Our Team

The AYLI Team

Rachel Dobric

Rachel Dobric, Executive Director

CONTACT - rachel@ayli.org.nz | 021 068 1230

Born and raised in South Auckland, Rachel has worked for a range of organisations - including Ara Taiohi, 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, and on the Management Committee of the Dalmatian Cultural Society in Auckland.

Eleanor Parkes

Eleanor Parkes, Fellowship Mentor

Eleanor has a background in international relations and human development - her MA in Development Studies focused on disaster risk mitigation in Pacific Island communities. Currently she is working with Youthtown to support youth councils in South Auckland, and is teaching social practice in Henderson.

As an advocate for human rights, Eleanor sits on the board of ECPAT Child Alert, and she worked as a campaign coordinator for Amnesty International NZ. She is passionate about the environment and strongly believes in the interconnectedness of human rights and environmental protection, leading her to complete an environmental internship in China and to lead AYLI's 2016 delegation to the UN Environment Assembly.

Eleanor enjoyed working in experiential education throughout Southeast Asia; when she returned to New Zealand she began running dance classes for young people from refugee backgrounds.

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Sedef Duder-Özyurt, Marketing Leader

Sedef is an AYLI alum from our delegation to COP23 in Bonn, and third year student at Victoria University studying Environmental Science. With a particular interest in civics education, she is a founding member of student led organisation Active Citizenship Aotearoa and was the Campaign Manager for the Virgin Voter Collective. Sedef has always been passionate about being around nature and protecting it, taking part in a Sir Peter Blake Trust expedition to the Sub Antarctic and sailing to Turkey with the Australian Navy. Sedef is thrilled to be a part of the AYLI team to integrate her experience in comms and marketing with her passion for the bolstering of emerging Kiwi leaders. Looking to the future, she intends to continue to serve those around her and the planet as well as she can, working in global governance or climate change negotiations. 

Our Trustees

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!

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.

Hayden Montgomerie

Hayden Montgomerie
Deputy Chair

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. 

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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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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.