OUR EXECUTIVE

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.

NATIONAL EXECUTIVE

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.

Emily is the Deputy CEO at Young Australians in International Affairs. With a background in energy and climate change policy, Emily is a passionate public servant with experience across government, non-government organisations and international postings.

 

Currently, Emily represents the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment in the NSW Minister for Energy and Environment's Office, working across energy, climate change and sustainability policy issues. She has previously been an intern for the Australian Embassy in Stockholm, working on the Australian-Europe Free Trade Agreement and Australian relations with Sweden, Estonia, Finland and Latvia. Emily has also recently completed her 2 year term as a member of the United States Consul General's Youth Council.

 

Emily is currently completing a Master of Public Policy from the University of Sydney, where she is specialising in International Law. 

Serena is Young Australians in International Affairs' Publications Director. She has a professional background in academic blogging, online media sites and editing, having worked for the Australian National University's Southeast Asia blog, New Mandala and the student-led blog, The Monsoon Project.

Serena has an academic background in Asian studies, with a particular focus on media societies in Southeast Asia and the growth of digital technologies in the region, with a particular interest in Vietnam. 

Alongside her degree and not-for-profit work, Serena has volunteered for the College of Asia and the Pacific Students' Society and regularly plays music, having travelled to Japan to perform with a Japanese orchestra.

Director, Careers

KATE KALINOVA

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.

Kate is the Digital Events Director at Young Australians in International Affairs and an academic at La Trobe University and the University of Melbourne. Teaching International Relations, her research expertise includes China, Australia, the Pacific Islands, International Security, Gender and Outer Space Politics. Described as a part of the "next generation of U.S.-Australia alliance managers" by the US Embassy Canberra and the Perth USAsia Centre, she has a strong interest in the future of the Indo-Pacific region. Kate has been featured in The Age, written and interned for the Australian Institute of International Affairs and is involved with China Matters and Asia Society Australia.

 

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. 

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

Chief Operations Officer

KATRINA VAN DE VEN 

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.

Alexandra is the Communications Director at Young Australians in International Affairs and a Research Intern at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra.

 

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 an academic and professional background in international relations, digital communications and social media. She has experience in Australia and overseas, in research, not-for-profit organisations and government settings.

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.

Tony is currently in his final year of pursuing a Bachelor of International Security and Bachelor of Asian Studies at the Australian National University. Tony is currently working to uplift Cyber Security strategy and capabilities across the public and private sector. He has previously worked as a Policy Officer with the Australian Electoral Commission where he was involved in digital policy and implementation.

 

Tony is passionate about people with previous experience in the recruitment industry as well as NGOs such as Oaktree and World Vision. Tony is seeking to extend his experience across policy, projects and cyber security to his interest in international affairs through the position of Director of People and Culture to support the goal of Young Australians in International Affairs of connecting and empowering Australia's future leaders.

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

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