WJN Management Committee (The Board)

WJN is governed and overseen by a Management Committee (The Board), comprising of some very versatile women.

Natasha Thompson (President) was appointed President in January 2018 and works tirelessly to ensure WJN delivers effective programs with measurable impacts. Natasha is a passionate advocate for the empowerment of all women and strives to improve the lives of at risk women and girls every day. Her focus is on ensuring WJN can continue to grow and reach more women and female youth affected by the criminal justice system. As a General Manager at Barnardos Australia, Natasha brings significant experience in driving positive change for vulnerable, young Australians to WJN. She has also worked as a senior executive across the corporate and not-for-profit sectors with executive level experience in finance, strategy, governance and stakeholder management.

Nicki Petrou (Vice President) is a co-founding member of WJN, and has worked to ensure WJN’s growth and sustainability since the beginning. Nicki is passionate about social justice issues, especially those affecting women and children, with a particular focus on prisoner issues, early intervention, prevention, and diversionary youth programs. As the Principal solicitor of a Community Legal Centre in Darwin, and from her close work with the community, government and private sectors, Nicki brings invaluable experience to WJN.

Dr Helen Dunstan (Secretary) became a volunteer with Prison Fellowship after a life-changing experience in 2006. She completed the WJN Mentor training in 2013 and has been a committed WJN mentor since. Helen is also part of the network of supporters of an Aboriginal community organisation. She is especially interested in walking alongside Aboriginal women who have lived experience of incarceration.

Victoria Keesing is an expert in management, workplace culture and business strategy and brings a wealth of experience to WJN. She is strong believer in social justice and plays an active role in her community. As a Management Consultant with her own business, Victoria advises clients on culture, organisation design and the ‘people’ aspects of major strategy and transformation programs. She was previously a partner with PwC Australia, and has also held a number of executive leadership positions in large corporate organisations. Victoria commenced on WJN’s Board in late 2012.

Dr Linda Steele is a Senior Lecturer in law at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and has been with WJN since 2008.  Linda works to ensure the voices of the women who we walk beside are heard, and are at the forefront of WJN’s campaigning and advocacy efforts. Linda’s academic and legal skills have been instrumental in WJN’s advocacy and policy work, and has provided vital insights into the cognitive and mental health issues of women affected by the criminal justice system.

Ashleigh Thomson is an occupational therapist and manages an Assertive Outreach Mental Health Team for adults with complex needs. She has previously worked with female youth in custody and continues to support people impacted by the justice system within her current role.
Since 2014 Ashleigh was both a volunteer WJN Mentor, member and then was nominated and elected to the WJN Board in 2015. Ashleigh’s passion for justice and human rights stems from her extensive employment history relating to mental health and juvenile justice, combined with a continual commitment to the empowerment of marginalised groups within our community.

Dr Lara Palombo joined the Board in 2015 and has been a member since 2014. She has been a volunteer and member of a number of women’s organisations in NSW and South Australia.
Lara’s social activism and research interests are focused on questions of race, gender and the impact of the criminal justice system on migrant women.

Kathryn Barnes is an experienced and energetic lawyer and Senior Strategic and Policy Advisor. She is passionate about finding meaningful, systemic approaches to achieving equality and social justice, with a particular focus on improving the social and economic security of women. Kathryn has extensive experience in criminal justice, civil litigation, regulation, reform and higher education and has worked for a broad range of federal and state government departments, agencies and inquiries.Kathryn’s academic thesis examined the efficacy of government policy and legislation proposed to reduce rates of recidivism amongst serious offenders and protect vulnerable people.

She has contributed to a number of Royal Commission Reports, including the design of a $4 billion redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse and has contributed to criminal justice reform initiatives.

Management

Catherine Brennan is WJN’s Chief Executive Officer and is responsible for leading a team of staff and mentors, to advance the prospects and wellbeing of women and female youth affected by the criminal justice system. Catherine currently holds the position of President at Caretakers Cottage youth homeless service in the eastern suburbs of Sydney and has worked in both the corporate and NGO sectors. With a first-hand understanding of the trauma and complexities faced by women and girls that come into contact with the justice system, Catherine is passionate about increasing the opportunities for women and girls to live trauma free and happy lives.

Catherine is currently on extended leave.

Gloria Larman is WJN’s Acting Chief Executive Officer. Gloria has more than three decades experience working in the not-for-profit sector with particular focus on the criminal justice system and the impacts on women, children and families.
Gloria was previously the Chief Executive Officer of SHINE for Kids, which successfully expanded under her leadership and is now operating in four states across Australia. Gloria built up strong strategic partnerships and developed innovative research and programs, positioning SHINE for Kids as a respected service provider to children and families, and she brings that insight to WJN.
Gloria has authored papers detailing the issues faced by children whose parents receive prison sentences, and has made recommendations to government and government agencies regarding solutions to the complex issues involved. She has also presented at international conferences and seminars, as well as regularly appearing in the media.
Gloria holds a diploma in welfare, and degrees in community management and adult education, and brings her passion and commitment for the sector to WJN.