Contact Welcoming Communities

If you have any questions about Welcoming Communities or want to get involved, please contact the Welcoming Communities Coordinators for Queenstown Lakes District Council, Silvia Dancose or Hemi Cordell for Wānaka-Upper Clutha.

Meet our coordinators

  • Silvia Dancose is Canadian-born and comes from a mixed background; her father was French-Canadian and her mother was Mexican. She is fluent in French, Spanish and English.  Silvia moved to Hamilton, New Zealand in 2011 and has been living in Queenstown since December 2019.

    Her career pathway has led her to occupy many roles in the NGO sector working alongside and advocating for newcomers, migrants and refugees. In Canada, she worked at the Centre for Canadian Language Benchmarks, a national centre of expertise in support of the national standards in English and French language proficiency in immigration, education, workplace and community settings. 

    In New Zealand, she worked for nearly 9 years for New Zealand Red Cross in the areas of settlement and employment of refugee background persons. One of her most recent roles was Regional Manager in Central Otago for Red Cross Visitor Care Manaaki Manuhiri in 2020, a COVID-19 relief programme funded by DIA aiming at supporting temporary visa holders facing hardship.

    Silvia describes herself having a natural inclination to connect with people from all ethnic backgrounds and walks of life. Her upbringing has a lot to do with the fact that she lived in many developing countries as a child and teenager because of her father’s work. She is passionate about diversity, inclusion and equity and considers them as integral parts of any welcoming community. By taking a gentle approach to demystify these concepts in practice and celebrating what’s already diversely rich and socially cohesive, Queenstown Lakes can become even more welcoming.

    Silvia has recently completed a Certificate in Intercultural Studies to complement her Post-Graduate Diploma in Adult Education and bachelor’s degree in Education. Silvia lives with her Kiwi partner and has two young adult children, one currently studying and living in Canada.

  • Hemi Cordell was born in Auckland and was raised in the occupied Palestinian territories, Bangladesh, England, and India. Hemi returned to New Zealand in 2018 with his partner, Catrin, and has resided in Wānaka since returning home. Currently pursuing a master’s degree in international development at Massey University, he brings a wealth of experience from his work in the social and community development sector.

    Hemi’s skills in team building, management, and project coordination are poised to make a meaningful impact in his new role. While you may have crossed paths with him during his time with Wānaka Wastebusters and Kahu Youth, his commitment to community service extends beyond professional roles, as exemplified by his role as a Volunteer Firefighter alongside acting as the UFBA (United Fire Brigades Association) representative for the Wānaka Fire Brigade.

    Excited to apply his academic insights and passion for community development in a professional setting, Hemi looks forward to contributing to our team’s success. His diverse experiences and genuine commitment to social well-being make him a valuable addition to our organisation.


Get in touch with the team