Our Board

YWCA Canberra operates under a strong governance model and is governed by a board of 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.

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 volunteers on a variety of 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 - Skye Saunders

Dr Skye Saunders of the Australian National University College of Law is a leading expert in gender issues in rural Australia. Her work, Whispers from the Bush – The Workplace Sexual Harassment of Australian Rural Women (Federation Press, 2015), is the first in Australia to focus on the nature and prevalence of sexual harassment in rural workplaces.

In 2018, Skye was appointed to the YWCA Australia delegation to the United Nations 62nd Commission on the Status of Women, focusing on the empowerment of rural women and girls. She also recently taught a comparative US/Australian Gender Law program at the University of Alabama.

In 2017, Skye collaborated with the Victorian Women’s Trust (VWT) to produce a short film called Grace Under Fire. The film was launched by Chief Justice Diana Bryant, and is available to schools, workplaces and individuals who wish to host a screening. Skye has also worked with the VWT to develop a community education pack for national distribution.

Skye is a regular speaker at national and international conferences and events, and also contributes to major Australian newspapaers. Skye also recently interviewed Dr Anne Summers AO as part of YWCA Canberra’s She Leads In-Conversation series. She was awarded the Chancellor’s 2017 Distinguished Young Alumni Award (University of Canberra).

Prior to joining the Australian National University, Skye practised as an Employment Relations/Discrimination solicitor in a large commercial firm.

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.

Adele Pickering

Adele was appointed to the Board in October 2018. She is currently the General Manager and Director of CentreRED IT and has previously held senior positions in several male-dominated industries such as Construction, Automotive, and Information Communication and Technology. She has the strong view that organisations and communities which embrace gender equality both improve the quality of life for women, provide broader community benefits through diverse views and sets a positive example for young women, encouraging them into what may have been previously male-only roles or positions.

Sophie Fisher*

Sophie was a Trainee on the Board of YWCA Canberra in 2016-17 and is also a member of the Y’s Finance, HR and Membership sub-committees. She holds a Bachelor of International Relations and is studying a Master of Asian and Pacific Studies at the Australian National University. Growing up in Tasmania, she has always been passionate about the environment and currently works for the Australian government managing international fisheries stocks. Sophie volunteers her spare time as a tutor for young migrant and refugee women in the community and has recently used a Great Ydeas grant to establish a learn-to-ride program, Girls on Bikes. As a young woman with lived experience of mental illness, she is also a Youth Ambassador at Reach Out.


Ashleigh Streeter*

Ashleigh has worked alongside groups including the Young Australians in International Affairs, Plan International Australia, the Campaign for Australian Aid, and began her career working with World Vision for four years in fundraising and youth advocacy at both a state and national level.

She has a background in not for profits and is experienced in youth leadership, strategic campaigning, political advocacy. She was invited to run two workshops at the Youth Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 2017 before attending NGO CSW in New York and joining the UN Women Youth Task Force. Ashleigh currently sits on the Australian Civil Society Coalition for Women Peace and Security and was part of Plan International’s Youth Activist Series, running the Girls Takeover in both 2017 and the State Government take overs in 2018. Her volunteer experience involves working on projects to empower young women, including the Gender Chat twitter series. She is a board trainee with YWCA Canberra and ran Future 21, Young Australians in International Affair’s annual conference in 2017. For this work, Ashleigh was named the ACT Woman of the Year 2018 and was listed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list. She is currently a Foundation for Young Australians Young Social Pioneer in the class of 2018.

Ashleigh holds a Bachelors in International Relations/ Politics, an Honours degree in Politics, and a Masters in Diplomacy at The Australian National University.

Nicole Platt

Nicole was appointed to the Board in October 2018. She is a qualified accountant and lawyer. Nicole was the Secretary of the Residential building (Canberra City) Executive Committee from 2013-2018 and the Chair of the Residential building (Lawson) Executive Committee from 2017-2018.

Emma Fitch*

Emma was appointed to the board in October 2019. As Legal Practitioner and Research Assistant and tutor at the University of Canberra’s Faculty of Business, Government and Law, Emma has experience with issues regarding women and the law and empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. She also has a background in strategic legal policy from the Australian Institute of Criminology, ACT Corrections, federal Immigration and Agriculture departments and NGOs in the Ngarrindjeri Nation. She is currently an Assistant Director in Murray-Darling Basin legal policy.

Having been raised by two strong feminist women, Emma has a strong sense of social justice that drives her to find solutions to work towards overcoming the barriers faced by disadvantaged groups.

Emma holds a Bachelor of Arts (Forensic Psychology, Law and Society, Social Policy and Criminology), Bachelor of Laws (with First Class Honours in family law), and is currently undertaking a Masters in International 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 Leidos Australia. Anita is currently working to establish the Leidos Women’s advocacy group and is a Board member of not-for-profit women in STEM organisation Homeward Bound. She was the Chief Financial Officer during the setup of the Naval Shipbuilding College in Adelaide in 2018, and previously 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 engaging, providing mentorship and support to young women and those returning to work, and housing support.

* 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.