John McKinnon QSO, Executive Director
John McKinnon has been a diplomat and government official for most of his working life. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1974, and was posted to China in 1978. He was then assigned to the Asian Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) before subsequent postings to Washington, Canberra and New York.
In 1995, John moved to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet before being appointed New Zealand’s ambassador to China and Mongolia. He was in Beijing from 2001 to 2004. After returning to New Zealand he became a deputy secretary at MFAT. He took up the position of secretary of defence and chief executive of the Ministry of Defence in 2006.
Adele Mason, Deputy Executive Director
Adele joined the Foundation in a management role and later became deputy executive director. Previously, she worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, with postings in Moscow, Brussels, New York and Singapore (with accreditation responsibilities to Sri Lanka and the Maldives). Adele has also lived and worked in Hong Kong. She manages the corporate and governance responsibilities, and takes a coordinating role across programmes and oversight of the Foundation's Leadership Network.
Jennifer King MNZM, Director Culture
Jennifer oversees the Foundation's culture programme, including the Lantern Festivals in Auckland and Christchurch, and the Diwali Festival of Lights in Auckland and Wellington. Prior to joining the Foundation, Jennifer worked as a journalist in Hong Kong, China and Australia. She has an MA (Hons) from the University of Canterbury. In June 2011, Jennifer was awarded Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the Asian community.
John Saunders, Director Communications
John oversees the Foundation's digital and traditional marketing communications responsibilities. John has previously worked in radio, television and marketing communications management roles in both the private and public sectors in Britain and New Zealand.
Dr Andrew Butcher, Director Research
Andrew joined the Foundation in 2006 and directs its research and Track II diplomacy programmes. In 2011, he was a visiting fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, in 2012 a Teaching Fellow in the Political Science and International Relations programme at Victoria University of Wellington and in 2013 selected for the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program in the USA. He holds degrees in history and criminology from Victoria University of Wellington and a PhD in sociology from Massey University. Andrew is a member of the Royal Society of New Zealand and the International Institute for Strategic Studies and is the author of more than 30 articles, reports and book chapters.
Rebecca Palmer, Media Adviser
Prior to joining the Foundation, Rebecca worked at The Dominion Post where she was a feature writer and a reporter. While at Fairfax, Rebecca undertook work placements at the Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo and the Shanghai Daily in China, both supported by the Foundation. Before taking up journalism, Rebecca was a teaching fellow in Chinese at the University of Otago.
Paula Travaglia, Website Content Manager
Paula joined the Foundation in August 2011 and oversees the digital marketing communications responsibilities. She has worked as a website editor in the public sector, and previously worked as a sub-editor at The Dominion Post.
Melanie Crawford, Leadership Network Coordinator
Melanie’s interest in Asia was established after several years working and travelling around the region. She joined the Foundation in 2005 as a project coordinator, working on a variety of projects and events. In October 2007, she took on the role of Leadership Network coordinator. She has a BA in politics, theatre and film from Victoria University of Wellington.
Brenda Matangi-Bell, Schools Coordinator
Brenda joined the Foundation in March 2012. She has a BA in French and education, and postgraduate diplomas in international management and TESOL. She has taught in secondary and tertiary institutes in Japan, Britain and New Zealand. Brenda’s previous post was ESOL team leader at Wellington Institute of Technology. Currently Brenda is on parental leave.
Monica Turner, Project Officer Culture
Monica's interest in Asia began after she travelled to India in 2002. She then spent several years living and travelling in Asia. Monica joined the Foundation as project officer culture in 2007. Her professional background is in event management and she holds a BA from Victoria University of Wellington.
Paula McLaughlin, Executive Assistant
Paula provides assistance to the executive director and the chairman. She has been with the Foundation since 2003. She is a management team member of the Professional Assistants to Chief Executive organisation. As an AFS exchange student, Paula spent a year living in Malaysia – an experience that had a significant impact on her life.
Elizabeth Basalaj, Administration Assistant
Liz covers the reception at the Foundation as well as accounts payable and receivable and general administration. Prior to joining the Foundation in September 2013, Liz worked in secretarial and accounts roles in between bringing up two sons.
Sunita Soma, Accountant
Sunita joined the Foundation in 2007 in the role of part-time accountant. She has a BA in commerce from Victoria University of Wellington, and has previously worked in Australia and England across both the private and public sectors.
Anna-Marie Luke, Project Officer
Anna studied at the University of Otago, completing a BSc (Physiology) and BA (Hons Chinese studies). She also participated in a university exchange programme in Dalian, China. Anna is a member of the Leadership Network and speaks fluent Mandarin and Thai. She grew up in Singapore, has travelled extensively in Asia and has been involved in volunteer projects in Nepal and China.
Emma Ashley, Administrative Assistant (Research)
Emma studied at the University of Canterbury completing a BCom majoring in International Business and Market Strategy. She recently spent five months in Jakarta, Indonesia working for Habitat for Humanity assisting the Capital Campaign Director. She joined the Foundation in August 2013.
Sean O'Connor, Schools Coordinator
Sean joined the Foundation in July 2014 on secondment from Wellington High School. He is an economics, business and social studies teacher who has experience organising school cultural exchanges in Asia. Sean began his association with the Foundation as a participant in the 2013 Business Studies Forum in Shanghai and will be the Wellington-based schools coordinator while Brenda Bell is on parental leave.
Jeff Johnstone, Director Education
Jeff joined the Foundation in August 2013 after five years as principal of Willow Park School in Auckland. He has previously worked for the Education Review Office as well as schools in New Zealand, China and the UK. Jeff has a Masters in Educational Administration from Massey University. He is passionate about learning and leadership that equips young New Zealanders to thrive in the Asian Century.
James Penn, Director Business
James joined the Foundation in 2008 as Director Business in Auckland. He has a BA in political studies from the University of Otago and a Master of Management in International Business from Massey University. He has worked for the Japan External Trade Organisation as trade and investment promotion manager, and at the Consulate-General of Japan as public relations officer.
Liyang Ma, Auckland Office Manager
Liyang arrived in New Zealand in 2003 from Urumqi, Xinjiang, a city in northwest China. She holds a BA in communications studies from Auckland University of Technology. Before joining the Foundation, she worked as advertising sales co-ordinator at ACP Media in Auckland. After a year in our Wellington office working in the culture programme, Liyang is now back in Auckland as our Auckland office manager.
Adam McConnochie, Project Manager, ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative
Adam has a MA in history from Victoria University, where he specialised in Indian politics, and a BA (Hons) from the University of Canterbury. Before joining the Foundation, Adam worked in the public service in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
Yasheeka Bertram, Schools Coordinator
Yasheeka is a foodie and comes to the Foundation from a teaching background. She has previously completed a Bachelor of Arts (with honours) in Education from the University of Auckland and a post graduate diploma in Teaching. Yasheeka has been a secondary school teacher for six years and specialised in teaching Social Sciences and Health. Her interest in Asia began when she started studying Japanese at school and attended a class trip to Japan.