World Office Staff
There are currently 14 staff members representing 12 different nationalities based at the World YWCA headquarters and supporting YWCA work around the world. All staff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
General Secretary - Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda
Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, from Zimbabwe, joined the World YWCA in 2007. She has over 10 years of experience with the United Nations, where she served as Regional Director for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in Eastern and Horn of Africa covering 13 countries. She had previously worked as a human rights officer with UNICEF in Liberia and Zimbabwe. For the last twenty years, Nyaradzayi has been working on women and children's human rights, with a special focus on crisis countries. She is a trained human rights lawyer with extensive experience in conflict resolution and mediation.
Deputy General Secretary – Focal point for Europe – Michelle Higelin
Michelle Higelin, from Australia, is the Deputy General Secretary of the World YWCA since January 2011. She leads the organisation’s Programme Department as well as relationships with YWCAs in Europe as the regional focal point. She is a former General Secretary of the YWCA of Australia and was the Director of Campaigns and Communications at the World YWCA from 2001 to 2007, where she led the global campaign to establish a USD 25 million endowment fund for the leadership development of women and girls. Michelle sat on various boards, including the Australian Youth Policy and Action Coalition, the National Women's Media Centre and the Women's Electoral Lobby. Prior to her current role, Michelle was the General Manager of the Cranlana Programme, a philanthropic organisation that promotes ethical and responsible leadership among business, government and civil society leaders, and managed a consultancy business focused on NGO strategy and communications. Michelle has a BA in Communications and a Masters in International Relations, as well as post-graduate studies in NGO management.
Executive Coordinator – Ana Villanueva
Ana Villanueva, from Argentina, has over 28 years of extensive work in ecumenism and education with children, youth and adults, especially women. An educator by profession and also a lay preacher, Ana studied Educational Psychology at the University of El Salvador (Buenos Aires) and Theology at ISEDET (Buenos Aires) and Bossey Ecumenical Institute (University of Geneva). Ana co-authored a book on "The Parables of the Kingdom" and has written several articles on secular and Christian education. She also has wide experience in administration through her work of over 20 years in Geneva with the Lutheran World Federation and the World YWCA.
World Council and Systems Coordinator – Fiona Wilkie
Fiona Wilkie, from Scotland, joined the World YWCA in 2001 as Communications Assistant and has since worked as the Systems Coordinator, and as World Council Coordinator for the 2011 World Council held in Zurich, Switzerland. With a degree in Social Psychology and Social Anthropology, and a Masters in Business Administration, Fiona holds a central role in coordinating the systems necessary for the effective functioning of the World YWCA, including ICTs, infrastructure, information and individual donor management. She is also leading the preparations for the World Council 2015 to be held in Bangkok, Thailand.
Programme Officer Grant Management – Focal Point Middle East – Mandy Nogarede
Mandy Nogarede, from Great Britain and Switzerland, holds a Bachelor in English and Philosophy from the University of Manchester. Fluent in English and French, Mandy has been with the World YWCA for over 20 years. Mandy joined the World YWCA as a young woman and over the years she has worked on Refugees, Cooperation for Development and Resource Sharing, Leadership Training and Women and Development. Her main interests are economic justice and the environment. She is now leading the Power to Change Fund and is the focal point for the Middle East.
Global Programme Manager SRHR and HIV and AIDS – Focal Point Africa – Hendrica Okondo
Hendrica Okondo, from Kenya, holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Nairobi, Kenya and a Master of Science from the University of London. She has previously worked as Programme Manager for UNIFEM South Sudan and Country Programme Manager for UNIFEM Tanzania. She has extensive working experience in Women’s Human Rights, especially in the context of HIV and Humanitarian settings.
Global Programme Manager for Violence Against Women – Focal Point for the Caribbean and North America - Marie-Claude Julsaint
Marie-Claude Julsaint, from Haiti, holds a Masters degree in International Relations from the Graduate Institute of International Relations in Geneva, Switzerland, and a Masters degree in Development Studies from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland. Fluent in Haitian Creole, French and English, Marie-Claude has a passion for women’s rights and extensive knowledge in International Human Rights Law. Before taking on the position of Global Programme Manager for Violence Against Women, Marie-Claude held the position of World YWCA Regional Director for the Americas. Prior to that, Marie-Claude worked for Sentinelles, a Swiss NGO, as Programme Officer for the Noma Programme in Burkina Faso and Niger.
Global Programme Manager Women's Leadership and Movement Building – Focal Point Asia/Pacific – Juli Dugdale
Juli Dugdale, from Australia, has extensive experience in working at the grassroot level and for both small and large NGO's. She has qualifications in Community Development, Child Protection from both UK and Australian universities and is presently completing her Masters in International Development. Juli is passionate about young women's leadership and has worked in partnerships and connecting the local voice with the global voice. Before joining the World YWCA, Juli worked in a senior executive leadership position at Melbourne City Mission, and over the years she has been a member of many NGO boards, community forums, government advisory groups. Whilst working in Scotland, Juli was instrumental in introducing a code of conduct in working with children and working to advance children's rights. Juli was elected the first young woman Vice President of the YWCA of Australia and has continued to enjoy her journey with the YWCA at a local, national and now global level.
Programme Officer Membership Support – Focal Point Latin America – Caterina Lemp
Caterina Lemp, from Chile, graduated from the University of Playa Ancha, Valparaíso, Chile, with a degree in Journalism. She has been involved with the YWCA for more than 12 years. Before joining the World YWCA as a one-year intern in 2007, Caterina worked as the Communications Assistant for the YWCA of Chile and coordinator for the YWCA of Chile headquarters in Viña del Mar. From 2008 to March 2011, Caterina worked in the World YWCA Office as Programme Assistant for the Americas, Caribbean, Asia and Pacific. She then became the Programme Officer for Membership Support and Focal Point for Latin America. Caterina is fluent in English, French and Spanish.
Head of Communications – Sylvie Jacquat
Sylvie Jacquat, from Switzerland, holds a Masters Degree in History, Journalism and Social Communications from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. After her studies, she worked as the Communication and Information Officer for the South East Europe regional headquarters of Handicap International, working in countries including Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo. In 2005, Sylvie worked in Sudan for a grassroots non-governmental organisation, Sudan Social Development Organisation (SUDO) where she was involved in their Human Rights programme. In 2006, she worked in Columbia as Communications Officer for Handicap International’s office in Medellin and was in charge of corporate communications as well as public relations for the organisation. Back in Switzerland in 2007, she started working at the World YWCA as Communications Assistant. In 2009 she completed her postgraduate studies in Public Relations at the Swiss Public Relations Institute. In 2010, she was promoted to Head of Communications at the World YWCA.
Programme Officer Communications – Maja Gosovic Rekovic
Maja Gosovic Rekovic, from ex-Yugoslavia, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Masters’ degree in International Relations. Fluent in Serbo-Croatian, English, French and Spanish, Maja has vast international experience. She has worked in Switzerland, Serbia and Cambodia and at the International Labour Organisation in Geneva before joining the YWCA in 2010.
Programme Officer Communications- Marcia Banasko
Marcia Banasko, from the United Kingdom, holds a Degree in International Development and Latin American Studies from the University of Liverpool and a National Diploma in Youth Work and Development from John Moores University. She has been involved with the YWCA for the past 5 years, working as a Project Worker for the YWCA of England and Wales. Marcia has extensive grassroots experience and has worked in Ireland, UK, Turkey and India. She also worked on campaigning and implementing development programmes, and developed a radio talk show. In 2011, Marcia worked as a research officer contributing to a report- Female Voice in Violence which documented and researched how women and girls are affected by gang violence in the UK. This report was presented to the UK government in Parliament. In 2012, Marcia joined the World YWCA Internship Programme as Communications Programme Associate and from January 2013 joined the World YWCA as official staff.
Finance and Operations Department
Head of Finance and Operations - Maria Petty
Maria Petty, from Peru, obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Economics and worked in Lima in economic research before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, USA, in 1994. She earned her MBA from California State University in 1998 and soon after a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license from the State of California. She has worked for 11 years for public accounting firms and multinational corporations in the US. Past employers include Compaq Computers, Baker Hughes, and Applied Materials. Maria held management roles in audit, financial reporting, project management and controlling and has travelled extensively for international assignments. In 2009 she moved to Switzerland to work on the finance integration of a newly acquired Applied Materials Swiss subsidiary. In March 2012 Mariabecame Head of Finance and Operations at the World YWCA, to pursue a new career path where she may combine her skills with her interest in social issues and women's rights.
Personnel Officer- Marie-Antoinette Santschi
Marie-Antoinette Santschi, from Switzerland, has been working at the World YWCA for over 20 years. Fluent in English and French and with a good knowledge of German, Marie-Antoinette has extensive experience in Human Resources and Finance.
Finance officer – Kanini Waita-Rwamushaija
Kanini Waita-Rwamushaija from Kenya, holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) degree from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Kanini is a certified Public Accountant (CPA) and holds an MBA from the University of Leicester, UK. Kanini has over seven years experience in financial advisory, having previously worked as a Tax Consultant at Deloitte and KPMG in East Africa.
The World YWCA offers two long-term internships and four short-term internships every year: meet the Interns