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.
Chief Executive Officer
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.
Director, Partnerships and External Affairs
Philip is the Partnerships Directors at Young Australians in International Affairs. He is a former federal government adviser to former foreign minister the Hon Julie Bishop. A position which saw him undertake a broad range political and policy portfolio responsibilities.
Philip recently concluded a year working as the aide to the Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom in London. The position required him to develop and foster relationships with Australian and UK businesses, think-tanks and government bodies on behalf of the High Commissioner and Post.
He is a contributor to the Sydney Morning Herald and Foreign Policy (US) on government, national security and foreign affairs matters.
Anet is the Publications Director for the Young Australians in International Affairs. She graduated in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Politics & International Studies with first class honours, and a Diploma of Languages in German from the University of Melbourne. She is currently pursuing her Master of International Relations.
Anet first joined YAIA in 2020 as the Middle East and North Africa Fellow. Previously she was also the Senior Correspondent at the Young Diplomats Society, prior to which she was the Sub-Saharan Africa Correspondent.
She has interned with the Australian Institute of International Affairs Victoria and the Parliament of Victoria. She currently works for the University of Melbourne, and in 2022, she will be joining the Department of Premier and Cabinet as a graduate.
Director, Digital Events
Fiona is the Digital Events Director of Young Australians in International Affairs. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of International Relations and a Bachelor of Arts, which encompass a double major in Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies, and Spanish Language Studies.
Fiona is enthusiastic to be working with YAIA because of its commitment to affording young Australians with an instrumental platform to mobilise their unique, innovative perspectives.
Chief Financial Officer
Ashleigh is Young Australians in International Affairs' Chief Financial Officer.
Chief Operations Officer
Kate is the Chief Operations Officer at Young Australians in International Affairs and an academic at La Trobe University and the University of Melbourne. Teaching and researching International Relations, her research expertise includes China, Australia, the Pacific Islands, the US, security, gender and outer space. Her thesis examines changing geopolitics in the Southwest Pacific, using critical and great power theories.
She has written for the Lowy Institute, China Story at the ANU, Crikey, Perth US Asia Centre and the Australian Institute of International Affairs. Interviewed by the Age, Nine Network News and Channel 31 on issues such as higher education and Australia-China relations.
Kate holds a Master of International Relations (International Security) from the University of Melbourne, Bachelor of International Relations (Asian Studies) from La Trobe University and has studied at Chongqing University in China.
Alexandra is the Communications Director at Young Australians in International Affairs and a Policy Graduate in the Australian Public Service.
Alex holds an MSc International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Here 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 professional background in international relations, research, social media and digital communications. She has experience working in Australia and overseas, not-for-profit organisations, a think tank, and in government settings.
Lauren is the Careers Director for Young Australians in International Affairs. She joined the Careers portfolio in 2019 and enjoys playing a role in equipping young Australians with the skills and resources to pursue their chosen career path. Lauren is a Master of Philosophy candidate in French Studies at the University of Adelaide. Her thesis explores how the fictional works of contemporary French authors offer commentary on France’s socio-political climate.
Lauren’s professional experience spans across the public service, academia, and not-for-profit organisations. Currently working in diplomatic relations in the Government of South Australia, she has had the opportunity to showcase and continue developing her skill set in research, writing, and international relations. Lauren is a former South Australian Youth Parliamentarian and an alumna of DFAT's Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program. She speaks English and French, and is currently learning Indonesian and Mandarin.
Director, Strategy, People and Culture
Bayan is the People and Culture Director at Young Australians in International Affairs. He joined YAIA as a Careers Officer in 2020 with an academic background in psychology, foreign languages, and international relations. He is currently studying an MBA at the University of Adelaide focusing on international trade and development – a field he works in. He maintains strong interests in climate change adaptation, multicultural community cohesion and Asia-Australia relations.
Born in Iran and having grown up in Adelaide, Bayan’s bicultural identity, Baha’i spiritual beliefs and multilingualism sparked his curiosity for international affairs. His experience extends across several universities and not-for-profit organisations throughout the Indo-Pacific. He is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and New Colombo Plan alumnus looking to take his international expertise into the private or public sector to help businesses and governments navigate global challenges.