Our Executive Team

Debra Zanella

Title CEO
Experience and Expertise With 20 years’ experience in the community sector, Debra is a strong advocate for vulnerable and disadvantaged people. She has worked in senior roles in specialised drug and alcohol services, Catholic hospital executive management and other related health and community services. A Director of the West Australian Association for Mental Health since March 2016, Debra is a Board Member of the East Metropolitan Health Service and Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee and President of the Western Australian Council of Social Services (WACOSS). Debra previously served as a Director of the Western Australian Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies (WANADA).

Graham Donnelly

Title Chief Financial Officer
Experience and Expertise Graham is a chartered accountant with more than 20 years’ experience in both the commercial and not-for-profit sectors in Ireland and Australia. He has worked across a wide and diverse range of industries from sales and marketing, rail networks, construction, tourism and disability services. Graham holds a BA in Accounting and Finance and holds Fellowship membership with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).

Ben Hawthorn

Title Executive Manager, Research, Design and Innovation
Experience and Expertise Ben has had a diverse career having worked internationally and locally across various industry sectors, from education and health to engineering and sustainability on large-scale infrastructure projects. He also has a strong interest in social enterprise and digital ventures, having co-founded an online disability marketplace and advised a number of startups both locally and internationally as a Partner at Health Disrupt. Ben holds a B.Sc (double major), Post Graduate DipEd and other post graduate business qualifications. He has completed the General Management Program at Mt Eliza Executive Education, Melbourne Business School and is accredited in RABQSA-QM Auditing Quality Management Systems. Ben is currently a Board Director of Shelter WA and WA Blue Sky.

Mark Slattery

Title Executive Manager, Operations
Experience and Expertise Mark has worked in health and not-for-profit sectors in Australia and the United Kingdom for more than three decades, amassing a wealth of knowledge in the social services and health sectors, especially focused in quality and client focused outcomes. He has held senior positions in health policy and operations, including as interim CEO at 360 Health.

Sam Knight

Title Executive Manager, Housing and Homelessness Strategy
Experience and Expertise With a background in strategic program management, Sam has worked on numerous programs that have a strong overlap between the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. He joined Ruah in 2016 while looking at the community health sector for research into the social determinants of health. Sam is a member of the WA Alliance to End Homelessness Facilitating Group and contributes to the Alliance’s 10 Year Strategy to End Homelessness.

Shayla Strapps

Title Executive Manager, Legal Governance and Compliance
Experience and Expertise A solicitor and manager with diverse work experience across community legal centres, not-for-profits, government and private practice, Shayla was awarded the ‘Lawyer of the Year’ award by the WA Law Society in 2012. Her experience extends to business operations, project management, business development, strategy and finance. She is committed to the development of community organisations and has volunteered on numerous not-for-profit boards and committees.

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