Parliament House


Young Australians in International Affairs is run by a team of dedicated volunteers. Details about our leadership team are below.

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


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Chief Executive Officer


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

In 2021 she was presented with an Australian Leadership Award by the ADC Forum, and in 2020 was presented with a medal by H.E. General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. She 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 previously worked for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Prior to joining DFAT, she had a number of roles in the private sector and at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. She was previously a non-resident WSD-Handa Fellow and a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Pacific Forum.

She holds a Master of Arts (International Studies), a Graduate Diploma (International Studies), Bachelor of Arts (Politics and Asian Studies) and a Bachelor of International Studies from the University of Adelaide. She studied abroad in China and the Netherlands.

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Chief Financial Officer


Alana is the Chief Financial Officer for Young Australians in International Affairs. Having completed a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Asia-Pacific Studies from the Australian National University, Alana was heavily involved in international affairs through numerous volunteering roles and internships alongside her studies.


She spent significant time studying abroad, notably at Peking University (China) and Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana (Indonesia) with a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant. During 2015, she worked as a Business Analyst at a global record label in China to further develop her Mandarin Chinese professional fluency and support Australia-China relations.

In commencing her career through the Deloitte Tax & Legal Graduate program, Alana worked in Private Tax & Advisory supporting high net worth individuals, families and businesses from both Australia and overseas. During this tenure, she was part of the National Chinese Services Group, assisting with business development and key translation pieces, such as 2021-22 Federal Budget and client slide decks. Alana currently advises to a private Family Office whilst completing her Chartered Accountant (CA) studies.

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Director, Publications


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.

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Director, Careers


Kate is the Careers Director at Young Australians in International Affairs. Kate aims for the portfolio to be the premier port of call for all students and early-career starters establishing themselves in the international field.

Kate is currently a Senior Advisor in the Victorian Government’s COVID-19 response and has previously worked as a South and Southeast Asia Advisor in the Department of Premier and Cabinet. She is an alumna of the Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program.

Kate holds a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Human Geography, and an Advanced Graduate Certificate in International Relations.






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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.

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Chief Operations Officer


Kate is the Chief Operations Officer at Young Australians in International Affairs and a Research Officer at La Trobe Asia. 

Her research areas include Australia, China, the Pacific Islands and the United States. Her focus is on security, geopolitics, international relations theory, climate change, gender and sexuality. Kate’s work has been published in The Conversation, Crikey, Lowy Institute Interpreter, China Story Blog, 9Dash Line, ABC News and Junkee.

Passionate about increasing diversity in international relations, she has managed youth programs with the U.S. Embassy Canberra, La Trobe University, Young Australians in International Affairs, La Trobe Asia, and the Australian Institute of International Affairs.

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.


Director, Partnerships and External Affairs


Janka is the Partnerships Director at Young Australians in International Affairs. She is currently studying a Vertical Double Degree at the Australian National University in Canberra and will graduate in 2023 with both a Bachelor of Political Science and a Master of International Relations. Originating from Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region, Janka was inspired to pursue a career in International Affairs after she attended a commemorative study tour in Singapore in 2017 where she had the opportunity to visit the Australian Embassy and meet with the diplomatic officials.

Within her coursework, Janka is particularly interested in the disciplinary limits of ‘what counts’ as International Affairs and has analysed the significance of ‘invisible’ international actors and agency.


She is excited to be a part of the YAIA team as she is passionate about building opportunities for young Australians to be a leading voice in critical discussion about contemporary international issues.

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Director, Communications


Jonathan is the Communications Director at YAIA and manages communications for Australian entrepreneur Mark Bouris.


Currently (slowly) working towards completing his Bachelor of Arts studies at the University of Sydney, Jonathan brings diverse experiences across the not-for-profit, superannuation, and media sectors with him to his role at YAIA.


He fundamentally believes that Australia should play a bigger role on the world stage, and is excited to advance this mission at YAIA by enabling a new generation of leaders to build that bigger role.


Director, People and Culture


Angus is the People and Culture Director at Young Australians in International Affairs. He completed a Bachelor of Languages in 2021 and is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma of Languages at the Australian National University in Canberra. He is a passionate student of East Asian languages, culture, politics, and international relations, with a particular focus on Japan and China.


Angus’ interest in intercultural communication and international affairs was piqued by the opportunity to study Japanese in high school. He has since studied Japanese language and culture for over 10 years and has spent time living and working in Japan. He has also studied Mandarin for over 3 years and will begin formally studying Cantonese in 2022.


He is motivated by the aspiration of enhancing international dialogue, conflict resolution, and intercultural understanding and respect. As a life-long student of languages, Angus is passionate about language politics, linguistic preservation, and he also volunteers his time as an English language tutor to recently arrived immigrants.  Angus is thrilled to be a member of the YAIA team and hopes to contribute to its fantastic culture, and to represent and promote its mission.

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Future 21 Director


Michael is the Project Director of Future 21, YAIA's principal summit to be held in Canberra, in September 2022. He is currently working for the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

A New Colombo Plan alumni, Michael graduated valedictorian for his University of Melbourne Bachelor of Arts studies with a focus on politics, economics and Chinese language. He also holds a Diploma in Mandarin and Graduate Certificate in Public Administration.

With extensive experience in running events & programs for other international relations organisations, Michael is excited to bring his passion & experience to the development of the Future 21 program for 2022.