Young Australians in International Affairs is run by a team of dedicated young professionals, graduates, and students. Please see below for the names and positions of our national leadership team.

We often have opportunities for people to join our team of volunteers across the country. For more information, please click below.



Mercedes is the founder and CEO of Young Australians in International Affairs. 

Mercedes was a finalist in the 2019 Women's Agenda Leadership Awards and in 2018 was named by the Financial Review and Qantas as one of Australia's 100 Women of Influence. In 2015 she was recognised by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) as one of Australia's Top 50 Young Social Pioneers.  

Mercedes works for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She previously had a number of roles in the private sector and at one of Australia's leading think-tanks. She was previously a non-resident WSD-Handa Fellow and a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Pacific Forum, Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).


She currently sits on the Youth Working Group of the Global Diplomatic Forum.

Chief Executive Officer


Ashleigh is Young Australians in International Affairs' Chief Financial Officer.

Chief Financial Officer


Alexandra is the Communications Director at Young Australians in International Affairs. She has an academic and professional background in international relations, digital communications and social media, with experience both in Australia and overseas.


Alex recently completed an MSc International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) where she pursued regional specialisations in Chinese foreign and security policy, and the politics and foreign policy of the European Union. She also speaks both Mandarin and German.


Alex has worked in communications, marketing, events, and public diplomacy in not-for-profit organisations and government. She is particularly interested in the dynamics of the Indo-Pacific region and the changing structure of the international order.

Director, Communications


Kieran is Young Australians in International Affairs' Partnerships Director.

Director, Partnerships


Sonia is Young Australians in International Affairs' Future 21 Director.

Director, Future 21


An experienced political communications professional, Liam joined Young Australians in International Affairs looking to apply his professional experience in a field that he is deeply interested in. He has previously established the Fremantle Youth Advisory Council in partnership with local government, and has managed political campaigns at the federal, state and local level. 


Liam is completing a degree in International Relations, and currently works as an adviser in the WA Parliament, working on a diverse array of policy issues including defence and Asian engagement. He believes Young Australians in International Affairs is essential as an organisation for young people looking to make their way in a globalised world and make their mark with an international career

Branch Director, Perth


MacCallum Johnson is a Research Officer at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre where she is the Assistant Editor of the flagship publication Centre of Gravity. She is currently in her final year of undergraduate study at The Australian National University pursuing a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Policy Studies. She is also involved with the Institute for Regional Security Future Strategic Leaders Program and Women in Law Organisation. She has previously interned with United Nations Development Programme in Bangkok, The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and UN Women National Committee Australia. She has represented Australia through delegate positions at the 2016 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, 2017 Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations and the 2018 Global Diplomatic Forum. MacCallum’s interests extend to Indo-Pacific economic development and regional security and she hopes combine these interests to pursue a career in national security and defence policy. 

Branch Director, Canberra


Isabella is the Branch Director of our Adelaide team. She is particularly interested in U.S. foreign policy, Latin American geopolitics,  and the social and political impact of emerging technologies. 


Isabella interned in Washington D.C. for the Office of Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, then the Democratic Representative for New Mexico’s first district. She has also spent time the South Australian Department of Premier & Cabinet and currently works in local government for the City of Mitcham. 


Isabella holds a Bachelor of International Relations & Bachelor of Languages from Flinders University and is currently undertaking a Master of Security and Strategic studies at Macquarie University. 

Branch Director, Adelaide


Katrina is a passionate public and foreign policy professional with over seven years’ experience in policy analysis, communications and

stakeholder engagement. Having honed her skills across diverse settings including the Australian Mission to the United Nations in New

York, United States Congress, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, and Queensland Parliament, she is currently employed as a

Government and International Affairs Advisor at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO). 

Katrina has been YAIA’s Chief Operations Officer for nearly four years, and is responsible for managing the organisation’s seven state

and territory branches.

Katrina is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the University of Sydney Business School where she is a

recipient of the David Anstice MBA Scholarship for Community Leadership. She is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of

Company Directors and holds a Master of International Relations and a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) from Griffith University.

Chief Operations Officer


John is Young Australians in International Affairs' Director of Administration.

Director, Administration


With a strong background in community-building, youth organisations and career-development, Kate has been actively involved with the Australia-China Youth Association (ACYA) in Beijing, first as Careers Director and later as Chapter President. She has a  passion for exploring diverse professional opportunities and sharing her experiences with fellow students and young professionals, particularly when it comes to the subjects of IR and Australia-Asia relations.


As a previous East Asia Fellow for Young Australians in International Affairs, Kate has a strong interest in East Asia and the interplay between history, culture and security. She completed her bachelor's degree (with Honours) at the University of New South Wales in Sydney and has recently graduated from China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing. Alongside her studies, Kate has completed numerous internships in Australia, China and South Korea and is continuing to explore further opportunities in the region.

Director, Careers


Elliott is Young Australians in International Affairs' Publications Director.

Director, Publications


Elena is a lawyer and is currently completing a Masters in International Relations at the London School of Economics. Elena joins Young Australians in International Affairs after having completed her tenure as Europe and Eurasia Fellow in 2017. Elena holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from The University of Adelaide.


Elena’s passion for French language and culture prompted her to complete her honours thesis on the impacts of the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks on French national identity. Her core research interests are European identity politics and conflict in the Middle East. During her studies, Elena taught French at the Alliance Française and at the University of Adelaide. Elena has completed an exchange at Sciences Po Paris and is currently learning Arabic.

Director, Strategy, People and Culture


Samantha is Young Australians in International Affairs' Sydney Branch Director.

Branch Director, Sydney


Thomas is a final semester Arts and Laws student (Extended Major Peace and Conflict Studies,Minor French) at The University of Queensland. Having recently returned to Brisbane from 10 months studying and interning abroad in Malaysia and Singapore, he hopes to complete further research into the Malaysian setting following the countries recent historic elections.

Complementing this role, Thomas was a New Colombo Plan Alumni Ambassador for the University of Queensland in which he promoted Indo-Pacific study and work options on campus. Previous not for profit experience includes work with Oxfam Australia, The Legacy Club of

Brisbane and Australian War Widows Queensland.

Branch Director, Brisbane


Jared is Young Australians in International Affairs' Branch Director in Darwin.

Branch Director, Darwin



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