2021 Board

Jane Ryan

President, Finance & Governance, Branding & Communications

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I’m a recent convert to women’s footy, but have been a keen follower of Aussie rules, as well as a enjoying my sports career as a netballer, and a rower.  I am an ardent member of the Falcons, having come as a Masters footy player two years ago, and am in awe of the welcoming, accepting and supporting place it provides to girls and women in soccer, football, cricket and eight ball.

I am a long term policy officer in the area of environmental and rural water management and am currently working in the Minister for Water’s office as her Deputy Chief of Staff. I bring networks, governance and consultation experience because of this background.

I have also been on boards in the not for profit sector for over 10 years, and was President of the Vic Association of Environmental Education.

Jasmine Hirst

Vice President, Head of Soccer

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I’ve been a member of the Falcons since 2006 when I first joined the senior soccer team. I came to the game of soccer in my Melbourne University days and wished I had discovered it much earlier. After travelling and playing in London and Canberra, I returned to Melbourne and found a spiritual home with the Falcons.

I joined the Club Committee (as it was known then) in 2010 and then began the Junior Soccer program here in 2011 in collaboration with some of my senior teammates with the idea of providing an opportunity for our own girls to play. Since then have watched it grow to the 29 team, 480-member program that it is today, thanks to the wonderful community of players, coaches and volunteers that share the vision of a club where girls and women are at the heart of everything we do, rather than an after-thought.

I have a Graduate Diploma in sports management and have worked at the UK Sports Institute and the Australian Sports Commission, as well as on the Commonwealth Games and in a marketing role for a sports equipment company.

With the junior soccer program now a full pathway from 4 year olds up to senior women, including Soccer Mums, I am looking forward to us consolidating our contribution to gender equality in off-field roles and with older junior and senior players taking up roles in our coaching and refereeing programs.

Danielle Jacobson

Treasurer

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I got involved with the Falcons when I came across a footy game while walking my dogs along the Merri Creek. I love footy, so I started timing my weekend dog walks to the Falcon’s fixture. Until then I hadn’t thought much about women’s sport, but as I spent more time at the club I came to understand the role of sport in broader social change. I was amazed by the work that the Falcons did at an individual level, to develop girls and women, and at a social level by advocating for positive change through sport. I joined the board in 2016 and took on my current role as Treasurer in 2018. In this role I am working towards having strong frameworks, easy processes and clear reporting that free up our time to focus on what we are really about.

In my work roles as a People & Culture manager and Organisation Development consultant I work with organisations to build capability and capacity, and to embrace people centric practices that help make work a good place to be. I am the President of Organisation Development Australia, a professional body for OD practitioners, and am studying towards a Graduate Diploma in Psychology.

Andrea Ludlow

Secretary

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As a fan of sport in general I have been excited to follow the rise of the AFLW and women’s footy more broadly. I became involved with the Falcons as an occasional game day volunteer a couple of years ago via my friendship with the then President, Sarah Brady.  I came onto the board at the end of 2019 in the role of Secretary.

My background is in Financial Planning and I have been self-employed in the sector for around 15 years. I bring administration skills and a desire to work hard to see more women and girls thrive in sports they love to play.

Julie Boffa

General Member, Head of Senior Football,  Strategic Partnerships

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This is my fifth year on the Board and my 15th at the Falcons – my first 10 years were spent cheering on my Falcon footballer daughter Tilly, now living, and still playing footy in Adelaide. I love the opportunities and friendships the Falcons opened for Til and remain committed to the Club as a force for good for sports loving girls and women!

My experience as a social worker, -working with and for others, creating partnerships and promoting social justice – translates readily to the variety of Board roles I have undertaken.  This year I have taken up the role of Head of Senior Footy and hope that all players experience the renowned Falcon fun and friendship, have opportunity to develop their skills, and contribute to maintaining the Club as a thriving, strong community.

Natalie Kitzelman

General Member, Head of Junior Football

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I have been involved with the Falcons since 2012 when my eldest daughter started playing junior footy.  Now all three of my girls are Falcons, playing junior footy and soccer; and my partner is Development coach of the VFLW team.  

This is my third year on the Board as Junior Footy Co-ordinator, but I also help with merchandise, promotion and sponsorship. 

I work as a Textile Designer/Product Developer, currently in homewares, and also develop products with remote community art centres. My work skills help me contribute creative ideas and ways we can improve and grow the club. Being passionate about social justice and feminism, I love the opportunities to listen and learn and implement positive action.  The Falcons work hard to maintain and increase our place and voice within the sporting landscape, so that women are visible as players but also as leaders and decision makers. One of my aims is to broaden our reach to create a more diverse club by dismantling participation barriers. 

Having always admired the strong history and work of the Falcons, I hope my contribution will continue to benefit girls and womxn at the club. Apart from playing sport and forming great friendships, I love the inspiration my family receives from the club’s values, players and role models.

Steph Simpson

General Member

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I am heading into my twelfth season of footy with the Falcons. I was Captain of our VFLW team in 2019 and I am extremely grateful for the opportunities the club has provided me. I have been involved in some great teams, shared some on field success but most importantly I have met some amazing people along the way.

The club has welcomed my whole family and they are just as invested as I am, with my sister Natasha also on the board; my sister Chloe played footy in our division 1 team and my parents and two other sisters are all die hard supporters and social members.

I am passionate about women’s footy and women’s sport in general and am proud to be part of a club that is committed to providing a safe and inclusive space for women and girls to not only participate in sport, but provide opportunities to lead the way off the field.

I studied exercise science/human movement & sport administration at university and am currently working for a building company. I look forward to contributing to the club as a board member, working with the other board members and hope to bring a different perspective as a current player.

Jackie Lynch

General Member, Events & Membership

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I am a member of the Falcons Masters Australian Football team and my daughter, Emily is part of the Under 12s team.

My involvement with the Falcons has evolved from fan, to social club member, to volunteer, player and parent of a player. Like millions of Australian girls and women, my lifelong passion for footy was given a supercharged boost by the advent of the AFLW back in 2017.

I am a high school teacher, and I have worked for the last fifteen years at Braybrook College in Melbourne’s west. I am now a leading teacher, and thus responsible for coordinating programs, some of which are very broad in scope. Prior to this, I was an electrical trades apprentice, working on major building sites in a program coordinated by the Electrical Trades Union and the Victorian Women’s Trust.

Over my lifetime, I have been involved in a wide variety of campaigns and initiatives  – from the International Women’s Day Rally collective, to refugee rights campaigns, to the campaign for marriage equality. I am a feminist, and an ardent believer in the power of collective action to bring about positive change. 

I believe that my experience as a fan, a volunteer and  a player, combined with a strong sense of social justice, will allow me to make valuable contributions to the Falcons Board. I would like to help the Club grow even stronger, even more diverse and to maintain and build upon the club’s feminist traditions  of making sport accessible and enjoyable for all girls and women while acting as a voice for positive social change. Of particular interest to me is maximising volunteer’s time and energy, retaining players, especially at a junior level, and helping more women become coaches.

Leigh Mellish

General Member, Branding & Communications

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I’m a senior marketing manager for a large multinational entertainment brand and a new member of the Darebin Falcons board. I bring experience with brand management and strategy, social media and planning, stakeholder management, events planning and commercial partnership development.

I’ve worked with several AFLW clubs and players as part of my role in a 2019 brand campaign appealing to girls, women and families. Through my work I discovered so many players had Darebin backgrounds and such a strong love for the original women’s footy club. After moving to Preston shortly after, I wanted to contribute to our thriving local community and The Falcons felt like a great fit.

I’m looking forward to building on the strong sense of community that The Falcons players and fans have ‘IRL’ onto our social and digital platforms.

Emily Booth

General Member, Finance and Governance, Strategic Partnerships

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I am looking forward to becoming involved with the Darebin Falcons as the club embodies many of my passions, sport, feminism and the local community. I have board experience with Women in Film and Television (Vic) and Northcote-based Free to Feed, organisations which also celebrate inclusivity. I have 10+ years experience as a commercial lawyer and hope to contribute to the board in areas around governance and risk.  

Mereki Nieman

General Member, Events & Membership, Communications & Branding

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I have been part of the Falcons family for over 8 years as a parent, junior soccer coach and committee member.  This is my third year as a member of the board, and in that time I have been focused on developing our sponsorship and membership programs and setting up the Falcons online store.

Over my career I have held various project and program management roles in financial services and online retail technology projects in organisations such as ANZ, Coles and MYOB.  I am currently working on my own start up in the Fintech space. 

Natasha Simpson

General Member, Communication & Branding

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The Falcons have been part of my family for over 10 years. I will never forget the pure joy I saw in my sister’s face when she found the Falcons and was finally able to play her beloved AFL again. For many years I stood on the sidelines cheering, and for the last 3 years I have been General Member on the D.W.S.C board. In this time have worked across the Falcon’s marketing initiatives, events and have a special interest in supporting the club’s VFLW team.

My background is in marketing, and I have spent many years working with some iconic brands such as Holden, Dulux and ANZ. I specialise in creating organisational agility by building and leading high-performance teams.

I am passionate about gender equity and am proud to be part of the club that is determined to increase female participation in sport; particularly in male-dominated codes (AFL, Soccer, Cricket and 8-Ball).

Kas Taleb

General Member, Culture & Wellbeing

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I’m the founder of Arete, a startup that is focused on building youth athlete’s mental fitness. I am a new member of the Darebin Falcon’s Board and am excited to help out in the wellbeing space.

I am a teacher, and have studied the Masters of Entrepreneurship and am currently studying Masters of Applied Positive Psychology.

I have two sons, with one being a soccer player for Melbourne City Football Club and through this became passionate about empowering our athletes with mental fitness so that they reach their full potential on and off the pitch. 

When it comes to mental health, I believe prevention and education is crucial. And that’s why it’s is important to me and the Falcons that we  instil mental health literacy in adolescents from a young age. This ensures we set them up with healthy behaviours, frameworks, and tools to help them navigate the challenges of life; in and out of sport. We are creating a space where Falcon members can reach out and seek support, without fear of stigma.