Team

Carlos SANVEE (Togo)

Secretary General
Find out more about Carlos Sanvee

Gloria Shimuli ANYIKA (Kenya)

Programme Manager

Duncan CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh)

Governance Manager

Sandra COMBET (France)

Executive Assistant

Kathleen ELSIG (US, Switzerland)

Director of Global Partnerships

Claude-Alain DANTHE (Switzerland)

Head of Digital Strategy

Mykyta KRUSHELNYTSKI (Ukraine)

Operations Manager

Alexandra MEISSL (France)

Accountant

John PHILLIPS (UK)

Director of Communications

Maria Cristina SALDARRIAGA (Peru)

Programme Manager

Răzvan-Victor SASSU (Romania)

Head of Policy & Strategy

Nathalie THOMAS (UK)

Programme Manager

Suzanne WATSON (UK)

Director of Finance and Administration

Bonnie Gretzner (US)

Content and Digital Communications Manager

Carlos SANVEE (Togo) is Secretary General of the World Alliance of YMCAs. He took up the role in January 2019.

He joined YMCA Togo as a teenage volunteer in 1973, and became a staff member in 1987 as a youth worker and community organiser. He ultimately became the deputy National General Secretary.

He first joined World YMCA in January 1999 as Executive for Finance & Administration, a position he held until 2007. During this time he was secretary of the-then Youth Committee within the Executive Committee, and strove to integrate young people at all levels of the Committee, and not in separate committees.

He then worked as General Secretary of the Africa Alliance of YMCAs from 2007 until 2018, when he led the African YMCA Movements in articulating their collective identity with a shared vision around the ‘African Renaissance’. In this period he developed the Africa-wide YMCA ‘From Subject to Citizen’ programme.

From 2011 to 2018, he was also acting as a part-time Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the World YMCAs.

During the 19th YMCA World Council in Chiang Mai, Thailand in July 2018, he became the first African to be elected Secretary General of World YMCA.

In his current role, he led the response to the Covid crisis from early 2020 by launching YMCA-wide efforts for Movements to share and help each other, notably launching the YMCA Covid Solidarity Fund. Putting young people at the centre of initiating and leading change, he created the vision for the Youth Led Solutions Initiative, a series of Summits and projects launched in 2021 to empower young people with knowledge, networks and resources to lead change in their communities. He has been at the forefront of developing new partnerships with the public, private and ‘third’ (civil society) sectors, especially with the ‘Big 6’ youth empowerment organisations and the WHO and UN, in launching the Global Youth Mobilization in 2020-2022.  Building on the three-part Covid response strategy of ‘Resilience, Recovery and Reimagination’, he spearheaded a Movement-wide process of conversation and consultation which led to the adoption of YMCA Vision 2030 at the 20th YMCA World Council in Aarhus, Denmark in July 2022. The vision puts young people at the centre of the YMCA’s mission, a direction he had promoted across his different roles since 2010.

His priority in his second term of office – from 2022 to 2026 – is to see Vision 2030 implemented across the Movement, addressing the 12 Strategic Goals of the four ‘Pillars of Impact’: Community Wellbeing, Meaningful Work, Sustainable Planet, and Just World. World YMCA’s first duty is to add value to its members.

He holds a first degree in Physics and Chemistry from Université du Bénin in Togo, and a “Diplôme des Hautes études de pratiques sociales (DHEPS)” from Université Lyon Lumière II, France.

Gloria SHIMULI ANYIKA (Kenya) is Programme Manager at the World Alliance of YMCAs. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, she took up the role in January 2021.

She was previously a Resident Advisor at the Young African Leaders Initiative for East and Central Africa (2016-2019). Gloria is an Africa YMCA Subject to Citizen (S2C) Ambassador from the 2012 cohort, and was a YMCA Change Agent from the first cohort in 2012.

She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Conservation and Natural Resources Management from the University of Nairobi.

Duncan CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) is the Governance Manager at the World Alliance of YMCAs. Based in Minnesota, USA, he took up the role in August 2020. 

He is a YMCA professional with extensive administrative experience, serving at local, national and regional levels. After graduating from Chittagong University majoring in Accounting, in 1985 he joined Chittagong YMCA as its General Secretary.  In 1998 he was promoted as the National General Secretary of Bangladesh YMCA in Dhaka, after which from 2012 to 2020 he served in Hong Kong at the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs, as Executive Secretary for Programmes.  He also has experience in implementing climate change projects. 

Sandra COMBET (France) is an executive assistant at the World Alliance of YMCAs. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, she took up the role in September 2019. 

​She was previously a Business Operations Specialist and Events Manager at the World Economic Forum (2006-2017). She held ​several roles as Executive and Personal Assistant at Avent in London, UK (2001-2003); at Capital One in London, UK (2000); at IATA in Geneva (2005); and at the Diplomatic Mission of Taiwan in Geneva (1994-97).

Kathleen ELSIG (US, Switzerland) is Director of Global Partnerships at the World Alliance of YMCAs.  Based in Geneva, Switzerland, she took up the role in January 2022.

She has 20 years of international experience raising funds and building shared value partnerships with global and local non-profits, businesses, UN agencies, philanthropic organisations, academic institutions, and communities. She has held senior leadership roles, including for the Global Apprenticeship Network, WWF, Switzerland’s Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. She is also a senior associate with the Partnering Initiative, where she has supported international foundations and philanthropic organisations pivot to a partnering approach with grantees. 

With experience working in Europe, Africa, Asia, Central Asia, and North America, she has a Masters Degree in European Political Affairs, diplomas in nonprofit management and fundraising, and has studied widely in corporate sustainability.

Claude-Alain DANTHE (Switzerland) is the Head of Digital Strategy at the World Alliance of YMCAs. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, he took up the role in May 1984.

He specializes in information technology, digital implementation, and also runs the World YMCA archives.  He has taken part in five YMCA World Councils, and worked with seven different Secretaries General.  He holds a degree in information science from the University of Geneva.

Mykyta KRUSHELNYTSKI (Ukraine) is Operations Manager at the World Alliance of YMCAs. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, he took up the role in February 2019. 

Mykyta holds a degree in Linguistics from Kiev State University, and an MSc in International Finance from the Geneva Business School.

Alexandra MEISSL (France, UK & Switzerland) is an Accountant at the World Alliance of YMCAs. Based in Geneva, Switzerland, she took up the role in September 2014.

John PHILLIPS (UK) is Director of Communications at the World Alliance of YMCAs.  Based in Geneva, Switzerland, he took up the role in September 2020.

He was previously strategic communications adviser at the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre in Geneva, having held the same role at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, IFRC, in Geneva since 2017. 

He was Director of Communications at the African Development Bank, AfDB, (2013-2017) and at the European Agency for Reconstruction in the Balkans (2001-2004), and has been in advisory roles for the Secretary General of the IFRC, two AfDB Presidents, two Commonwealth Secretaries General (2006-2011), a UK Secretary of State for International Development (2004-2005), and the EU’s first High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (2011-2012).

 

Maria Cristina SALDARRIAGA (Peru) is Programme Manager at the World Alliance of YMCAs.  Based in Lima, Peru, she took up the role in May 2019.

She was a Programme Assistant at the World Alliance from January 2015 until December 2018. She was the Coordinator of the Children’s area of YMCA Peru in 2014, and is a YMCA Change Agent from  the 2012 Cohort. 

She has a degree in Education.

Răzvan-Victor SASSU (Romania) is Policy and Advocacy Manager at the World Alliance of YMCAs.  Based in Bucharest, Romania, he  took up the role in February 2019. 

He is also the CEO of the Bucharest branch of YMCA Romania (Young Initiative Association), as well as the Treasurer of YMCA Romania. He also serves as Vice-President of the VOLUM Federation in Romania, the largest federation in the country.   

He specialised in organisational management and economics, with a Master’s Degree in the Knowledge-based Economy and Entrepreneurial Management. 

 

Nathalie THOMAS (UK) is Programme Manager at the World Alliance of YMCAs for the ‘Global Youth Mobilisation for Generation Disrupted’ project. Based in London, UK, she took up the role in January 2021.

She was previously Senior Youth Livelihoods Coordinator at Y Care International, supporting YMCA partners to strengthen the design, delivery and impact of youth livelihoods (employment and enterprise) programmes. She led the global Community of Impact in Youth Employment launched by World YMCA in 2019.

Before joining Y Care International, Nathalie was Planning & Reporting Officer at the Humanitarian Leadership Academy in London. Prior to that she was based in the Caribbean for 6 years; firstly in Haiti with MERLIN before joining the Red Cross in Barbados, and latterly the United Nations Development Programme working across portfolios in poverty and governance, sustainable solutions, disaster prevention, recovery and resilience.

She has an MSc in International Public Policy from University College London.

Suzanne WATSON (UK) is Director of Finance and Administration at the World Alliance of YMCAs.   Based in Geneva, Switzerland, she joined the organisation in February 2005.           

She studied Business and Financial Management, and has an MBA as well as a Swiss Diploma in French Language and Civilisation.  She first worked in International Equestrian Event Management, and then moved on to a career in Shipping Logistics and International Trade Finance.  After an 8-year break from work to have children, she joined the YMCA in 2005 as Administrative Assistant, Finance & Administration.

US

Bonnie Gretzner (US) is the Content and Digital Communications Manager at the World Alliance of YMCAs.  Based in Michigan, United States, she took up the role in October 2022. Bonnie works closely with the Director of Communications, focusing on digital communications including the website and social media.

Bonnie joins the World YMCA from the Jackson (Mich.) YMCA in the US, where she served as the Marketing & Communications director for nearly five years, overseeing all internal and external communications. She has been involved in the YMCA for almost 20 years in a variety of roles.

Previous roles include working as a magazine editor and writer, and she has degrees in English and Spanish.