Our People

The AYLI Team

Rachel Dobric

Rachel Dobric, Executive Director

Born and raised in South Auckland, Rachel has worked for a range of organisations - including the Human Rights CommissionTeach for All and the New Zealand Parliament.  She has strong knowledge of multilateral climate negotiations, having attended seven rounds of the UN climate negotiations with the New Zealand Youth Delegation (2009-2011 and 2016), with AYLI (2013), and independently (2014-2015).  In 2014 Rachel attended the pre-session to the climate negotiations in Lima in Venezuela on behalf of the UNFCCC's youth constituency (YOUNGO).  She also joined P3 Foundation's team to attend side-events to the Millennium Development Goals Summit in 2010.

Rachel is passionate about extending the opportunity to attend international conferences to all New Zealand youth, believing them to be both life-changing and invaluable leadership experience.  

In addition to her work for AYLI, Rachel currently sits on the Steering Committee of the New Zealand Youth Delegation, is a member of the Rock Enrol team, and is a member of the YOUNGO Bottomlining Team. 

Our Board

AYLI is a charitable trust, so we're governed by a board of trustees.  As a youth leadership organisation, we think it's really important to be led by young people - so we have a policy of making sure over half of our board members are under 30.  We'd love you to meet them!

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Jenny Chu, Board Chair

Jenny is a professional engineer and project manager experienced in major infrastructure project planning and delivery.  She has an extensive track record of operation and governance experience in NZ not-for-profit organisations focusing on youth, education, international development, NZ: Asia relations, and infrastructure.

Jenny's connection with AYLI has come via her involvement in YOUNGO - she went to the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen with the New Zealand Youth Delegation in 2009. This led to working in Shanghai for the NZTE/MFAT World Expo team where she built relationships over an intensive year with different parts of NZ Inc and civic, academic, intergovernmental, business and o governmental delegations from 200+ countries. Since returning to New Zealand, Jenny has continued to lead youth, business and governmental delegations to Asia for infrastructure and development related studies.

Jenny feels great personal satisfaction in involving in organisations making a difference throughthrough education programmes that expose New Zealand youth to complex economic, environmental and social and cultural issues we're grappling with in New Zealand and around the world, and provide a springboard for them to actions as leaders. 

Benj Brooking

Benj Brooking

Benj is one of AYLI's alumni. He was part of our delegation to COP20 in Lima, and led our team to COP21 in Paris - allowing him a unique and valuable perspective on AYLI's board.  You can read the story of how he got involved with AYLI here!

By day, Benj is an Auckland based filmmaker who loves the challenge of producing media that is both engaging and effective. He primarily works on educational and promotional material to inspire social change, but also creates music videos and short films. He believes that better media can help create a better world. In addition, Benj is involved with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network Youth and the New Zealand Red Cross.

Benj loves that AYLI brings together such a diverse range of amazing young Kiwis - from all over the country and from so many different interests and disciplines.

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Marianne Dutkiewicz

Marianne is a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand and Professional Associate at the East-West Center, Hawaii. She earned a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Canterbury and practiced in both employment and family law in New Zealand.

Playing a pivotal role in the EY/EWC Women Fast Forward: Asia-Pacific Consultation on Women’s Economic Empowerment for W20 input into G20 2017, Marianne is passionate about integrating her knowledge of law with opportunities to empower women. In early 2016, Marianne undertook East West Center sponsored research in Southeast Asia looking at women's rights in ASEAN.

Marianne was an integral member of the Student Volunteer Army, a movement that mobilized students following the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010–2011, and continues to be involved in initiatives that encourage youth to be community minded. 

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Aaron Hape

Aaron founded Commonwealth Youth New Zealand in 2014 to connect young Kiwis to amazing opportunities around the Commonwealth. He was CYNZ’s foundation Executive Director through to 2017 and is now a member of its Board. He was a member of the Commonwealth Observer Group for the 2015 Trinidad and Tobago Parliamentary elections.

In 2015, Aaron was named a New Zealander of the Year Local Hero medalist, and in 2017 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is a foundation Board Member and Advisory Panelist of the Queen's Young Leaders Programme. Aaron is of Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa descent.

Wendy Jackson

Wendy Jackson

Wendy Jackson, PhD is Project Manager – Programme Development with New Zealand’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA). Her role in the Authority is to facilitate and drive the initiation, design, and review of EECA programmes to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. She has been an environmental policy specialist for 18+ years; most of her work has been at the global level.

Through previous work (New Zealand Department of Conservation; New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; United Nations Environment ProgrammeInternational Institute for Sustainable Development; Environment Canada) she has led delegations to multilateral meetings on a wide range of environmental issues, such as: chemical and waste management; sustainable development; wildlife trade; natural and cultural heritage; migratory species; and traditional knowledge.

Having attended hundreds of these meetings and understanding the impact they have on domestic policy, Wendy is excited to be part of an organisation that is cultivating youth leadership through multilateral engagement.

Jess Merrick

Jessica Merrick

Jessica is passionate about inspiring a new generation of leaders - developing their abilities to think critically, engage meaningfully in social justice and give back to their communities - through AYLI's work.

Jessica brings to the AYLI team experience in university leadership, teaching and research. As an Associate Dean and Head of Hall, Jessica worked to create inclusive and dynamic communities for students to cultivate leadership, embrace diversity and pursue academic excellence. Teaching tertiary courses in Sociology, Gender Studies, Globalisation and Student Affairs in the U.S. and Australia afforded Jessica opportunities to develop a pedagogy which honours students’ experiences and challenges them to grow. Seeking to uncover how social inequalities are produced and disrupted, Jessica's investigated sociological issues such as gender in engineering, sexualities in retirement communities and queer social movement politics; as well as public health issues such as oral health in Australian mediasustainable community development and the oral health of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

Like some AYLI delegates, Jessica participated in Model United Nations as an undergraduate, and holds that leadership opportunities support young people to develop an invaluable skillset: a teamwork ethic, the tenacity to set and achieve goals and appreciation for diversity. She is keen to support young leaders to tackle the issues that matter most, effecting positive change in Aotearoa and beyond.

Hayden Montgomerie

Hayden Montgomerie

Hayden is experienced in leading young New Zealanders to build international connections. He was a founding member and National President (2001-03) of UN Youth New Zealand, leading five delegations to attend The Hague International Model United Nations (THIMUN). Hayden has also served as National President (2005-07) of the UN Association of New Zealand.

Hayden brings professional public sector experience in education and social development. He worked at the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO for seven years, before being appointed as National Youth Participation Advisor at the Ministry of Youth Development.

Hayden has participated in a diverse range of international youth opportunities including as delegate to the Commonwealth Youth Forum (2001), The Footsteps of Rewi Alley Tour (2013) and the Commonwealth Emerging Leaders Dialogues Asia (2016). Hayden is a Justice of the Peace, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of the Institute of Directors, and a member of the Asia New Zealand Leadership Network. Hayden recently completed a Master of Business Administration in Thailand, as a New Zealand Prime Minister's Scholar for Asia.