Published : 18 May 2021

Deputy Public Service Commissioner Helene Quilter has today announced the appointment of Renee Graham as Chief Executive, Social Wellbeing Agency.

The Social Wellbeing Agency works across the Public Service, providing strategic expertise and advice on complex social issues.

“I’m very pleased to appoint Ms Graham to this role,” Ms Quilter said.

“She is a proven leader in the Public Service with a track record of delivery. Ms Graham has a strong social policy background and experience across a range of domains including education and employment.”

Ms Graham is currently Secretary for Women and Chief Executive, Ministry for Women – a role she has held since June 2017. She has previously held senior policy roles at the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Development.

As Secretary for Women, Ms Graham co-led work to develop and implement the action plan to eliminate the Gender Pay Gap in the public service. The pay gap for 2020 is 9.6 percent, the lowest since measurement began in 2000 when the gap was 16.6 percent. She also led the Ministry’s work to increase the representation of women in senior leadership and governance roles across the public and private sectors.

Ms Graham has forged collaborative partnerships across the Public Service in areas that include the Mana Wāhine Kaupapa Inquiry to improve outcomes for wāhine Māori, pay equity, women’s safety from violence, measuring ethnic diversity on boards, and gender in trade.

“Ms Graham is an experienced and inclusive Public Service leader,” Ms Quilter said. “I am confident she will build and strengthen the Social Wellbeing Agency’s system-leadership role and strategic policy and influencing capability.”

Ms Graham has been appointed for three years from 19 June 2021.


Media queries: Grahame Armstrong: 021 940 457. 



Ms Graham has been Secretary for Women and Chief Executive, Ministry for Women since June 2017. 

From 2014-2017, Ms Graham was the Ministry of Education’s Policy Director and Chief Policy Analyst – Education System Policy  

Before this, from 2010-2014, Ms Graham worked at the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) in general manager roles for Income Support, Employment and Skills Policy as well as Youth and Employment Policy. She was also policy manager in Youth and Employment Policy and Older People’s and International Relations. 

From 2009-2010, she was an adviser in the Office of the Deputy Chief Executive Work and Income. 

From 2008-2009, Ms Graham was private secretary in the Office of the Minister for Social Development and Employment. 

Between 1993-2008 she held a number of roles at MSD.  

Ms Graham holds a Master of Public Policy (with merit) and a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration degrees from Victoria University of Wellington. 


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