Waikato alumna gives back to her community

21 May 2020

Rachel Karalus

Building a career based on giving back has always been a priority for University of Waikato alumna Rachel Karalus.

After completing her Professional Legal Studies Course at the University of Waikato Rachel worked as a successful commercial litigator for 15 years. She represented local government clients during the leaky homes crisis and was involved in developing the law of negligence in New Zealand.

With her third child on the way, Rachel decided that it was time to make a career change to a role that better aligned with her values and beliefs of giving back.

Rachel says that she stepped into purpose after moving her young family back to the Waikato in 2017 to take on the role of Chief Executive for K’aute Pasifika Trust. The trust provides health, education and social services to Pasifika communities and all other ethnicities who wish to access their services other across the Waikato and Midlands region.

Rachel is proud of the impact that the K’aute Pasifika Trust is having on communities. A long held aspiration of the pacific community has been the development of the first Pan Pacific Hub in Hamilton. K’aute Pasifika has championed delivering on this aspirations for a hub that includes community buildings, an education centre, and outdoor recreational areas. Earlier this year the Hamilton City Council voted unanimously to move ahead with the project.

More recently, the organisation helped many Waikato families during challenging times due to Covid-19. “With the support of our suppliers, Hamilton City Council, volunteers and funders our team was able to responsibly and efficiently deliver more than 1300 care packages to vulnerable families during the levels three and four lockdown. We will be there to support them moving forward,” says Rachel.

Studying at the University of Waikato over the years has provided Rachel with the skills to lead her team through projects such as these. “The Community and Enterprise Leadership Foundation (CELF) programme enabled me to develop my own voice as a leader and my time with the Te Piringa Faculty of Law helped me to build strong connections through the lecturers.”

It is not just the Pasifika community that is privy to Rachel’s talents. She holds governance roles across a variety of sectors for organisations such as the Pacific Business Trust, Child Matters, St Joseph’s Primary School, Momentum Waikato Community Foundation Trust Board and the Hamilton Christian Night Shelter.

For Rachel, it all comes back to having a job that aligns with your values. “I can sleep at night knowing that my work aligns with my purpose and most importantly, my values.”

Her advice for anyone looking to make a values-based career change is to seek input from a career’s advisor or mentor. “I sat down with a life coach and talked through my strengths, weaknesses and values and worked out not only where I wanted to be, but how to transition to that place.”

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