Meet a member: Catherine Mahoney

11 August 2015

Zoya Patel

Zoya is the Senior Manager of Corporate Relations and Communication at YWCA Canberra.

Catherine MahoneyThis article is part of our member profile series. Our members tell us that one of the things they really love about being part of our community, is getting to know like-minded women. So, each month, we’ll feature an interview with a member, so you can get to know each other a little better. Today, meet Catherine Mahoney, who is part of our Membership Committee!

What was your highlight of the past year? 

Each year I look forward to planning a trip overseas because I am a curious person and I love to learn and have new experiences. I think my 2015 highlight is yet to come – five weeks in Europe later this year, including a cruise along the Adriatic Coast and two weeks immersing myself in the delights of Istanbul.

What’s an achievement you’re proud of?

Only recently did I learn the power of having the courage and tenacity to ask. After attending the Y’s Women Out Front [now known as She Leads Workshops] series of board preparation events last year, I wanted to explore the possibility of becoming a board member. Just a little one. For an organisation I believed in. But my initial attempts were not successful and I didn’t know what else to do.

I figured there must have been some merit in the oft-bandied phrase “fortune favours the brave” so I worked up the courage to approach someone and ask for their support in pitching to their board that there was value in developing a board traineeship program and for me to be their first candidate. To my surprise and complete astonishment, I was encouraged to pursue this further and it is in the final stages of becoming a reality as we speak. I wouldn’t have had the courage to do that before this year, and it made me realise how influential people will invest in those they believe in, when the initial discussion is deliberate, informed, respectful and clearly articulates how both parties will benefit.

So the short answer is I am proud of the fact I found a way to realise a goal I had been seeking in a more creative way than I imagined I was capable of.

What’s on your playlist?

I have often thought I should develop a soundtrack of my life – that could be my goal before Christmas! My playlist fluctuates with my mood. My standby favourite tracks for almost every occasion are by Chaise Lounge, a US group I heard one evening in the John F Kennedy Center in Washington DC; Lucifer’s Lounge, a cover band from Adelaide who I pursued around the pub scene in the early 2000s; and anything Ella Fitzgerald. When I catch the bus to work I need something more upbeat from Katy Perry or David Guetta usually. And SBS Chill as a back up for evenings at home or Indie Radio on Spotify for lazy afternoons in the sun in the backyard.

Why did you join the Y?

Having lived in Canberra for a few years, I was seeking a connection with my community. After looking around at what I might be interested and be able to participate in, I found the Y. The work of the Y is practical and sees real results and I wanted to be part of that international movement at a local level.

Who inspires you?

This is tough, because I am inspired by single acts or thoughts by other people regularly – some who I know personally, some I know of, and then others I simply become aware of.

There are two close friends who never fail to amaze me, and who I find inspirational. Both of them are determined and stubborn (these are traits I admire) and when they focus their minds, there is nothing stopping them. One decided she wanted to walk the Canberra 100 this year, just because she could, and she was dedicated in her training and planning and finished with her team in 26 hours. And still had amazing humour despite her impressive blisters and tired aching body. I couldn’t do that I thought, but she has inspired me to prepare for an overland walk next year (location to be determined). The other manages to fit 30 hours of activities into 24, not just for herself but also her young family, work, study, fitness, friends and some time out for herself. She has boundless energy and an adventurous streak that she hasn’t completely given into and I feel exhausted when I find out how much juggling she does which she doesn’t even realise.

What’s the change you want to see in the world?

I would like others to be more mindful and take a sustainable approach to how we live. I don’t mean this just in terms of the environment and recycling/taking the bus instead of driving/wearing a jumper instead of turning the heater up. I mean economically, which could mean supporting local business and spending wisely, attuned to ever-present consumerism or socially, which can about social inclusion and access to education so that individually and collectively, communities can thrive. All of this is simply underpinned, in my view, by thoughtfulness and compassion, which can make or break a community. I try to practice this mindfulness as much as I can to make conscious decisions and choices about how I live my life.

If you would like to be featured on our blog, contact Zoya Patel at

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