Leadership Team

Linda Matthews

Linda Matthews

Chief Executive Officer

Linda has worked in leadership positions for the last three decades. She has a successful track record in the following areas:

  • Managing competing interests of diverse stakeholder groups in local, state and national arenas
  • Managing staff in small and large organisations
  • Delivering high quality policy advice
  • Conducting complex negotiations requiring high order advocacy skills
  • Advising business, government and community groups on conflict management
  • Media commentary on a variety of topics

Linda has held positions in South Australia as the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity and Director Funding and Advocacy at the S.A. Intellectual Disability Services Council. In 2018 she was appointed as Chairperson for disability services provider SCOSA.

Following these positions she was appointed Queensland’s first Privacy Commissioner in 2010. She was the Executive Director of Women NSW in 2013-2014.

Linda has also managed a number of organisations including the Parks Community Legal Service, SA Domestic Violence Prevention Unit, and the SA Rape and Sexual Assault Service. Most recently Linda was interim CEO for Survivors of Torture and Trauma Rehabilitation Services (STTARS) and interim CEO at Catherine House 2016-2017.

Linda is an experienced manager, mentor and problem solver.  She has led and participated in many community, business and government forums and events covering a multiplicity of topics.

Deirdre Flynn

Deirdre Flynn

Director - Client Services

Deirdre is dedicated to, and passionate about, helping women experiencing homelessness deal with and address the issues that have created this episode in their lives. This includes having access to the highest standard of programs and services all designed to assist them to move forward in life – in a way that brings them joy, economic independence and a renewed sense of self belief in who they are and what they can achieve in life.

In 2009 she funded her own trip to Nepal and raised funds with Habitat for Humanity to assist several families build a home in a remote village. The “can do” attitude of the local community and the joy shown by people with so little has remained with her as a reminder that attitude to life and access to opportunities is so important.

In 2011 and 2013 she ran, as a complete novice, in the New York and Paris Marathons to raise funds for Catherine House. She did this to ensure she could walk the talk – that through self-belief, being task focussed and a lot of hard work, dreams and goals can be achieved. In late 2016 after months of self -doubt, she completed two marathons, only weeks apart, to remind herself of how hard it is making a commitment to a long haul goal and seeing it through. Yet with effort it can be done and this is what clients that come to Catherine House are trying to do. Having a strong awareness of how hard change is for any of us helps her when she speaks with women about the value of perseverance and the feeling one has when they have accomplished something they have worked hard for.

Her studies in sociology and psychology obtained through an Arts Degree and her Post Graduate Social Work degree provided the interest she has today in supporting people experiencing disadvantage.

Anne Nixon

Anne Nixon

Director - Organisational Services

Anne Nixon brings to her role many years of experience managing services, projects, programs and people and in the development and implementation of community and health service delivery, as well as in tertiary education and research, in several countries.

Anne brings an international perspective to her work, with a social justice underpinning. She is experienced in clinical service delivery, strategic planning, policy development, governance and finance management. She has worked in women’s and reproductive health, Aboriginal health, primary health and mental health and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Anne has a passion for leadership, as a Fellow of the Governor’s Leadership Foundation Program and a Director of the Leaders Institute of South Australia from 2013 – 2017.

She enjoys strengthening the systems and processes that enable not for profit organisations to achieve their aims and mission and finds putting these skills to work at Catherine House very rewarding.

Jaylee Cooper

Jaylee Cooper

Manager - Fundraising, Events and Marketing

Jaylee has a passion for working within not for profit organisations and has a strong desire to make a difference in the community.

Her career commenced in the corporate sector but she soon realised her skill set was best placed to working within not for profit organisations.

Jaylee’s experience has been varied, focusing on fundraising and event management, corporate partnerships, marketing and PR, social media management and community engagement.

Having worked in both small and large not for profit organisations she knows the many challenges they face and strives to ensure funds raised result in service provision and outcomes for clients. Jaylee prides herself on ensuring fundraising is always transparent.

Jaylee believes strongly in the vision of Catherine House as feels incredibly fortunate in making a difference to the lives of women experiencing homelessness.

Gillian Bridgden

Gillian Bridgden

Manager - National Homelessness Housing Agreement (NHHA Services)

Gillian Bridgen has recently joined Catherine House and has brought years of experience in managing within the allied health and Not for Profit Sector in South Australia.

Building on earlier allied health qualifications, Gillian undertook Post-Graduate Social Work study and commenced work as a Social Worker in the community services sector.  She has had clinical and leadership experience across a range of service areas including mental health, suicide prevention (specifically young people and Indigenous communities) and drug and alcohol services.  Gillian also managed a Registered Training Organisation.

Gillian has steadfastly remained committed to working with the most vulnerable individuals within our communities.  She feels it is a privilege to observe people restoring their belief in themselves and building their capacity to live their ‘best’ life.  Gillian also enjoys supporting Workers to provide quality, effective services within a supportive and positive team culture.

Gillian previously worked as a Senior Adult and Peadiatric Audiologist and Hearing Centre Manager within the Commonwealth Government.  She later used these skills to operate a successful Private Practice in the Adelaide Hills.

Darlene O'Leary

Darlene O'Leary

Manager - Clinical Lead Mental Health Programs

Darlene has been working at Catherine House since 2006 and is currently the Clinical Lead Mental Health Programs.

Her career started as she had a strong interest in Mental Health and how the mind works.

Darlene has a Degree in Behavioural Science (psychology and sociology, with minor in disability studies).

Through her many years in the allied health profession she has continued her professional development and is currently undertaking a postgraduate Degree in counselling and psychotherapy studies. Darlene is particularly passionate about supporting people to overcome obstacles (from their past and those imposed by society) and to realise their potential to ensure they are living their best life.