Member Spotlight: Rebecca Thorby

Name: Rebecca Thorby
LinkedIn: Rebecca (Richards) Thorby

Organisation/Employer/University: Sport Waikato (Regional Sports Trust), New Zealand
Areas of Interest: Quality physical activity experiences for children and young people and increasing physical activity levels of our people through community-led activations.

Are you looking to collaborate? Yes
I am open to collaborating with: Researchers, academics, other physical activity organisations, policymakers, and mentors

My weekend active activity of choice:
Walking with family and puppy along the many local tracks and beaches. Raglan beach and bush walks in Pirongia Forest Park are among my current favourites.

How you became involved in PA:
My experience with physical activity has not always been a positive one, especially at secondary school. Over the years I have had both good and poor physical activity experiences, and currently recreate through walking, cycling and tramping/hiking. As a result, I am passionate about creating experiences that everyone can enjoy and advocate for those that are missing out.

I have always been passionate about my community and wanted to work for a non-for-profit organisation that contributed to improving people’s wellbeing. I also recognised that there was a need for interpreting information and research into tangible outcomes that made sense to those that were making the decisions (i.e., policy makers, politicians, people in governance positions).

This is what I do…
I enable policy makers (at all levels) to practice evidence-based decision making and investment through the provision of insights, research and evaluative methods. I am the bridge that connects the policy and decision maker to the researchers and academics through the communication and interpretation of data/results into digestible bite-sized and actionable pieces of information. I advocate for change in the physical activity sectors (play, active recreation and sport) through Moving Waikato, a regional strategy for physical activity through play, active recreation and sport in the Waikato region (New Zealand), alongside regional and national partners. 

… that…
Everyone has access to quality physical activity experiences and develop a lifelong love of physical activity.

Find out more about Rebecca’s role:
Rebecca Thorby (MSc) is an Insights and Evaluation manager at Sport Waikato, one of Aotearoa/New Zealand’s 14 Regional Sports Trusts. Prior to this role she was a geologist, inhouse geochemist (Perth, Australia), and a lab assistant/researcher at the University of Waikato. She has a strong technical background in research and data analysis. Rebecca is passionate about interpreting evidence and data into a useable and digestible format for policy and decision makers to make informed decisions. In her role she drives the monitoring and evaluation of the regional strategy (Moving Waikato) and is often positioned as interpreter between academics and decision makers, including regional and local government, regional sport organisations and Sport NZ, enabling pragmatic and practical approaches to advocate for improvement in quality physical activity experiences for Waikato people.

 Most recently Rebecca co-facilitated a review of the regional strategy for play, active recreation and sport with the Moving Waikato advisory group, which includes members from local government, the University of Waikato, Waikato District Health Board, Sport NZ, and regional representatives from primary and secondary education providers.