Meet the #NationalY
Of Te Akitai, Wai-o-Hua, Te Rarawa descent, Karinia was appointed to the Y National board in 2019 and has over 30 years experience in the charitable and business sectors. Karinia has become known for her strong commercial acumen, agile strategic thinking, innovative leadership, and her ability to create inclusive environments that celebrate diversity. Karinia is Head of Centre for Social Impact and her aspiration for the Y is to see it united and continuing to evolve through strategic collaboration, to remain relevant and inclusive of women throughout all communities of Aotearoa.
Devanga is a first-generation Sri Lankan New Zealander and grew up in Te Awa Kairangi ki Tai, Lower Hutt. She has served as the Community Partnerships Manager at Local Government New Zealand where she provided leadership on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in local democracy. With her extensive and multidisciplinary background in DEI, communications and engagement, and service design, Devanga is drawn to mahi that improves diversity and inclusion in all its forms in Aotearoa. Devanga is also a board member of the YWCA Greater Wellington and the Aotearoa Food Rescue Alliance which provides national support for food rescue organisations.
Sumita’s 23-year long career has been in the fiduciary and investment sector where she administered and managed a portfolio of charitable trusts that were major funders of education, arts, medical and agricultural research, in her roles as a Client Manager and later Investment and Philanthropy Partner at Perpetual Guardian. Sumita is a Certified Financial Planner, a qualified Financial Adviser and has over 16 years experience providing financial advice and investment management services. She founded Athena Wealth NZ, an independent financial planning practice that has focused on empowering women by helping them with a comprehensive financial plan to enable financial independence.
Nera is a first-generation, New Zealand-born Samoan from Porirua, Wellington. She works as a human rights advisor at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. Motivated to find a cause to channel her passion for community empowerment, justice, equity and equality through, the Y Aotearoa’s purpose and mission resonated strongly with her. This led to Nera joining the board in 2022. She brings with her a focus on diversity, intersectionality and youth. Her hope is for all women in Aotearoa New Zealand to be empowered and supported to achieve their needs and aspirations.
Born and brought up in Kirikiriroa, Aaminah has always been inspired by her family to give back to the community and advocate for just processes. Her passions led her to launch the Women in Business Association while studying at the University of Waikato, an association focused on building networks for female students before they enter the workplace, and more recently to be elected as President of the Y Tamaki Makaurau Board. Currently working at Fonterra as a Relationship Lead, Aaminah is dedicated to carving out spaces and amplifying young brown women in areas they are often unseen. Aaminah's main driver is her community and recognising that forging steps today will eliminate mountains for those in the future.
Lushomo Thebe is a trailblazer and leader in women’s empowerment, leadership, and migrant rights. Originally from Zambia, Lushomo moved to New Zealand with her family in 2010 with a suitcase and a dream. Her efforts as Head Girl at Sacred Heart Girls’ College Hamilton, led to her being awarded the University of Waikato’s Ko Te Tangata Scholarship. Lushomo pursued a conjoint degree in Law and Business. Her studies have given her the confidence and skills to take on great career opportunities, including internships at New Zealand's leading law firms, Bell Gully and Chapman Tripp. She is currently the President of the Waikato Students’ Union and a member of the University’s Council. Lushomo is also one of the founding members of the Zambians in the Aotearoa Association.
Charlotte holds a Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Arts (major – Political Science) as well as a Masters degree in Political Science and in 2022, was was awarded the Property Council Central Region Judge’s Choice award in recognition of her contribution to the law industry of Aotearoa. Charlotte has held numerous leadership positions including as a board member for YWCA Hamilton and is currently a member of the YWCA World board. Charlotte brings a wealth of legal and governance experience to the national board.
Toni Brown is a full-time employee as a Case manager for Ara Poutama Aotearoa - Department of Corrections and has been involved with the YWCA in various ways since she was 19 years old. She started out as the Young Women’s Coordinator with the YWCA of Whangarei in 2004. Toni has experience in the operations of overseas MAs, filling an administrative role/internship for the YWCA of Queensland for just over a year during a 10-year period of residency in Australia. After moving home and relocating to Kaikohe, Northland. Toni currently serves on the board of the Whangarei MA. She thoroughly enjoyed her previous role coordinating programmes and initiatives on behalf of the YWCA Whangarei and is seeking further opportunities to give more back to her local community, to the YWCA, and to the young women the Y serves.