Bernie Lepper, a longtime resident of Alexandra, has been honored with the Queen’s Service Medal for her tireless efforts in education and community service. Bernie has been integral to the Alexandra community, notably helping establish the Alexandra Community House in 2007, a venue she has helped develop into a central hub that now hosts 16 social services agencies, local artisans, and is utilized by 150 community groups.
Since 1998, Bernie has served as the manager of the Central Otago Rural Education Activities Programme (REAP), spearheading various social and educational initiatives that aid the vulnerable. She successfully led REAP’s facilitation of Strengthening Families, a project by Oranga Tamariki aimed at supporting at-risk families and whānau.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Bernie’s leadership was instrumental in the creation of the Ministry of Social Development Community Connector Role, which supported community cohesion and wellbeing, while partnering with Otago Polytechnic and Community House to offer a Learning Hub and digital courses for those lacking internet access.
Additionally, she has contributed six years of service to REAP Aotearoa, aiding its growth and mentoring education leaders across New Zealand. Between 2010 to 2019, she held the role of trustee for Central Lake Trust.
Bernie credits her success and recognition to the support of those she has worked with, expressing her eagerness to celebrate this achievement with them.
She says that her enduring passion for education, and belief in its transformative power, has been the driving force behind her contributions. Currently she is exploring South Korea on a cycling trip with her husband.
Read more about Bernie’s award below: