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World Office Staff

There are currently 16 staff members representing different nationalities based at the World YWCA headquarters and supporting YWCA work around the world. All staff can be reached at .

General Secretariat

General Secretary - Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, General Secretary, World YWCA

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 in Eastern and Horn of Africa covering 13 countries. She had previously worked as a human rights officer with UNICEF in Liberia and Zimbabwe. She is a trained human rights lawyer with extensive experience in conflict resolution and mediation. Under her leadership, the World YWCA has worked on strengthening the analysis on the linkages between women’s rights, violence against women, sexual and reproductive health and HIV for effective interventions, programmes and services. Gumbonzvanda has also raised the voice of grassroots women and girls, advocating on their behalf for the implementation of key global commitments on women, young women and girls’ rights through CEDAW mechanisms, the Commission on the Status of Women, the Human Rights Council and the International Conference on Population and Development, engaging the movement and partners in these processes.

Gumbonzvanda serves on various boards of development organisations including Action Aid International, CIVICUS and Save the Children UK and the steering committees for Girls Not Brides and Women's Day Live. Gumbonzvanda is also on the High Level Group on HIV Prevention and Sexual Health for Young People in Eastern and Southern Africa, advisor to the Dutch Government in the planning of the Human Rights Thematic Forum for ICPD+20 and chairs the NGO Committee on the Status of Women in Geneva. In May 2014 Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda was named Goodwill Ambassador of the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage, further consolidating the World YWCA’s important work on ending child, early and forced marriage in a single generation.

Executive Coordinator – Melodie Schläpfer 

Melodie Schläpfer from France studied History and holds a Master degree in European Studies from the European Institute of Geneva, Switzerland. Fluent in English and French with knowledge of German, Melodie matches 4 years within the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights along with her experience within Civil Society on the field before joining the World Office in September, 2014.


Head of Programmes - Rita Muyambo

Rita Muyambo from Zimbabwe, holds a BsC in Psychology and a Master’s in Business Leadership from the University of Zimbabwe and South Africa respectively. Rita has more than 17 years experience working with Civil Society Organisations and NGOs in the area of HIV/AIDS in communities, with a focus on country programme development, design, implementation, coordination, community systems strengthening, and management of health related projects in Southern Africa.  This includes facilitating linkages with other organisations, assisting in resource mobilisation, management of donors and government departments, including fostering public and private partnerships. She has extensive knowledge and experience in managing the development of media campaigns, evidence based research programming, development and implementation of community affordable programmes, sustainability of training programmes, and representation of civil society organisations on different levels before joining the World YWCA in August 2014.  

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 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 - Kathleen Maksymec

Kathleen Maksymec is the Head of Communications for the World YWCA,. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, she has more than 20 years of experience driving communications excellence for some of the world’s leading organisations, including Nestlé Nespresso, HP, MasterCard and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.  Before moving to Switzerland, Kathleen spent several years as the main spokesperson and expert in community relations and shareholder communications for TELUS, a major Canadian telecommunications company. Kathleen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, a Masters of Business Communications degree and is certified by the International Association of Business Communicators. She is currently a student in  Squared Online, an award-winning digital marketing certification developed with Google.  

Programme Officer Communications – Maja Gosovic 

Maja Gosovic, 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 - Sara Llort

Sara Llort is from France. She joined the World YWCA in April 2015. She graduated from a French Business school (EDHEC- Master Degree) and obtained also qualifications in Accounting, Finance and Management (French Diploma DECF and DSCG in progress). She has over 12 years’ experience in financial audit with EY where she worked on middle market companies’ audit. During these years Sara also actively worked in the Learning and Development department of EY as reviewer of contents and facilitators of training over EMEA. Since Sara is passionate about Women career and Women leadership, she also contributed to internal projects on Women Career development at EY. 

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 – Helen Deslarzes

Helen holds a BS in Accountancy from Saint Louis University, Philippines.   She has more than 11 years of experience in Financial, Budgetary, Investment and Trust Accounting. She has worked at Les Bastions Trust Corporation SA, a philanthropic company in Geneva as an Accountant before joining World YWCA and she previously worked as a Trust Accountant in a Fiduciary Company Geneva.  She speaks English, French and Tagalog. 

Operations Officer – Alena Staliarchuk
Alena Staliarchuk from Belarus joined the YWCA in July 2013 as Operations Officer. Alena has over 10 years experience in the area of management, banking and operations in both Belarus and Switzerland. Alena studied Applied Mathematics & Computers as well as Economic Cybernetics at the Belarusian State University in Minsk. She also has a French language Diploma from Geneva University.

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. 

World Council and Systems Coordinator – Aida Rehouma

Aida Rehouma, from Switzerland and Tunisia, holds a master’s degree in Business Administration and International Relations from the University of Geneva, with a focus on strategy and innovation management. Fluent in French, English, Arabic and Italian, Aida has strong interest and knowledge in issues of governance, leadership, sustainability and social justice including the realization of women’s human rights. Before joining the World YWCA in July 2014 as Events Coordinator, Aida held the role of Community Manager for the World Economics’ Forum Network of Global Agenda Councils, facilitating interactions of 1500 experts and coordinating the Summit on the Global Agenda held annually in the United Arab Emirates. Prior to that, she worked in Canada in corporate responsibility research and reporting for EnCana, a leading energy corporation. She also has experience in NGO management through her tenure on the National Executive Board of AIESEC, the world’s largest student-run organisation dedicated to youth leadership development.


The World YWCA offers two long-term internships and four short-term internships every year:  meet the Interns