Trustees & CEO

Our Board of Trustees

Our Board of Trustees is responsible for the overall governance and strategic direction of the organisation. They ensure that we comply with all of the required legal and regulatory requirements. Our trustees work for us voluntarily to make sure we’re doing all we can to end domestic abuse and all forms of violence against women and children.


Kirsty Palmer (Chair)

Kirsty is Director of Student Services at Cardiff Met University, covering careers, mental health, disability, chaplaincy and money advice, among other things. Having been based in Cardiff for a number of years now, Kirsty previously lived and worked in London, where she was Chair of Trustees at North Kensington Law Centre. She lives with her partner and two cats, Samson and Chester, and she is a regular parkrun volunteer, keen runner and aspiring powerlifter.

“I am a feminist, and I wanted to use my experience of leadership and trusteeship in service of a cause I am really personally committed to. I believe that we will only tackle the epidemic of VAWG if we are able to influence and lobby on a structural and systemic level to ensure that not only do we have adequately-resourced specialist services, but also that we are addressing the underlying causes – we will not cure the disease if we only ever treat the symptoms.”


Helen Kell

Helen Kell (Vice Chair) is the Director of Strategic Growth for Chwarae Teg. Having recently been the Director of Income and Development for a member service, Helen understands the funding and commissioning environment of women’s services and the constraints that services must deliver within. Prior to working within the women’s sector, Helen has worked in digital inclusion, training, child poverty, and physical regeneration. It was through her work within the child poverty sector, where she witnessed the disproportionate impact of austerity on women’s lives, that she became more focused on gender inequalities.

Alongside her work, Helen is an active member of her community including as a trustee for the Youth Inclusion charity. She has a keen interest in current affairs, music, reading, cricket, and crochet.


 Trish McGrath

Trish McGrath is CEO of Aberystwyth University Students’ Union, having worked in the third sector for 22 years. She is a passionate feminist with a keen active interest and involvement in campaigning for and fighting for equality.

Trish lives in coastal mid Wales with her cats, dog and son. In her spare time she loves singing, wool crafts, the beach and fitness through strength, conditioning and trail running along local coastal paths and hills.


Vicky Friis

Vicky Friis is the Chief Executive of Vale of Glamorgan specialist domestic abuse service, Vale Domestic Abuse Services.

In her previous role, Vicky led Carmarthen Domestic Abuse Services, taking them through quality standards, providing development opportunities for the team, and increasing their income and the services they provide. Vicky also worked as part of the Communities First programme in Rhondda Cynon Taf, developing several successful projects and initiatives.

Obtaining a degree at 32, whilst parenting three children and holding down a part time job is one of Vicky’s proudest achievements.


Nic Danson

Nic Danson works in Human Resources, having previously worked in the charity sector supporting disadvantaged groups to overcome structural inequalities. In 2018, she also held an Executive Officer position to support the Welsh Women’s Aid CEO role.

Nic is a parent governor for her local primary and comprehensive schools and she is passionate about supporting women impacted by VAWG and tackling gender inequality.


Rowena Christmas

Rowena Christmas is a GP and safeguarding lead with 23 years of experience working in a small rural practice in Monmouthshire. Building relationships with families over this time has enabled her to understand the profound impact of domestic abuse has on whole families over generations. This knowledge lead her to establish peer safeguarding support groups across Wales, enabling GPs to improve both the recognition and support offered to patients at risk of harm. She was made a Bevan Exemplar for this work.

Alongside her practice work Rowena is currently Chair of RCGP Wales. Safeguarding is her Chair’s Priority, along with focussing on relationship based care and health inequalities.


Julie McCarthy

Julie is the Quality Manager at Ecosurety, an environmental compliance scheme helping producers meet their recycling obligations. As a qualified ISO auditor, she has the ability to step back, look at the big picture, probe, challenge and provide interesting and objective insights to facilitate decision-making in order to achieve the Company’s strategic goals.

Originally from Manchester, Julie has worked in a number of countries including UK, South Africa and the Netherlands and is now living in Cardiff with her husband.

“I have had the privilege of visiting many countries with very different cultures and have seen, and at times experienced, discrimination of varying proportion which in this day and age should not occur. I am, and have been from an early age, a keen believer in equality be it age, race, gender, or religious beliefs to name but a few and I am passionate about being able to make a difference by helping bring about the required change in our society in whatever capacity I can.”

When not working Julie is an avid reader, likes a good ‘fair weather’ walk and is an aspiring artist.


Kerry-Lynne Doyle

Kerry-Lynne is a qualified journalist and Chartered PR Practitioner who has worked in charity health communications in Wales since 2009. She has led Macmillan Cancer Support’s communications work in Wales for many years and sits on its Wales leadership team.

She had previously been a trustee for Women’s Equality Network Wales as well as establishing and chairing a small holiday hunger charity in Bridgend with local people.

Outside of work, Kerry-Lynne enjoys reading, running, yoga and singing in a choir. Kerry-Lynne is also a qualified coach and has been learning Welsh for more than a decade.


Suzanne Sarjeant

Suzanne has worked in the education sector for 30 years as a teacher, headteacher, researcher and professional advisor. Throughout her career she has been committed to securing the best outcomes for children and families.

She has been a strong advocate for developing greater engagement and support for families and has undertaken research in this area in order to support schools develop this. She has had extensive leadership experience and is an alumni associate of the National Academy for Educational Leadership.

She is currently on secondment to the Welsh Government where she has supported the development of the national Community Focused School guidance.


Michelle Pooley

Michelle Pooley is the Chief Executive Officer of West Wales Domestic Absue Service, a Welsh Women’s Aid member.

She is an experienced leader and manager in the domestic violence sector, having worked for over 30 years across public, private, community and voluntary sectors on strategy, policy, commissioning and stakeholder engagement.

Michelle is a champion of women’s and children’s rights and an expert in organisational development, promoting equality and diversity; and an experienced community development and domestic abuse practitioner with Masters qualifications in public/community sector administration and partnerships. She is a founder member and coordinator of the first European wide child to parent abuse evidence-based programme – Break4Change.


Our staff and volunteers

Welsh Women’s Aid employs around 50 dedicated staff across Wales, working on membership and engagement, communication, training, policy and public affairs, services development, survivor involvement, business support, and in direct services. We also have regular volunteers who support our work.


Sara Kirkpatrick joined Welsh Women’s Aid as CEO in April 2020.

Formerly Research & Development Manager at Respect, the UK membership organisation for work with domestic violence perpetrators, male victims and young people. In that role, Sara supported member organisations to deliver interventions with perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse, as well as leading on research and service development across the UK.

Starting her career providing support in a women’s refuge, she has worked with a range of client groups including male victims, children impacted by domestic abuse, women remaining in abusive relationships and perpetrators of domestic abuse. Sara has contributed to a number of frontline innovative projects with perpetrators of IPV including co-authoring and delivering the award winning CARA conditional caution project, contributing to the development of DRIVE and most recently working alongside Welsh Women’s Aid on their Change That Lasts perpetrator strand.