Asia Society Australia Team
Thomas Soem, Acting Chief Executive Officer
Thomas Soem is the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Asia Society Australia and responsible for driving our strategy to become Australia’s leading business and policy think-tank and membership organisation dedicated to Asia. He is also the Executive Director of the Sydney office and head of business development. He is contributing to a significant growth in new members, diversification of funding streams and expansion of our national footprint.
Previously, Thomas was the Head of International Research and Development at the University of Sydney. In this role, he managed international research and development projects for the University in Asia and gave strategic advice on international growth, funding opportunities and global partnerships, including in China, Vietnam and India. He secured funding for over 100 projects for the University from national and international agencies, including the Australian Government, the United Nations, the European Commission, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. He drafted University’s submissions to major government consultations including the Asian Century White Paper, and had representative roles with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and the Australia-Indonesia Centre. Prior to that, Thomas was International Programs Manager at the Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific, leading the institute’s executive education program with China.
Thomas is a graduate from the University of Oslo, Norway and the University of Sydney where he studied political science and languages with particular focus on multilateral cooperation and regional integration in Asia.
Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.
Richard Maude, Executive Director, Policy
Richard Maude is Executive Director of Policy at Asia Society Australia and a Senior Fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute.
He is a former senior Australian government official with 30 years’ experience in foreign policy and national security.
From 2018 to 2019, Mr Maude was Deputy Secretary, Indo-Pacific Group, in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Australia’s senior official to the East Asia Summit.
In 2017, Mr Maude was head of the whole-of-government taskforce which supported the preparation of the Australian Government’s 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.
Mr Maude was Director-General of the Office of National Assessments from May 2013 until November 2016. Before taking up this position, Mr Maude was the senior adviser on foreign policy and national security issues to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
He has served overseas in Malaysia, where he was Deputy High Commissioner, Singapore and as the Liaison Officer for the Office of National Assessments in the Australian Embassy in Washington DC.
Mr Maude is a member of the Futures Council of the National Security College at the Australian National University.
Nadia Auff, Director, Finance and Operations
Nadia is the Director, Finance and Operations at Asia Society and is responsible for the sound financial management, planning, reporting and business partnership within the organisation.
Nadia is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has held senior finance roles within the Health, Allied Health and NFP sectors where she has managed multi-disciplinary teams across Finance, HR, IT, Customer Service and Property. She has expertise in developing robust systems to protect the organisation from financial and non-financial risks and has driven performance improvements from both a commercial and compliance perspective.
Starting her career in smaller private sector health organisations and moving into the larger corporate sphere, her career development has enabled a practical, hands-on approach as well as broader strategic capabilities.
Her achievements include delivering major capital works projects across multiple states within budget and successfully implementing IT system upgrades and integrations.
With a commitment to providing operational excellence, Nadia supports her colleagues to achieve ASA’s goals and can bring about positive change through an inclusive and humanistic management style.
Guided by a passion for the environment, social justice and animal welfare, Nadia contributes to these regularly and volunteers as a committee member for a local homeless youth charity.
James Scullin, Director, Programs
James Scullin joined Asia Society Australia in June 2021. He is a program and project manager with experience developing diverse and tailored programs for Australian business with a focus on Asian business engagement, foreign policy, climate change and cultural awareness.
Prior to Asia Society, James was National Project Manager for the Australia China Business Council (ACBC). In this role, James developed and managed a multitude of projects, working with ACBC’s business membership and Federal and State Governments to foster greater understanding and business engagement with China. His project portfolio included high-level national China policy briefings, China-Australia Free Trade Agreement advocacy across regional Australia, market entry delegations to China, an Australia-China business podcast, and online business support camps.
James has also worked with trade and investment advisory firm TradeWorthy on Asia Development Bank research on Belt and Road integration in ASEAN countries. Previously, James lived and worked in Beijing as an environmental consultant on European Commission climate change and development projects. He also worked as a tour leader to North Korea and in 2020 self-published the photography book Hotels of Pyongyang.
James is a graduate of the University of Melbourne where he holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Environmental Policy. He speaks Chinese and German.
Andrew Deane, Associate Director, Development and Partnerships
Andrew Deane joined Asia Society Australia in January 2020. As Associate Director, Development and Partnerships, he is responsible for supporting existing members, attracting new members and investigating funding opportunities to support the Society’s mission for Australian leaders and community.
Andrew is passionate about understanding member values and interests, being the best way to identify opportunities for meaningful, long-term partnerships. His professional experience stems from 13 years in fundraising and relationship management in the tertiary education and not-for-profit arts sectors in Melbourne and Sydney, in addition to ten years of previous project management experience in Australia, Japan and China in education, research and legal services.
He holds a double degree in Economics (Economic History major) and Asian Studies (Japanese major) from the Australian National University and is currently doing a Master of Business, Arts and Cultural Management at Deakin University. He has spent six years living in both Japan and China, and has studied and speaks fluent Japanese, highly functional Chinese (Mandarin) and basic Indonesian. While at university, Andrew also performed in several of the ANU Japan Centre’s annual Kabuki performances, including a short tour to Nara and Kobe in 1999.
Given his interest in people, Andrew is also a Commonwealth registered marriage celebrant. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn.
Sarah Carr, Associate Director, Communications
Sarah Carr joined Asia Society Australia in September 2022. As the Associate Director of Communications, Sarah is responsible for external communication, marketing strategy, content development, production, and management of Asia Society Australia’s key communication platforms.
Beginning her career working in State politics as an Office Manager/Electorate Officer for a State Member of Parliament, Sarah then moved into the position of Communications, Media, and Policy Advisor for the Federal Speaker of the House from 2016-2018.
After leaving politics, she worked as a media and communications expert, in the healthcare sector, specifically aged care and mental health, applying her skills and political knowledge to support both organisations through several respective industry-related royal commissions. Sarah has most recently worked as the first Communications Manager for Harcourts Australia Group, leading the national communications and content production for the real estate company.
Sarah graduated from the Australian National University with a Bachelor of Arts (International Relations), in 2014, majoring in Political Science and History, with a minor in Bahasa Indonesia. During the COVID-19 pandemic, studied and completed a Graduate Diploma in Public Relations with Deakin University to further expand her knowledge and skillset, graduating at the beginning of April 2021.
Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn
Jaimie Dang, Finance and Operations Manager
Jaimie is the Finance and Operations Manager at Asia Society Australia. Together with her team colleagues, she is responsible for the delivery of the support functions of finance, human resource management, IT, procurement, records management and compliance. An integral part of this role is to provide leadership in the optimisation of resource and business planning including the organisation’s data management system.
Jaimie coordinates process automation and is part of the team responsible for transforming the organisation’s technology and transformation capabilities. Jaimie brings a strong background in office and financial administration management to Asia Society Australia and has worked across the private and not-for-profit sectors. She has an aptitude for leaning new applications and is an advocate of technology automation and strategic change.
Jaimie holds a Master in Professional Accounting. She is inspired daily by her husband and their daughter and is an aspiring yoga and pilates instructor in her free time.
Dominique Fraser, Research Associate, Asia Society Policy Institute
Dominique Fraser joined Asia Society Australia in October 2021. She supports the work of the Asia Society Policy Institute in Australia. Prior to this, Dominique worked as Researcher at the Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, completing research projects on Covid-19 related hate speech and atrocity prevention risk assessments.
Dominique worked in the field of atrocity prevention for five years in Geneva, gaining experience across research, advocacy, project management and communications at Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes (GAAMAC) and the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.
She completed a Master in International Affairs at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in 2017, following a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) in International Relations, from which she graduated as Valedictorian of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Queensland.
Majdina Widodo, Digital Content Producer
Majdina Widodo joined Asia Society Australia in January 2022. As Digital Content Producer, she is involved in the production of video, graphic, and social media content as well as designing physical collateral.
As a digital designer specialised in flat and motion design, she has previously worked with the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) to assist in producing and editing video content for the ‘Stop Beating Around The Bush’ project that aims to represent and inform minority groups about health in the rural health space.
Additionally, she has been involved in a government-funded project endorsed by RMIT aimed to commemorate Australian army nurses that was displayed in Federation Square in August 2022.
Chris Khatouki, Associate
Chris Khatouki joined Asia Society Australia in February 2021. He is a PhD Candidate at the University of New South Wales, where his research specialises in the political economy of state violence in East Asia. Prior to joining Asia Society, Chris worked in South Korea for the Gyeongsangnam-do Office of Education.
Chris is also a Councillor at the Australian Institute of International Affairs, NSW. As councillor, he has helped coordinate events and has expanded the institute’s outreach to younger audiences. He has been involved in a number of community initiatives, including founding the largest language exchange program in the Illawarra region, ‘The Language Exchange’.
Chris is passionate about understanding how societies in the Asia-Pacific can economically develop while also maintaining stable structures of political governance. In 2018, he completed his International Relations degree at the University of Wollongong, where his thesis was awarded first class honours and the University Medal for Academic Excellence.
Aster Haile, Programs and Research Officer
Aster Haile joined Asia Society Australia in November 2022 as a Program and Research Officer. Aster assists with the organisation’s Melbourne based programming, including the activation of the Asia Trade and Innovation Hub.
Aster graduated from RMIT University with a Bachelor of Arts (International Studies). During her studies, she was awarded a New Colombo Plan scholarship by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and undertook 18 months of study in Indonesia focused on regional security in Southeast Asia and international development. Aster is passionate about migration issues, having worked with Migrant CARE in Jakarta and written a thesis on the rights of labour migrants in Singapore.
Prior to working with Asia Society Australia, Aster was a Program and Engagement Manager for the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award – Victoria, expanding the reach of the world’s leading youth development program.
She is currently undertaking a Master of Development Studies at the University of Melbourne. Aster speaks fluent Indonesian, and intermediate Malay.
Greg Earl, Editor, Briefing MONTHLY
Greg Earl is the editor of Briefing MONTHLY - a public update with news and original analysis on Asia and Australia-Asia relations, and the essay series Disruptive Asia. Greg was the deputy editor, opinion editor, national affairs editor and Asia Pacific editor of The Australian Financial Review.
He spent more than a decade as a reporter based in Tokyo, Jakarta, and New York. He is now an independent writer, editor and consultant; is researching a book about Australia and Asia; and writes a column on economic diplomacy for The Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter. He is a member of the Australia-ASEAN Council board (AAC); and a former member of the Australian National University Indonesia Project advisory board; the Australia Japan Foundation board; and the steering committee for the Australia-Indonesia Dialogue.
His connection with the region began as a high school Indonesian language student and then as an exchange student in the Philippines. This year he has been a member of an international observer group during the Indian election; attended the Australia-Vietnam Young Leadership Dialogue in Ho Chi Minh City; and served on the selection panel for an AAC Muslim Exchange Program in South East Asia.