The World YWCA office in Geneva plays many core functions. The office is a supporter, a strategist, a catalyst and an advocate for the YWCA movement. Our focus is to engage young women globally, building transformational leadership capabilities on core issues of advocacy for girls and women’s rights.

Here, we introduce you to the World YWCA team – who they are, what they do, and showcasing their commitment to the cause of young women and womens’ development.

Casey Harden (USA)

General Secretary

Casey joined the YWCA movement 20 years ago as a young woman and is a testament to the YWCA’s mission to create space for young women to be the leaders that they are, and in doing so, define and contribute to gender equality. In many executive and leadership positions, Casey worked in the local and national sphere on issues around health and wellness, gender based violence, economic security, racism and social justice, while growing into a professional of administration, strategy, governance and activism. Casey has shown how to harness a movement that is rich and wide reaching in all of its diversity toward a common goal for collective impact. She joined the World YWCA in 2018 as the Deputy General Secretary and in January 2019 was appointed as the 15th General Secretary. An aspiring astronaut, proud mama, YWCA torch-bearer, passionate about the simple joys of life, Casey believes that young women and girls will lead in realizing the global goal of leaving no one behind.

Read more about her journey

Connect with her on LinkedIn

Follow her on Twitter: @caseyhseabrook

 

Aïda Rehouma (Switzerland and Tunisia)

Lead, Global Programming and Impact

Aïda comes with over 10 years of experience working both in profit and non-profit organisations in service of a more equal, fairer, and sustainable and prosperous future. She joined the World YWCA in 2014 where over the years she has utilized her expertise in strategy and partnership management, general planning and management, and operations and event coordination in multiple roles.

She is passionate about taking impact based programming towards helping the World YWCA and the movement achieve the goals envisioned around the empowerment of women, young women and girls. Prior to World YWCA, Aïda has worked for the World Economic Forum in Geneva, non-profit initiatives in North Africa and Switzerland, as well as in the energy sector in Canada. She carries with her dual educational background in Business Administration and International Relations.

Connect with her on LinkedIn 

 

 

Suchi Gaur, Ph.D (India)

Lead, Global Engagement and Strategic Communications

Suchi carries with her more than nine years of experience working at the confluence of gender, public health and communications technology in the non-profit, startup, parliamentary and research sectors. She joined the World YWCA in 2018, where she is combining her expertise in behavior change, social marketing and community mobilization into her passion and experience around young women and women`s empowerment. She is strategically aligning the engagement process of women and young women into the YWCA system.

Passionate about writing around issues of service delivery and access, advocacy on rights-based policies for women and youth engagement comes naturally to her. She loves to volunteer to train youth and women across the world. A researcher by training, she was awarded a gold medal and the prestigious Fulbright scholarship for her doctoral work in participatory community communications.

Connect with her on LinkedIn

Follow her on Twitter: @sg4devpt

 

Thabani Sibanda (Zimbabwe)

Lead, Strategic Partnerships and Resource Mobilisation

Thabani is a strategic partnerships, resource mobilization and grants management professional with 12 years of experience. With specialized expertise in sourcing funding for different thematic areas such as SRHR, HIV and AIDS, MNCH, women and girls empowerment, she joined the World YWCA in 2018. At World YWCA, she is leading, coordinating or guiding the development of strategic partnerships, mobilizing resources and donor stewardship to enhance the sustainability of the World Office and the movement.

She is keen on linking her expertise in resource mobilization and her commitment to gender equality into generating revenue towards the YWCA Goal 2035 and beyond. She envisions a world where young women have better access to information and reproductive health. She carries with her a MSc. in Strategic Management and in Development Studies.

Connect with her on LinkedIn

Follow her on Twitter: @ThabaniH4 

 

Juli Dugdale (Australia)

Senior Specialist, Young Women’s Leadership and Advocacy

Juli joined the World YWCA in 2009. Over the years she has led the implementation of the World YWCA’s work around young women and girls leadership, ensuring strategic alignment to human rights-based approach in the context of shared, transformative and intergenerational values of the YWCA movement. Before joining the World YWCA, Juli worked in a senior executive position at the Melbourne City Mission in Australia. Over the years she has been a member of many NGO boards, community forums, and government advisory groups. Through her work in Scotland, Juli was key in introducing a code of conduct in working with children and working to advance children’s rights. Earlier in life, she was the first young woman Vice President to be elected at the YWCA of Australia. Her passion for YWCAs at the local, national and global level has made her a true champion of women and young women rights advocacy and leadership.

Connect with her on LinkedIn 

Follow her on Twitter: @julidugdale 

 

Helen Deslarzes (Philippines)

Specialist, Finance and Operations

Originally from Philippines, Helen carries with her over 17 years of experience in finance and accounting. She joined World YWCA in September 2013 working with the finance and operations team. With her expertise in accounting, and her understanding of the development sector, she is working collaboratively around young women`s development and donor management.

Before joining the World YWCA she worked as an accountant for a trust in Geneva providing administrative and related financial management. Thereafter, she moved to a philanthropic office where she developed knowledge in investment accounting and philanthropic activities. She has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Accountancy from St. Louis University (Philippines).

 

 

Daniela Zelaya (Honduras)

Specialist, Young Women Engagement and Mobilisation

Daniela joined the World YWCA, from Honduras, as a young intern in 2016. Currently championing young women engagement at the World YWCA, Daniela has worked across communications and programme roles, leading peace building and young women empowerment and leadership programmes. Before joining the World YWCA, she was a volunteer and board member at the YWCA of Honduras where she worked as a peer educator for social and gender justice, violence against women and girls, and sexual and reproductive health and rights. She has over the years linked her passion and ground knowledge around different thematic areas into young women leadership for development. She carries with her a degree in communications and advertising, with a specialty in administration.

Connect with her on LinkedIn 

Follow her on Twitter: @danizr

 

Caterina Lemp Bitsacopoulos (Chile)

Specialist, Governance and Member Services

Caterina, with more than 15 years of experience in the YWCA movement and system both locally and nationally at Chile and globally at the World YWCA office, is a champion of movement building, organisational development, good practices and accountability. She began her life as a young women volunteer and staff in the Valparaiso, Chile YWCA.

 

Working in World YWCA Office since 2007, she has been supporting member associations and governance work, streamlining her work with the larger goals of gender equality, ensuring women and young women are supported and empowered for sustaining the YWCA movement. Fluent in Spanish, French and English, Cate has utilized her educational background of journalism to strengthen her linkages with the global member association movement.

Follow her on Twitter: @CaterinaLemp

 

Victoria Genecand (Brazil)

Finance and Operations Associate

Victoria joined the World YWCA in 2018 with her understanding of finance and accounting. She applies her experience in a start-up based environment from her education in USA on business and entrepreneurship. She moved to Switzerland in 2015, learned French and now considers the chocolate country her new home. She enjoys reading, is a fitness geek and a total foodie.

The causes of stopping Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), human trafficking and forced child marriage are close to her heart. She has with her a Bachelor’s degree in Economics.

 

 

Ceylan Tokgoz (Switzerland and Turkey)

Global Programming and Impact Associate

Ceylan joined the World YWCA in 2018 with more than five years of experience of working with multiple stakeholders through her work in administration and executive assistance earlier. Born in Switzerland to a Zimbabwean mother and a Turkish father, Ceylan has embraced different cultures, communities and nationalities in its truest sense. At the World YWCA, Ceylan plans to utilize her passion for development projects and young women engagement into implementing effective programmes.

She holds with her a Master’s degree in political and cultural geography from the University of Geneva. A vegan by choice, she is extremely passionate about animal rights and environment. She is currently completing a Diploma of Advanced Studies in Project Management, which she plans to utilize in her work for championing the cause of gender equality.

 

Clarissa Balan (Philippines)

World Council Coordinator

With thirty years of experience in advocacy, leadership development and event organization, Clarissa Balan has had experience of working with the World YWCA since 2001. She first joined the World YWCA as Programme Director for Asia and the Pacific. She coordinated two World YWCA International Women’s Summits, an experience that contributed for her to discover her passion for organizing events. In 2019, she has joined the team again as the World Council Coordinator. Through this role, she is keen on strengthening the intrinsic value in bringing people together. She believes in power and magic in the energy of people and is looking forward to harness it through effective leadership aimed at change for good.

Follow her on Twitter: @clarissa_illume

 

Talisa Avanthay (Switzerland and Ecuador)

Communication Assistant

Talisa joined the World YWCA in 2019 with experience of bringing effective communication systems into the development world. Through her work, she has utilised communications in addressing human rights violations in armed conflicts and internal displacements of refugee women in Colombia. She is keen on enhancing the awareness on effectively utilising communications for better policies for human rights, particularly for less represented communities and minorities. Passionate about defending freedom of speech and information, gender equality and the fight against early and forced child marriage, she is keen to stand up for the rights of young women and girls. She is a part of the Global Engagement and Strategic Communications Team

Follow her on Twitter: @TalisaAvanthay

 

Pauline Westerbarkey (Switzerland and Germany)

Specialist, leadership and advocacy in the Global Programming and Impact

 

Pauline joined the World YWCA in 2019 as the Specialist for leadership and advocacy in the Global Programming and Impact team. With an aim to amplify young women’s leadership and advocate for young women’s human rights, she is keen on utilizing
her expertise in gender, conflict and peacebuilding into action projects around young women. She has studied in multicultural environments of France, the US and Switzerland, and holds a Master in International Affairs. Passionate on peace, sexual reproductive health and rights and mental health, she brings experience working for gender equality and deconstructing gender stereotypes in local, university and international projects. Pauline has in depth understanding of human rights through a number of international opportunities. She is a fan of comparative literature and hiking is one of her favourite outdoor activity.

Connect with her on LinkedIn