WCHM’s Board sets the strategic direction for the organisation and provides policy leadership, financial and legal oversight.

The Board Structure

The WCHM Board comprises ten elected members. At each Annual General Meeting five Board members are elected for two-year terms. Each elected Board member holds office from immediately after the Annual General Meeting at which they are elected until the second Annual General Meeting of WCHM after their election. No members of the Board may retain their position for more than three consecutive terms.

Board Role

Board members serve on a voluntary basis and do not receive remuneration. The Board is required to meet at least six times in each calendar year, but generally meets more often to conduct the business of WCHM. It is responsible for:

  • Setting the policies and strategic directions for the organisation
  • Approving and monitoring the annual budget, and establishing the overall financial delegations
  • Monitoring overall organisational performance
  • Ensuring the organisation meets its regulatory and statutory requirements

Board Committees

The Board sets up committees where necessary to conduct various aspects of organisational operation and management. There are currently three standing Sub-Committees:

  • The Governance Sub-Committee
  • The Finance Sub-Committee
  • The Stakeholder Engagement Sub-Committee.

Board Performance

Board performance is assessed on an annual basis through a Survey of Board members about the Board’s effectiveness.

Board Training

New Board members receive an induction and a comprehensive series of fact sheets, and also access to a Board members secure page on the WCHM website to access all the main WCHM documents.

Current Members

Farzana Choudhury —Chair

Farzana is the Program Manager and Solicitor of Street Law, a program of Canberra Community Law (CCL) that provides free legal assistance to people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. She has previous government legal experience, including at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science where she provided in-house legal advice on a range of commercial and administrative law matters, and at the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department where she contributed to policy and legislative reform relating to a national domestic violence orders scheme.  Farzana has been the Co-Convenor of the National Association of Community Legal Centres Human Rights Network since 2016, and is a member of the ACT Law Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.    She was admitted to legal practice in 2013 and holds a Bachelor of Laws/Arts and a Master of Laws.

She is passionate about women’s human rights issues, including the right to health and reproductive rights, and has a particular interest in addressing violence against women and homelessness. She has a keen interest in supporting women’s organisations, and previously held various Board positions, including Chair of a small not for profit organisation in the women’s sector.

Farzana has been a WCHM Board member since January 2017, and WCHM Board Chair since October 2018.  As a Board member, Farzana has thoroughly appreciated the opportunity to support and contribute to WCHM’s activities, and offer her perspectives as a young woman from a culturally and linguistically diverse background.  She has been able to draw on her governance and legal background as well as her passion for supporting the community sector in this role, and hopes to continue doing so.

Karen Redshaw —Deputy Chair

Karen has extensive experience with over 25 years working in the government and private sectors, particularly with SMEs. Karen is a passionate advocate of systems and design thinking and approaching complex problems from a multi-disciplinary approach. Innovation, Quality and Operational Excellence are cornerstones of all the projects Karen engages with.  Karen is particularly interested in the role that the NFP sector plays in community health in both metropolitan and regional settings. After recently retiring from the APS she now has more time to commit to issues that she considers important, including women’s health, Indigenous Health and poverty, as well as the Disability sector. As a co-Founder of Design 4 Growth her company has been established with a specific focus on community engagement and contribution. She has been involved with a number of Boards, Advisory Committees and Management Committees over the years, and more recently has had responsibility for appointments to, managing, and engaging with a number of Government Boards/Committees.

Jo Schumann – Treasurer

Jo is a recently retired public servant who has worked in Human Resources, Finance, Information Technology, Communications, and Legal for over thirty years. Her role has included managing the Finance areas for four agencies. She is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has undertaken their general course plus their governance course for not for profit agencies. Jo has been involved in a community based board before for Toora Women’s Shelter. She was a member of their Board for three years and Chair for one year. Jo was also involved in the group that was responsible for successfully lobbying for Canberra’s first birth centre. Jo has always been passionate about women’s issues and in her last three agencies was the executive responsible for gender issues.

Gaylene Coulton – Member

As Chief Executive of Capital Health Network (ACT PHN), Gaylene leads the regional primary healthcare organisation whose role is to advance the way health care is delivered to Canberra. Her career has always been focused on developing better health outcomes for consumers, from early days as a community palliative care nurse, through workforce education then management of community, aged care and social care services. Within her current role, Gaylene is exploring how health services can be better integrated to support the work of others sectors, in particular around family and domestic violence and preventative health.

Gaylene has been a member of the AICD since 2007 and is a graduate of the Company Directors Course having been awarded a National Scholarship for “Women on Boards” in 2012. She has held various directorships, board committee memberships and Company Secretary roles since 2005 and brings a wealth of experience from the not-for-profit and the health sector as well as membership based organisations.

Gaylene currently is a member on the Australian Hospitals and Healthcare Association (AHHA) and Hepatitis ACT Boards. She also sits on the AHHA Audit and Risk Committee, Chairs the PHC Investment Committee, and is Treasurer for Hepatitis ACT.

Renee Dockrill —Member

Renee was born and grew up in Canberra, and after several years travelling and living in Sydney, has returned to Canberra where she is raising her young family with her husband. She has spent over 15 years working at a big 4 accountancy / consulting firm, and during this time gained a range of valuable skills that she would like to put towards the benefit of the broader community, and in particular women within the ACT.  During this time she worked with a range of not-for-profit organisations which has given her an appreciation of the important contribution that the not-for-profit sector makes, and the importance of sound governance, controls and Board arrangements. She values the opportunity to contribute to the Women’s Centre for Health Matters as improving the situation for women is of great importance to her in particular making a difference to maternal health care, and also the increasing prevalence of domestic violence and mental health are of great concern to her. She has a Bachelor Science (Psychology); Bachelor Commerce (Accounting and Management); and Masters of Commerce (Organisation and Management) .

Cassandra Gandolfo —Member

Cassandra has a strong background in stakeholder engagement, strategy, governance and policy across a range of sectors in both government and industry. Her work is underpinned by work across a number of roles in Australia and internationally, within varied industries including health, community services, employment and education across the public and not for profit sectors. She has worked for organisations including the Royal Women’s Hospital Melbourne, World Health Organisation, Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council, ACT Health, and the Department of Health. Cassandra is currently a Manager at EY where she provides strategic and practical insights in relation to policy and program design to government clients. Cassandra has previously supported the Women’s Centre for Health Matters and the Domestic Violence Crisis Service as part of the Beyond Crisis initiative. Cassandra has a history of high achievements, she has recently been selected a Women for Change mentor with Dr Kakenya Ntaiya’s organisation, Kakenya’s Dream, and was elected as a Member of the Future Health Leaders Council in 2014 and was an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development in 2010. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the ANU where she is currently also completing a Master of Public Policy (Social Policy).

Melissa Hobbs – Member

Melissa is passionate about women’s health and wellbeing. She has worked in the health sector for over twenty years and has undertaken research in women’s health, most notably her PhD study, where she undertook a national survey of women in relation to unintended pregnancy and their knowledge, attitudes and experiences with regard to emergency contraception. Melissa has also obtained a Master of Public Health, having undertaken a research project on cervical cancer screening in general practice. The aim of this research was to enhance the skills and communication practices of general practitioners in relation to cervical cancer screening.

Melissa is currently employed by The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre as a Research Fellow, located in the Population Health and Sport Division at the Commonwealth Department of Health. Her work focuses on the role of Primary Health Networks in the prevention of the most modifiable risk factors for chronic disease, namely poor diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, harmful alcohol consumption and obesity.

Previously, Melissa was with the ACT Primary Health Network (Capital Health Network) as a population health planning manager. In this role she engaged extensively with community organisations with the aim of understanding the health and social care needs of the ACT population, particularly the most vulnerable populations in the ACT. Domestic and family violence was a highlighted issue as was homelessness and other social determinants of health impacting on women’s health.

Over the past year, Melissa has been a Council member at the community-based not for profit organisation, Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT).

Nicole Mitchell – Member

Nicole is currently the Research Manager at the Department of Sports Medicine at the Australian Institute of Sport. Nicole has a PhD in medical science and has worked in a variety of roles related to management of medical and health research, including as a research consultant at the Australian Sports Commission and a senior project officer at the National Health and Medical Research Council. In her current role she is responsible for forging collaborative partnerships between her team and members of the university sector to answer health research questions. Currently, she lead projects examining genetics and exercise, sports integrity (anti-doping) and musculoskeletal injuries and contribute to the wider strategic goals of the organisation in setting research and integrity agendas. Nicole is a mother of two young daughters and in recent years has had firsthand experience accessing a range of women’s health services in the region. She is deeply passionate about women’s health, the promotion of health and the inclusion of women in positions of leadership in the community. Nicole works with a great sense of integrity and accountability, leading with awareness and empathy.

Lori Rubenstein – Member

After spending a decade in academia, Lori has worked in senior management positions in government, the private and voluntary sectors in the US, Singapore and Australia. Over more than three decades, this involved policy and strategic advice, social research and evaluation of policies and programs in areas as diverse as education, employment, health/mental health, housing, early intervention, juvenile justice, disability services and family policy. Lori has always had a passion for social justice and women’s rights, in particular. in the 1980’s, while working for the Mayor of Seattle in the Office of Women’s Rights, Lori helped found and raise money for the first domestic violence and sexual assault programs. At the same time, she was Board President of the only Women’s Health Center in the city. In the mid 1980s, she moved to Pennsylvania and helped found Women’s Agenda, an organisation committed to improving the lives of women and children experiencing significant disadvantage. In addition to fighting for the right to choose, Women’s Agenda mobilised thousands of women to voice their concerns to Ministers and senior bureaucrats, using an annual Women’s and Children’s Budget that secured $100 million new dollars over four years. A move to Washington, DC allowed Lori to work with a think tank on women’s economic justice issues and to head a social justice philanthropy that supported grassroots initiatives to improve the lives of low-income Americans. Moving to Australia provided more opportunities to work in health and human services on a huge range of issues as a policy advisor, researcher, educator and evaluator in public and private sector positions — women’s health, early childhood development, domestic violence, child abuse,adolescent pregnancy prevention and whole-of-government initiatives to improve the lives of disadvantaged women and children. Currently, her work is focused primarily on the early years; that is, developing ways to support families, parents and caregivers to give babies the best start in life. Lori is also passionate about community involvement in all aspects of public decision making, collective impact as a strategy for engaging communities, governments and service providers to co-design policies and programs that will benefit the least advantaged. To support this work, Lori conducts developmental, formative and summative evaluations, focusing on strategic learning and the impact of public investment on improving outcomes for individuals, families and communities.


Vale Jackie Fairweather

WCHM remembers elite triathlete and marathon runner, Jackie Fairweather.

Jackie was also a Board Member for WCHM from 2010 to 2013, and made a very strong contribution to the Board and the Centre, with her knowledgeable and insightful contributions, and her skills in relation to governance, finance and human resource matters. She participated actively in all Board and Sub-Committee meetings and we valued highly her contributions in our strategic planning sessions. The Board recalls that one year, after participating in an all-day strategic planning discussion, she left late to accompany her husband that evening in a 100 km overnight track run.

We remember and miss her.