  • Sociology Mind Online Journal.

The Personal

Born in the city often referred to as the most diverse in the world  – Toronto Canada, I grew up in an Irish Canadian family. My parents, while young, bravely left their large families and the ‘troubles’ of Northern Ireland to raise us in Canada.   I grew up learning to value hard work, education, spirituality, and comfort with change. Perhaps my own whakapapa to a place of colonisation, and a life punctuated by movement, sparked and curated a sociological and ethnographic imagination. When I was 19 years old, I moved to Christchurch New Zealand, where my academic, research and business life truly emerged.  Here I raised my own family as a single parent. My true joy. After the experiences of the Christchurch earthquakes, my professional journey led me to work in education management developing strategy, policy, governance, marketing, quality assurance and multiple community, prison, and community development and training initiatives with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, in the remote Northern Territory of Australia.  I returned to the beauty of Aotearoa New Zealand, privileged to work and explore the stunning Wellington region.

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