What I learnt as a YWCA Canberra Board Trainee

4 December 2014

Nikki Wright - Board TraineeAt our Annual General Meeting in October, our outgoing Board Trainees spoke about their experiences of the program, and what they have learned. We are sharing their insights here, for you to get a firsthand account of how our Board Traineeships work, and what you can get out of them. Here, Nikki Wright shares the highlights of her experiences.


When I was asked to say a few words this evening reflecting on my time as a Board Trainee over the past 12 months, I jotted down a few points.

When I’d finished, I realised I had about 15 to 20 minutes worth of notes (which, rest assured, I have cut down). However, this is indicative of the very positive experience I have had as a Board Trainee.

Firstly, thank you to the outgoing President Jane Alver, for the work you have done over the past 12 months as President,  but also in the six years with YWCA Canberra, and on a personal note,  for encouraging me to join the Y.

I met Jane, when through work my Director took me to Rebecca Vassarotti’s farewell, whom I had previously only met very briefly.  Jane kindly offered to have a coffee with me at a later date to tell me a little about the Y, and her experiences.

At our subsequent meeting, Jane explained why she had been involved with the Y for the past 20 odd years. I was struck by Jane’s selflessness, generosity and genuine desire to reach out and help those around her, traits I soon learnt, were indicative of many of the individuals I have since met in the Y.

The Traineeship has been an excellent experience and I wish to share a small selection of highlights.

Firstly, during this period I have gained exposure to, and learnt about items such as: Compliance Reports; Investment Policy, complexities around superannuation payments, board protocol, grant funding, and how to read a balance sheet – on that note, I would like to thank Betty Ferguson for her patience, enthusiasm and namely her absolute ‘love of numbers’. You will be sorely missed.

Secondly, prior to joining YWCA Canberra, I had an idea of what the organisation stood for. But over the past 12 months, I have been fortunate to gain a real understanding and insight into the breadth and depth of community programs that the Y has designed, funds and/or implements that fill very real needs within the community. From the Food Hub, to the provision of affordable housing, children’s services and certified training programs to name but a few.

And then of course there are all of the events that are held for members and the fundraising activities.

One that certainly stands out was ‘shaking the tin’ at a Brumbies game in early April – it was cold and raining. It is testament to the work, and the reputation of the Y, the number of people that knew about the YWCA, and the willingness to give.  Noting, whilst it was rather an unpleasant evening weather wise, I think we may have also increased our donations with the sympathy vote. Asking for money with rain running off your poncho – who can say no to that!

Finally, last year Ruth Pitt spoke briefing of the ‘glass ceiling’ and this program – the Board Traineeship – is an excellent opportunity to provide individuals like myself with the skills and confidence to stand-up and be counted, and to hopefully start to increase the number of women on boards in Australia.

To the Board, thank you very much for the opportunity to have been a Board Trainee over the past 12 months. I am very grateful and thankful the experience.

Congratulations to this year’s incoming and continuing board members, and to the board trainees, I wish you all the very best.

About Nikki

Nikki Wright joined YWCA Canberra in 2012. She is an active member of the Y regularly attending events and fundraising activities. Nikki is on the Finance committee, has previously been a Member of the Pacific Working Group and has recently completed the Board Traineeship program in October 2014.

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