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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

Acting General Secretary and Head of Finance and Operations - Sara Llort, France

Sara Llort joined the World YWCA in April 2015. As Acting General Secretary and Head of Finance and Operations, Sara manages the strategic leadership of the organization as well as budgeting, financial statements and operations that allow the organization to work, like IT and HR.

Sara 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 she also contributed to internal projects on Women Career development at EY.

Executive Coordinator – Melodie Schläpfer, France

Melodie Schläpfer joined with World Office in September 2014. As Executive Coordinator, she provides administrative services and supports the General Secretary to ensure the smooth functioning of the General Secretary office. This includes relationship management with different stakeholders within the organisation. Outside representation comprises UN agencies and missions, ecumenical agencies, youth organisations and other civil society partners. Her responsibilities also include Coordination and Public Relations, Information and Documentation, Organisational Planning and Monitoring, and governance support for the GS and the leadership team.

Melodie holds a Master’s degree in European Studies from the European Institute of Geneva, Switzerland. She matches 4 years within the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights along with her experience within Civil Society on the field.


Head of Programmes - Rita Muyambo, Zimbabwe

Rita Muyambo joined the World YWCA in 2014. As Head of Programmes, she is responsible for the coordination and administration of all aspects of the ongoing programme. She manages the daily operations of the Programmes staff to achieve the organisation’s strategic goals and works closely with the General Secretary and leadership team to help manage the organisation and ensure an integrated approach and cross functional work.

Rita 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.  

Global Programme Manager SRHR and HIV – Focal Point Africa – Hendrica Okondo, Kenya

Hendrica Okondo joined the World YWCA in 2010. As Global Programme Manager for SRHR and HIV, she leads and reviews the implementation of the World YWCA Global Strategy for SRHR and HIV, develops and evaluates partner-funded SRHR and HIV programs, and mentors young women leaders to champion SRHR  issues in global and regional policy spaces. This has enabled the World YWCA to fulfil its programme priority of building young women’s leadership to champion and claim their SRHR in the context of the HIV response.

Hendrica holds a Bachelor’s in Agricultural Sciences and Entomology from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and a Master’s in Public Health and Environmental 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 – Focal Point Asia/Pacific – Juli Dugdale, Australia  

Juli Dugdale joined the World YWCA in 2009.  As Global Programme Manager for Women’s Leadership and Focal Point Asia and Pacific, she leads on the implementation of the World YWCA strategic priority  of ensuring the full implementation of a human rights-based approach to young women’s and girl’s leadership in the context of shared, transformed and intergenerational leadership.

Juli Dugdale has extensive experience in working at community and national  levels and for both small,  large NGO's and in cross Sector partnerships with the private and public sectors . She has qualifications in Community Development from MIT, Melbourne Australia, Child Protection professional studies Nottingham University and is presently studying for her Masters in International Development at RMIT, Melbourne Australia.  Before joining the World YWCA, Juli worked in a senior executive leadership position at Melbourne City Mission and was elected the first young woman Vice President of the YWCA of Australia. She has continued to enjoy her journey with the YWCA at a local, national and now global level. Juli is passionate about supporting young women’s leadership, creating a respectful culture of shared and intergenerational transformative leadership to mobilise and strength social movements.  

Programme Officer Membership Support – Focal Point Latin America – Caterina Lemp, Chile

Caterina Lemp became the Programme Officer for Membership Support and Focal Point for Latin America in 2011. Her work includes coordinating members globally and maintaining communications for projects such as international meetings and events. This membership support role sees that the World YWCA movement effectively fulfils its purpose to develop the leadership of women and girls by functioning at the highest levels of organisational accountability.

She 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. From 2008 to March 2011, Caterina worked in the World YWCA Office as Programme Assistant for the Americas, Caribbean, Asia and Pacific. 

Programme Officer - Gladys Yegon, Kenya

Gladys Yegon joined the World YWCA in July 2014 as Programme Officer with a focus on enabling economic empowerment using ICT. She coordinates grant activities to make sure the eligible countries are using ICT. Economic empowerment is at the heart of women realizing all of their other rights because they do not have to be dependent on someone else and can make choices favorable to them.

Before moving to Geneva, Gladys practiced law in Kenya for six years, primarily at Simba and Simba advocates. She earned her Bachelor’s and Post-Graduate in Law from Moi University. She specialized in criminal, commercial, intellectual property, and human right law. This legal background on the enforcement of rights directly complimented working with communities and associations in creating an enabling environment where rights can be realized, implemented, and enforced. 

Programme Officer - Linnea Hakansson, Sweden

Linnea began working at the World YWCA in November 2014. As Programme officer,  Linnea's main responsibilities include coordinating the organisation's engagement at the Human Rights Council, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and CEDAW. She was also heavily involved with the Envisioning2035 process leading up to World Council in 2015 and has worked with resource mobilisation in the field of sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Her work on these programmes has helped the YWCA move toward its goal of international women’s empowerment

Linnea is a human rights lawyer who holds law degrees with distinction from Uppsala University and University College London. She was awarded for writing the best Master of Laws Thesis in 2012. She has studied at the University of Toronto, the Hague Academy of International Law, and the Graduate Institute of International and Development studies in Geneva. She worked with EU Affairs for the Swedish Ministry of Justice and with the World Trade Organisation in Geneva. She is a trained representative in English social security law for low-income clients and undertook pro bono work with family law disputes at the Ontario Court of Justice. Her professional passions lie in enabling youth and women to participate meaningfully in society and in enabling inter-cultural as well as inter-faith dialogues. 


Head of Communications - Kathleen Maksymec, Canada

Kathleen Maksymec has been the Head of Communications for the World YWCA since 2015. She is responsible for planning and managing the overall communications and public relations strategy for the World YWCA. This includes all internal and external communications, branding, media relations, and advocacy.

She has more than 20 years of communications experience with global organisations including Nestlé Nespresso, HP, MasterCard and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Kathleen was also the main spokesperson and expert in community relations and shareholder communications for TELUS, a major Canadian telecommunications company. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, a Master’s in Business Communications and a certification from the International Association of Business Communicators from the University of St. Thomas in the United States. 

Programme Officer Communications and Advocacy - Marcia Banasko, United Kingdom

Marcia Banasko joined the World YWCA Internship Programme as Communications Programme Associate in 2012 and joined the World YWCA as official staff in January 2013. Her role contributes to maintaining membership and strategic communications by raising the visibility of the organisation. This includes managing social media, developing campaigns, providing strategic research on women’s rights, and reporting on national, regional and global events.

She 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 was previously Project Worker for the YWCA of England and Wales. In 2011, Marcia worked as a research officer contributing to the report “Female Voice in Violence,” which documented how women and girls are affected by gang violence in the UK. This report was presented to the UK government in Parliament.

Communications Officer - Lina Borén, Sweden

Lina Borén has been a Communications Officer since 2016. Her role includes strengthening the World YWCA’s digital engagement, branding as well as internal and external communications.

Lina has 10 years of experience within international organisations and previously worked at the United Nations and the World Economic Forum, where she developed a new digital platform for member collaboration and managed several global agenda councils. She has a Masters in Political Science from Jönköping International Business School in Sweden and she also studied at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. 

Finance and Operations Department

Head of Finance and Operations and Acting General Secretary - Sara Llort, France

Sara Llort joined the World YWCA in April 2015. As Head of Finance and Operations and Acting General Secretary, Sara manages the strategic leadership of the organization as well as budgeting, financial statements and operations that allow the organization to work, like IT and HR.

Sara 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 she also contributed to internal projects on Women Career development at EY.

Personnel Officer- Marie-Antoinette Santschi, Switzerland

Marie-Antoinette Santschi has been working at the World YWCA for since 1987 when she joined as Finance Assistant. She became HR Assistant in 1995 and was later promoted to Personnel Officer. She now serves as Personnel Officer, where she works with staff salaries, contracts, insurances, expenses. She is also very familiar with Swiss laws and regulations, which can be very helpful to staff and new staff coming from foreign countries.

Marie-Antoinette has extensive experience in Human Resources and Finance, having worked in related positions at the World YWCA since the beginning of her career. Her experience with the World YWCA benefited her in her position as president of a regional wheelchair club where she has been able to help allocate funds for sports and organized competitions for over 20 years.

Finance Officer – Helen Deslarzes, Philippines

Helen Deslarzes has been with the World YWCA since 2013. As Finance Officer, She helps maintain the organization’s budgeting, financial management and financial systems and internal controls, which includes annual budgeting, accounting, reporting and audit , treasury and investment management. Her work contributes to financially sustaining the YWCA movement, sound financial accounting, budgeting and reporting systems.

Helen holds a BS in Accountancy from Saint Louis University, Philippines, and has more than 14 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. She also previously worked as a Trust Accountant in a Fiduciary Company Geneva.  

Finance Assistant - Thao Huynh, France and Vietnam

Thao Huynh joined the World YWCA in December 2014 in the newly-created Finance Assistant position. She is in charge of booking and accounting and assists with everything finance related with a focus on affiliation fees from member associations. Her role helps financially sustain the movement by tracking expenditures.

Before coming to the YWCA, Thao worked for as an external auditor at EY for two years. She also holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Geneva. 

Operations Officer – Alena Staliarchuk, Belarus

Alena Staliarchuk joined the YWCA in July 2013 as Operations Officer. She is the focal point for IT and fixes the day-to-day issues with the world office’s computers and networks. She also manages the facilities and the contract with suppliers. Without her technical work, the office would not run smoothly.

Alena has over 10 years experience in the area of management, banking and operations in both Belarus and Switzerland. Alena has a Bachelor’s in Applied Mathematics & Computers as well as a diploma in Economic Cybernetics from the Belarusian State University in Minsk. When she started working with the World YWCA, she also did payments with the Finance team. 

Programme Officer Grant Management – Focal Point Middle East – Mandy Nogarede, United Kingdom and Switzerland

Mandy Nogarede is the Programme Officer for Grant Management and is the focal point for the Middle East. She is now leading the Power to Change Fund, a YWCA grant program that invests in the leadership development of women and girls to advance social change around the world.

Mandy has been with the World YWCA for over 20 years. She joined as a young woman and has worked on Refugees, Cooperation for Development and Resource Sharing, Leadership Training and Women and Development. She holds a Bachelor’s in English and Philosophy from the University of Manchester, and her main interests are economic justice and the environment. 

Events and Projects Coordinator – Aida Rehouma, Switzerland and Tunisia

Aida Rehouma joined the World YWCA in July 2014 as Events and Projects Coordinator. She oversees the planning and organisation of events and cross-cutting projects at global and regional level. Through the Events and Projects function, she designs, implements processes and controls, and works on methodologies and planning to bring sustainability and innovation to the area of Events and Projects management.  

Aida previously held the role of Community Manager for the World Economics’ Forum Network of Global Agenda Councils, coordinating the Summit on the Global Agenda held annually in the United Arab Emirates. She has experience in NGO management through her tenure on the National Executive Board of AIESEC. She holds a master’s degree in Business Administration and International Relations from the University of Geneva, with a focus on strategy and innovation management.

Events & Operations Officer - Caroline von Kimakowitz Vieira, Brazil

Caroline joined the World YWCA in February 2015.OAs Events and Operations Officer, she organises and delivers events for the World YWCA, assists the finance and operations department on specific tasks, and maintains processes in relation to logistics, operations, finances and management of events. Her work helps keep the YWCA movement active and connected.  

After doing an Executive MBA focusing on the management of International Organizations at the University of Geneva Caroline served as Partnership Officer at Gmedia Center, a Geneva-based NGO working for Human Rights for media; and Human Rights Associate at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, working closely with the Special Rapporteur of Internally Displaced Persons. Prior to that she worked mainly with the United Nations on trade promotion for a large number of developing countries. Caroline also holds two degrees of International Relations and Negotiations Strategies from the Brazilian universities, Estácio de Sá and Candido Mendes.


Program Associate - Sophia Pierre-Antoine, Haiti

Sophia Pierre-Antoine is a one-year Program Associate with a thematic focus on Sexual and Reproductive Health & Rights (SRHR), Maternal Health, as well as preventing and eliminating Child, Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM).  She conducts advocacy and program management across all thematic areas with particular emphasis on the Caribbean, Latin American and African regions.

Before joining the World Office Team, Sophia ran the Youth Center of the YWCA Haiti. The YC strives to empower and develop the self-esteem, leadership and capacity of girls and adolescent girls while following a Safe Space model. Sophia holds a Women and Gender Studies degree and a Sociology degree from SUNY Stony Brook University, NY (USA). While at University she was the President of the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance where she worked on various campaigns to bring forward the systematic struggles of marginalized women.


Program Associate - Vanessa Anyoti, Tanzania

Vanessa Anyoti is a one-year Program Associate with a focus on Young Women’s Leadership and human rights. Her work will help lay a foundation for the Young Women’s Leadership Institute.

Vanessa has been involved with the YWCA for 3 years, volunteering and working as a Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)/HIV and Gender-Based Violence program coordinator at the YWCA Tanzania. Before working with the YWCA, Vanessa earned a Masters in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from Cyprus International Institute in association with Harvard School of Public Health, as well as a Bachelors in Biology with a human concentration and minor in Political Science from Geneva College, Pennsylvania, United States. She was also named as a World Economic Forum Dar es Salaam Global Shaper.


Communications Associate - Daniela Zelaya, Honduras

Daniela Zelaya is a one-year Communications Associate. She has worked on the social media toolkit for the 60th Commission on the Status of Women, written for the World YWCA’s Annual Report, created images for the Youth Forum, and updated the e-bulletin in Spanish and English.

Her work helps to form a better image and foster better communication for the organization.

Daniela has been working in communications since she was 17, when she started working at a Honduran advertising agency. After receiving a Bachelor’s in Communications and Advertising with a specialty in Business Administration from UNITEC, she worked as a communications and advertising officer at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tegucigalpa. She became the younger manager the Chamber of Commerce had in 125 years. She has been involved with the YWCA since 2013, when she joined as a PR and communications volunteer.