Our Board

YWCA Canberra operates under a strong governance model and is governed by a board of up to 12 company directors who define the strategic goals of the organisation.

Our Board of Directors operates according to a Code of Ethics and Proper Practice. A governance manual guides the work of the Directors and establishes the relationship between the Board and the Chief Executive Officer.

Our Constitution guides our work and sets out the fundamental principles under which our organisation is governed. It was last amended at the Extraordinary General Meeting on 16 May 2018.

We actively seek potential Board candidates who have a belief in and commitment to our values and vision, and a commitment to work for the greater good of the organisation. We also look for potential Board candidates who possess the knowledge, expertise, experience and networks relevant to our needs.

To register your interest in joining our board, please contact the Chief Executive Director on 02 6185 2000 or email us.

Chief Executive Officer – Frances Crimmins

Frances has a passion to see women achieve their potential and shape their communities. Having started her career in hotel management she soon developed strong leadership and management skills which saw her take on senior human resources roles in the health sector. Frances’ natural drive and pursuit of excellence resulted in her former employer gaining accreditation as an Employer of Choice for Women, and ACT Employer of the Year for Apprenticeships & Traineeships. 

Frances was drawn to YWCA Canberra in 2010 as she had always identified as a feminist, and has a strong belief in social justice, which she attributes to her mother’s influence. Having faced discrimination during her own career journey, she is now committed to being a strong voice for women. 

Frances has been the CEO of YWCA Canberra since 2013. She has led YWCA Canberra through a significant change processes in integrated services delivery, corporate service review and evaluation frameworks. In response to identified community need, including during the COVID-19 crisis, Frances has spearheaded a range of new programs in the areas of addressing domestic and family violence and women’s homelessness, as well as empowering women to take authentic leadership journeys. 

Frances is the Chair of the ACT Council of Social Service, and volunteers on a variety of other boards and committees including: National Older Women’s Housing and Homelessness Working Group and Homelessness Australia. Frances is a former Board Director of WESNET, former Chair of the ACT Ministerial Advisory Committee for Women, former Co-Chair of Anti-Poverty Week in the ACT and former Board Director of No Sweat Fashion. 

In 2015, Frances received an Edna Ryan Award for advancing the status of women in the ACT. In 2016, Frances was named ACT Leader of the Year at the Australian Leadership Excellence Awards run by the Australian Institute of Leadership and Management. She also attended Commission for the Status of Women in New York in 2017, 2018 and 2019. 

President - Carina Zeccola*

Carina Zeccola first served on the YWCA Canberra board from March 2017 to October 2019 and was elected again in October 2019. During her first period on the Board, Carina was the Governance Committee Chair and on the Merger and Nominations subcommittees. Before her time on the YWCA Board, Carina was a Treasurer for Canberra Women in Business from 2013-15.

As a practicing lawyer in the areas of property and commercial and commercial law, Carina is passionate about implementing sound practices through innovation, strong governance, management, service delivery and partnerships.


Vice President - Ashleigh Streeter*

Ashleigh Streeter has led youth campaigning for World Vision, assisted Plan International Australia’s youth activist series, and in 2019, organized and co-hosted the Canberra Womens March. She is the incoming Deputy Curator of Global Shapers and previously co-founded both Jasiri Australia’s Girls Takeover Parliament in 2017 and Trailblazer program in 2018. She has advocated for youth and gender equality on an international level, including on the UN Women Youth Taskforce and at the Commission on the Status of Women.

Treasurer - Katie Whitehead

Katie was appointed to the Board in October 2018. She has over 20 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector and advocating and representing their value to members, government and other stakeholders. Katie also has strong financial and corporate management experience, including executive responsibilities for finance and budgeting operations, and strategic and business planning.

Julie Lean

Julie Lean was appointed to the board in October 2019. She is currently Secretariat for the Planning Institute of Australia Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee and a member of the Engineers Australia House Body Corporate Executive Committee and was the Company Secretary for the Law Council of Australia Board from 2012-16.

As a CA and CPA qualified accountant, Julie has been a management accountant, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer.

Her lifelong task is to push our community to a time where women are respected and valued at all levels of society.

Kristin Blume

Kristin Blume was appointed to the board in October 2019. As an ACT Government employee, Kristin is working to develop ways of measuring quality of life for Canberrans, including working with the ACT Office for Women on how identity and gender can impact wellbeing outcomes.

After returning to a leadership role following parental leave for her second child, Kristin worked with small social enterprise Lead Mama Lead to help other mothers returning to work or negotiating flexible work.

With an educational background in program management, international law and international relations, Kristin has experience in risk management and program evaluation, including running the project office for the ACT stage 1 light rail project.

Georgina Carnell*

Georgina was appointed to the board in November 2020. As a Senior Consultant at Protiviti, Georgina has experience in audit, risk and business performance improvement. Georgina is passionate about innovation, in particular using design-thinking techniques to enable groups to collaboratively enact productive change through uncovering root causes to current challenges.

Georgina holds a bachelor of politics and international relations, majoring in national security and information systems.

Vivian Chan*

Vivian was appointed to the board in November 2020 after being a YWCA Canberra board trainee in 2019-20. She has key skills in governance, strategic planning and corporate services (fraud and compliance, organisational performance and assurance) through working in the Australian Public Service.

Vivian is passionate about intersectionality and empowering CALD communities and young women, including women of colour and those identifying as LGBTQIA*. She takes a leadership role to strengthen workplace inclusion and career development opportunities for others. Vivian established the CALD committee in the Department of Social Services, providing advisory and advocacy services to staff. She is currently the Secretary of the CALD Committee and an Advocacy and Outreach Officer in the Women’s Network in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. She volunteers for a range of projects that align with her goals and passions to empower others to thrive, including a translation project with Moving Feast by STREAT for CALD Communities in Victoria and a governance project with Project Didi Australia which works with human trafficking survivors in Nepal.

Vice President - Emma Fitch*

Emma was appointed to the board in October 2019. Emma has over eight years of strategic legal policy experience from across federal, state and local governments and First Nations not-for-profits, as well as issues regarding women and the law from tutoring and writing academic peer-reviewed law journals at the University of Canberra. Her background in strategic legal policy is grounded in experience from the Australian Institute of Criminology, ACT Corrections, federal Immigration and Agriculture departments and NGOs in the Ngarrindjeri Nation. She is currently a Team Leader within the Legislation & Policy team at ACT Policing.

Having been raised by strong feminist women in a rainbow family, Emma has a strong sense of social justice that drives her to find solutions to work towards overcoming the barriers faced by disadvantaged groups. She is particularly passionate about the empowerment of First Nations peoples.

Emma holds a Bachelor of Arts (Forensic Psychology and Criminology), Bachelor of Laws (with First Class Honours in Family Law), Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, and Masters in International Law, specialising in Peace & Security, Environmental Law and Middle Eastern Studies.

Anita Vardanega

Anita Vardanega was appointed to the board in October 2019. She is a CPA qualified accountant and Deputy Chief Financial Officer of Raytheon Australia. Anita is previously worked to establish the Leidos Women’s Advocacy Network, Leidos’ bespoke leadership program and women’s mentoring program, while in her role as Deputy CFO. She was the Chief Financial Officer during the setup of the Naval Shipbuilding College in Adelaide in 2018, and early leadership roles included the Finance and Business Manager at CIT.

As a female leader in Canberra, Anita is passionate about supporting the Canberra community, particularly in the area of youth engagement, providing mentorship and support to young women and those returning to work, mental health and physical health and fitness and housing support.

Di Bakon

Di was appointed to the YWCA board in October 2019. She is an experienced board member with several years experience as a board member for national not-for-profit Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA). Di brings a wealth of knowledge as she has previously served as the Chairperson for the IAHA Finance, Audit and Risk Committee as well as committee member for the IAHA National and International Conference Committee.

Di is a Gamilaroi woman who has a strong interest and commitment to social justice and giving a voice to the most vulnerable in society. Within her role at IAHA she contributed to a range of national leadership activities such as workshops, advisory and working groups, conferences and committees focused on transforming the allied health sector to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Di currently works for the federal government and has a background in health leadership, policy development, community development and events. Di volunteers her time to a range of public sector networks and reconciliation efforts. In 2016, Di was a recipient of a Secretary’s Award for her efforts in reconciliation. Di was also awarded a volunteer service award for her community work in Kathmandu, Nepal as an occupational therapist in a special education school. Di looks forward to linking her networks, skills and experiences to the work of the YWCA Board, Reconciliation Committee and Community Engagement Committee.

a photo Maree Harman

Maree Harman

Maree Harman was appointed to the YWCA board in March 2021. She has approximately 25 years of experience in the property sector in the ACT and region and has a wealth of understanding of property valuation, statutory and master planning, and the financial aspects of property development.

Maree currently serves on Property Council of Australia and Australian Property Institute committees related to residential property and planning.

She has a keen interest in the provision of housing for families and older women in need. She believes the mission of YWCA Canberra is more important than ever in a post-pandemic world, given the rise in domestic violence against women and economic conditions pushing some families to the brink.

Independent member for the Audit and Risk Committee - Bridget Browne

Bridget is a Partner at EY providing actuarial consulting advice principally to the government sector in health and human services, and risk quantification.

She has over 30 years’ experience in life course risks both in Australia and internationally and is a Certified Enterprise Risk Actuary and a Fellow of both the Institute of Actuaries of Australia and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, UK.

She has completed the Company Director’s Course to become a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Bridget has lectured in actuarial studies and risk management at the Australian National University with a research focus on aged care, mortality, longevity and securitisation of these risks, and is a member of the Centre for Excellence in Population Ageing Research in Australia.

Independent member for the Audit and Risk Committee - Victoria Oakden

Victoria is the Director of Oakden Enterprises, an innovative small business that provides specialised advice and services to the community, disability and aged care sectors. A registered nurse with over 25 years’ experience, Victoria has an MBA from the Australian National University and worked for over a decade as a Registered Quality Assessor for the Australian Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

With a background as a Clinical Risk Manager and Clinical Incident Review Coordinator, Victoria is passionate about applying her nursing knowledge, skills and experience to create practical, quality outcomes for clients. She has worked with public, private and not-for-profit organisations on projects including incident reporting and management, auditing and quality assurance, continuous improvement, customer feedback, performance appraisal, and policy review and development.

* Denotes young women (aged 30 years or under) at time of appointment. The YWCA maintains a commitment to ensuring that 30% of all leadership positions and decision-making bodies are held by young women.