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 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.

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.

Jo Farrell

Jo has been in the construction industry for over two decades, starting as an apprentice carpenter, and is now the General Manager of Kane Constructions ACT. She has worked across the eastern seaboard on airport runways, schools, hospitals and defence projects and notably spent three years in Lithuania working on a nuclear decommissioning facility and learning Russian.

Jo is vocal and passionate about seeing more tradeswomen in the industry. She founded her own not-for-profit organisation, Build Like A Girl, in 2020 and works with government bodies and industry to implement pathway programs for apprenticeships.

Her aim is to achieve greater equality for women in the building industry, as well as in our community and society in general.

Julie Lean

Julie Lean was appointed to the board in October 2019.

She is a senior finance and governance professional with significant experience in professional practice. Her passion especially lies in the not-for-profit sector, having spent a combined 20 years in senior finance and governance roles within the sector. She is wholeheartedly committed to instituting best practice finance, risk and governance operations while actively promoting and encouraging all forms of diversity.

Julie is currently the National Finance Manager of the Planning Institute of Australia. Before this role, Julie was Company Secretary and the Director of Finance and Corporate Services at the Law Council of Australia, and in leadership roles at the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia. During her time at these organisations, she implemented significant improvements to finance, administration and corporate governance operations, policies and procedures.

Kirsty Martin*

Kirsty is a Management Consultant specialising in risk management, governance, assurance and internal audit. She has a Bachelor of Commerce (majoring in Public Sector Management) and a Bachelor of Communications (majoring in Advertising). She is also the Treasurer of the ACT Broomball Association.

A Canberra local and passionate feminist, Kirsty has particular interests in welfare policy, housing policy and LGBTQIA+ rights. She has a desire to bring power back to communities to give people agency and the ability to influence the decisions that impact their lives.

Kristin Blume

Kristin Blume was appointed to the board in October 2019.

With a background in policy, program management and public sector leadership, Kristin has skills in risk management and program evaluation, governance and policy understanding, and stakeholder engagement.

An ACT Government employee since 2004, Kristin has worked in a variety of roles in social and economic policy, transport planning, and the ACT light rail Stage one project, where she led the project office team for the 12 months before services began.

Since 2019, Kristin has led the development of the ACT Wellbeing Framework, Australia’s first wellbeing framework that is being embedded into budgets and other parts of government decision-making.

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

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.

Megan Palmer*

An associate at Sayers, Megan has a background in business and experience working across large Federal Government organisations.

She is passionate about working with people and using her expertise to support clients in their transformation journey. Megan thrives in supporting clients in communications management and working with stakeholders to improve business performance.

Megan is excited at the opportunity to bring this experience and passion to helping create change for women.

Talulah Gaunt*

Talulah is passionate about being part of a fair society that is cultivated through collaboration and understanding. She is currently manager of the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme, and has worked for several not-for-profit organisations in both Australia and the UK.

Talulah’s experience is predominately in corporate engagement and partnerships management, with a focus on working with corporates to improve farm animal welfare across supply chains. Through this, she has been actively involved in, and driven, the development of corporate public facing policy, ESG reporting, CSR strategies and benchmarking initiatives.

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.