Sustainable philanthropy as a core value

Spotlight on Teresa Moore, CEO of the Catalytic Foundation

Teresa Moore has been at the helm of the Catalytic Foundation since 2018. During this time, she has used her compassionate nature, business acumen, financial savviness, and people skills to drive social change throughout Aotearoa. However, going forward, she sees the need to strengthen the connection between young people and the natural environment.

Through her work with over 200 charities nationwide, Teresa has identified that building the connection between young people and the natural environment is highly beneficial for the environment and those youths who connect with charities throughout Aotearoa because of their personal challenges. This also reflects a step toward achieving the United Nation’s sustainable development goal relating to education that focusses on ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning.

She said, “I believe our young people can really benefit from learning in and about the natural environment. Through the charities we work with, I can see that many of our young people are struggling because they don’t feel like they have a direction or purpose in life. Once the charities we work alongside help these young people establish a sense of purpose, their lives turn around for the better. For me, I can see the dual benefit of supporting charities that encourage these young people to build a passion for the environment.”

Teresa understands the sense of responsibility and benefits a connection with the environment brings because of her foundations in marine biology and sustainability. Teresa has a Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology and earned a Master of Management with her thesis on renewable energy. This passion and experience has well-equipped her to identify the benefits and challenges of supporting community projects with an environmental focus.

Teresa said, “It is my lifelong ambition to care for the environment and to pass on an appreciation for the environment to future generations. Planting the seeds of environmental awareness in the fertile minds of the young is like planting a tree. With time and nurturing, this seed grows into a steadfast force, shaping individual actions and influencing future choices. Early environmental education helps children and young people develop the roots that ground their values, the branches that reach towards sustainable choices, and the leaves that reflect green initiatives in every aspect of life. Learning about the environment at a young age is not merely an act of planting a tree; it is about growing a forest of guardians for our planet's future."

Teresa has had the opportunity to witness first-hand the benefits of getting youths involved in caring for our environment by leveraging the Catalytic Foundation work with Sustainable Coastlines (volunteering and STEM education activities) and as an umbrella charity for Within Nature. The Northland charity WithinNature helps youth face their challenges by refocusing them on whakapakari whenua (regenerating the land). The youth, who are directed to the programme through youth providers and marae, work on restoring degraded ecosystems and revitalising the land while strengthening their cultural identity, learning leadership skills, and understanding the need to care for, and not exploit, the land.  

Explaining how she fell in love with nature, Teresa said, “I was born in Whangārei and while visiting my grandfather, I would sit on the wharf at Port Albert, and listen to him talk about the ecosystem around us. I fell in love with the ocean because of its life force. That passion has helped me pursue opportunities I would never have thought possible.”

For example, Teresa went on to work as a scientist aboard deep-sea trawlers and has sailed in every major ocean around the world. She established a sailing boat charter company in NZ and Tonga and has also served as CEO for the Sir Peter Blake Marine Education Centre. She accredits the inspiration for this work to those earlier days with her grandfather, her mentor, who took the time to show her the environment around her. 

Teresa’s current work with the Catalytic Foundation sees her supporting youth charities and social based services from Northland to Invercargill. She plays an active role in obtaining and managing large donations to ensure smaller charities, who may not have the capacity or skills to access larger grants, are given financial support, mentoring, and any other help they may need.

In addition to this, as CEO of the Catalytic Foundation, Teresa works closely with companies to help them meet their sustainable development goals and attract and retain the best staff by involving them in bespoke volunteering opportunities, as part of the quarterly Catalytic community support campaigns.

Teresa believes mighty trees grow from small seeds! If you too would like to support our environment, our youth and their mentors, please consider becoming a regular donor to the Catalytic Foundation. For further details please click here.