My time as a YWCA Canberra Board Trainee – Georgina Horsburgh

6 July 2017

Jessica Abramovic

Jessica is the Communications and Events Coordinator at YWCA Canberra.

YWCA Canberra is committed to fostering the growth and development of young women leaders. Each year, our Board of Directors conducts the Board Traineeship Program, which provides women with the opportunity to gain experience in governance, finance and strategic management without the legal and financial responsibilities of being a Board Director. 

We caught up with Georgina Horsburgh, who is about to complete her Board Traineeship for the 2016-2017 period, to discuss her experience on the YWCA Canberra board.

Georgina trained as a lawyer. She has also spent quite a lot of time on stage (often when she should have been studying law). Georgina has experience across the government, legal and not-for-profit sectors in Australia and overseas. She has worked as Legal Editor in the High Court of Solomon Islands (as part of the Australian Aid Program), Judge’s Associate, not-for-profit researcher and government lawyer. Georgina believes that more and diverse female voices in the public sphere are critical to providing role models for young women and girls. Georgina holds a Master of International Affairs and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Australian National University, and a dual Law/Arts degree from the University of Queensland. She likes words and Les Mills fitness classes.

What attracted you to apply for a Traineeship on the Board of YWCA Canberra?

The Y is about female empowerment, which is something I care deeply about. I was also really interested in learning about not-for-profit governance. The Board Traineeship is a unique opportunity to work in a secular organisation with many impressive women who have a range of professional and life experiences.

What exactly does a Board Trainee of YWCA Canberra do?

Trainees participate in the Board’s work in an observer role. We also have the opportunity to join subcommittees, such as Finance (of which I’m a part). Board trainees read board papers, attend meetings and events, and engage and contribute via online platforms. We are also mentored by Board members.

How would you describe the Board’s contribution to the on-the-ground activities of The Y’s staff, members and community?

My observation is that the Board takes its responsibilities very seriously. I understand that the Board is personally and legally invested in owning its decisions about how to steer the organisation. This is not always an easy task.

What is the personal and career significance of having the opportunity to be a Board Trainee?

Both personally and professionally, I’ve valued the opportunity to participate in the Board’s work. I’ve learnt about governance, finance and conflict resolution (among other things), which I hope to apply and develop in my career – whether in government, the private sector or self-employment. Meeting women who are so self-motivated and interested in something bigger than themselves has also been a source of inspiration.

In your opinion, why is it important for young women to be represented on The Y’s board?

Ideally, the Board should represent women of many different ages and life experiences – particularly women who are traditionally underrepresented in leadership roles. This is because there’s strength in decision making that’s informed by diverse views and experiences. Young women have a particular contribution to make because they represent a large proportion of the membership base in Canberra, shaping much of what the Y does in the programs and advocacy space. Young women have a lot to contribute as innovators and future leaders.

What kind of women do you think should apply to be a Board Trainee in the future?

I think if you can see the relevance of the Y’s mission to your own life – and/or the lives of other women – and you are interested in personal and professional development, this is a great opportunity to do work that aligns with your values.

When you’re not at Board meetings, what do you do professionally?

I work as a policy adviser for government.

How do you see your leadership journey evolving in the next five years?

Authentically and creatively.

Applications for the 2017-2018 Board Traineeship will open in September 2017. Join our Newsletter to stay up-to-date with all future YWCA Canberra opportunities.

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