Meet a member – Rebecca Vassarotti

14 November 2017

Eliza Hughes

Eliza is the Communications and Marketing Officer at YWCA Canberra

This article is part of our member profile series. Our members tell us that one of the things they 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 Rebecca Vassarotti.

You in a nutshell?

Always hard to describe who you are in a few sentences. I am a born and bred Canberran who is passionate about this beautiful city. I am a mum of three beautiful kids and love working in the community sector. These days I work independently, supporting local and national organisations in the local and national community and health sectors, sit as a member of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, and I am involved in quite a number of community organisations, including as co-chair of the Canberra Gambling Reform Alliance.

While I love this city, it distresses me greatly that many people miss out on the things that this place offers due to marginalisation, discrimination and disadvantage. I deeply believe people can make a difference and know that young people, particularly young women hold the key to dealing with some of our global challenges. This has driven where I have focused my work efforts and what gets me really excited.

What’s on your playlist?

My playlist is generally controlled by my three children. Currently we are listening to a lot of Macklemore – particularly Glorious and Same Love. I love Australian female artists and my favourite song at the moment is Alex the Astronaut’s cover of Paul Kelly’s If I could start today again.

What are you reading at the moment?

I have just started reading this year’s Man Booker price winner Lincoln in the Bardo and very excited to begin this book. My reading list has been a bit lean in recent months but I have been rediscovering Margaret Attwood’s catalogue after being mesmerised by the TV adaption of the Handmaid’s Tale. While I read it a little while ago, the one book that I tell everyone they must read is A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. While difficult and incredibly sad, it is one of the most extraordinary books I have ever read.

What was your highlight of the past year?

I have had some incredible experiences over the past year and feel incredibly lucky that I get to meet incredible people wherever I go. I have to say the highlight was probably a couple of weeks when I attended YWCA Canberra’s AGM and was honoured to be made a life member! When I joined the YWCA in 2003 I was always in awe of our amazing life members and the enduring commitment they made to the movement over many years. Many of them have become wise mentors and dear friends and it is pretty special to be in the company of these giants.

Who is your feminist hero? Who inspires you?

Like many of us, my Mum was my first feminist hero. It was my Mum who taught me the importance of believing in myself, the power of relationships and that leadership needs to come with generosity and grace. Even though she passed away four years ago, I draw strength from her every day and thank her for the foundations she gave me.

What’s an achievement you’re proud of?

I have had so many amazing opportunities. Some opportunities that were rather life changing were contributing as a member of the Australian Government delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women in 2013, fighting against the very worst of the proposed 2014 budget measures when I was working at the Australian Council of Social Service, and running as an ACT Greens candidate in the last Territory election in 2016. All these were challenging, pretty scary but through them I learnt that if you care you should stand up, get involved and fight for what you think is right. These experiences have taught me to surround yourself with people who share your conviction, are honest and will work with you to see change in the world.

Why did you join the Y?

I was incredibly lucky to be selected by the YWCA Canberra board to become the Executive Director as a young woman way back in 2003. This was the Board absolutely living their vision of ‘supporting women achieving their potential’ and believing in me. Over the subsequent ten years I had one of the best jobs in the world – working to support our local community and connecting with a global community of women. Since I left as the Executive Director, I have been involved as a volunteer – primarily focused on supporting our YWCA sisters in the Pacific. One of the things that I love about the YWCA is there is always a different way to contribute and support each other through this amazing global movement.

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

I would love to see a world in which every one of us could reach our potential. I would like to see more love and kindness. When you look at the challenges the world faces, it always strikes me that if we just showed a little understanding and compassion towards each other, solutions might seem more possible. I wish we would care for our planet more and recognise the difference we can all more make through small actions and acts of kindness.

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