McAuley Community Services for Women's governance structure encompasses the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea who carry out a stewardship and ownership role, and the Board of Directors that is the key governance body for the organisation.

Each Board member is committed to providing good governance, effective financial management and creativity as they advocate for a better, safer and just society.

Board of Directors

Our current board members are:

Sonja Hood (Chair)

Sonja Hood is CEO of Community Hubs Australia, an organisation working across Australia to help to integrate migrants and refugees - particularly women - into our community. Her background is in health policy, where she has a PhD and over 20 years experience in research and implementation in Australia, the US and the U.K. Her particular interest is programs that drive change and make a tangible difference to people's lives, and this is the reason she joined the Board.

Mark Birrell

Mark is the Chief Financial Officer of Partners Wealth Group, and has had extensive experience as a financial services executive /consultant in the development and management of distribution, financial planning, retail investment product, superannuation and master trust businesses with major Australian Organizations and Industry Bodies. His background includes leadership experience with profit centre and strategic development responsibilities. Mark's strong leadership skills and experiences are an asset to our organisation.

Bridgid Connors

Bridgid Connors is Chief Human Resources Officer with Monash University. She has always worked in areas that serve to positively impact community wellbeing and improve social justice for all, such as Melbourne Health, Department of Justice and Regulation, WorkCover and the Department of Premier and Cabinet in South Australia. Bridgid has an Executive Master of Public Administration and a Master of Applied Positive Psychology and believes everyone must play a role in the generational change necessary to remove family violence from our communities.

Michelle Cotter

Dr Michelle Cotter is Principal at Avila College in Mount Waverley, having previously been Principal of Mercy College, Coburg where she worked for thirteen years. Michelle recently completed an Executive MBA, Doctorate of Education, Master in Leadership and Master in Religious Education. Leading in a Catholic school community for global citizenship in the twenty-first century resonates powerfully with the story of Catherine McAuley and for Catholic girls’ Education. Michelle sees her stewardship of Gospel values and Catherine’s story being realised in her work as a teacher and leader in Catholic education, but also as a contributor to our Board.

Sr Christine Coughlan RSM

Christine Coughlan, a Sister of Mercy trained as a teacher at the Teacher Training at Aquinas College (now ACU). Once qualified, Christine moved to country Victoria to commence her teaching career. Following that time, she moved to Melbourne working in Supportive Accommodation for HIV+ men for 12 years; during this time, she also volunteered at Mercy Care (now McAuley Care) and the Royal Children’s Hospital. Since returning to Ballarat she has studied Pastoral Counselling and cared for her aging mother as well as being involved in the care of elderly Sisters of Mercy.

Sr Joan Doyle, RSM

Joan brings a great commitment to pastoral care, education and social welfare. After gaining qualifications in music and teaching she entered the Congregation of Sisters of Mercy. She then completed a social work degree and worked in Child Protection and in the Women and Girls in Custody advocacy group. Joan has worked in Chile and Peru for 18 years where she was involved with the community to establish three centres for women, two childcare centres and a medical clinic. She worked in partnership with Caritas Australia and Mercy Family Health Service for 10 years to implement a community health education program encompassing projects in ecology, sanitation and nutrition. Joan is the current Director of Initial Formation for the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea

Anita Morris

Dr Anita Morris is Family Violence Principal Practitioner at the Department of Health and Human Services. She has a social work background and has worked across health, education, government and the community sector. Anita completed her PhD in 2015 on the safety and resilience of children who experience family violence. She was an expert witness at the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence and she brings her knowledge of honouring children’s voices into our organisation to continue to support initiatives that keep women and children safe.

Angela Scaffidi

Angela Scaffidi is SenateSHJ’s head of change, and she designs, implements and measures change programs for clients in the public and private sector. She is an accredited user of the Four Rooms of Change™ and she specialises in change in the health and education sectors. She has worked in professional services for more than 20 years. Prior to establishing Scaffidi Hugh-Jones (now SenateSHJ), she worked at McKinsey & Company and Turnbull Porter Novelli. She has won a range of state, national and international awards for her work in communication. She is a Fellow of the Public Relations Institute of Australia.

Rob Scenna

Rob Scenna is CEO of Catholic Church Insurance. He has more than 20 years’ experience in financial services, management consulting and aviation, previously holding positions of Managing Director ANZ Private Wealth, Managing Director ANZ Trustees and Managing Director Super Concepts. Rob has a passion for building energised and engaged workplaces and developing solutions to enable businesses to directly benefit communities. He is a graduate of the 2013 Leadership Victoria – Williamson Community Leadership Program.

Matt Tilley


Matt Tilley, KiiS 101.1 FM breakfast radio personality, had been involved with our organisation for a few years through his MC'ing of the last two Fed Up lunches, before joining the Board in 2016. It offers him a chance to work for the elimination of family violence, but also to continue his long association with ministries of the Sisters of Mercy, an order of women religious that he admires for the work they have done over many decades. He welcomed an involvement in the Fed Up lunches because they offer men the chance to weigh into the issue of family violence in a positive way.