Parliament House

OUR EXECUTIVE

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

NATIONAL EXECUTIVE

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Chief Executive Officer

RENEE CREMER

Originally from the Sunshine Coast, Renee Cremer is a proud Yuin woman. She is currently a stay at home mum, living in outer regional Queensland and is very excited to be the new Chief Executive Officer. Renee is passionate about youth leadership and paving the way for future generations.

 

In 2021 Renee had the honour of representing Australian youth as Australia's first ever delegate to the G7 Youth Engagement Forum (Y7). She was also a Global Voices Scholar part of the delegation to the 2019 OECD Forum in Paris. During this time, she wrote a policy paper on improving engagement and integration outcomes for unskilled and underemployed female migrants living in regional and rural Australia.

 

Renee is a 2022 finalist in the 7News Young Achievers Awards First National Real Estate Leadership category. She is also a RedXYouth Activator with the Australian Red Cross, and received the Jewish Holocaust Museum Wilson Family Scholarship for her commitment to social sciences.

 

Renee graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Deakin University in 2021, completing a major in politics and policy studies and minors in international relations and criminology. She looks forward to developing a career in federal policy and international relations, hoping to inspire other young Indigenous women, and mothers especially, to pursue their passions with tenacity and dedication.

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Chief Financial Officer

ALANA KIRBY

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

ERIN TOOHEY

Erin is the Publications Director for the Young Australians in International Affairs. She graduated her Bachelor of Arts (International) from Monash University in 2020 with a First Class Honours in International Relations. Currently she is completing a Master of Diplomacy under the Ruth Dobson Scholarship at the Australian National University.

Erin has enjoyed working and studying abroad. She achieved top marks in her European Politics course at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, and supported grassroots education initiatives as a volunteer Project Officer at Third Story Project in Yangon.

Erin first joined YAIA in 2021 as Senior Policy Editor. She holds a particular passion for cyber governance and international co-operation on telecommunications.

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Director, Careers

KELSEY GRAY

Kelsey is the Careers Director at Young Australians in International Affairs. She first joined the Careers portfolio as an Officer in 2021. She completed a Bachelor of Laws/Science at the University of Newcastle, graduating as Valedictorian with the University Medal in 2021. Having started her career as a graduate lawyer, she now works at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet as an Advisor within the climate change team.

 

Kelsey’s passion for international affairs was sparked by an early adventure in her studies where she represented Australia as a Youth Delegate at COP23.  She went on to work across the Asia-Pacific region as a New Colombo Plan Scholar. She gained experience in diverse professional environments including the United Nations, academia, not-for-profits, public policy, all tiers of government, and commercial law. These positions shaped her cultural and professional competency, particularly within multilateral institutions.

 

Kelsey is excited to contribute to YAIA’s mission and to lead a career portfolio which empowers the next generation of leaders in international affairs.

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Director, Digital Events

FIONA BALLENTINE

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 CLAYTON

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.

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Director, Partnerships and External Affairs

JANKA REYNDERS

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

PHOEBE YOUNG

Phoebe is the Communications Director at Young Australians in International Affairs, responsible for overseeing the rollout of all things digital media. 

Having recently completed her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in International Relations and Politics & Policy Studies from Deakin University, she strives to develop her career in strategic policy design and analysis, focusing on the role that foreign policy, diplomacy and international engagement has to play in national security.

Phoebe participated as a Communications Officer with YAIA for 8 months before becoming Director, and has previously gained experience with the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) Victoria, and Women in Aid and Development as Social Media and Communications Intern.

 

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Director, People and Culture

ANGUS RUSSO

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 HESTER

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.

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