The Advance team is passionate about supporting global Australians, with collectively over five decades of experience working and studying overseas. Based in Australia and working remotely, Advance has team members in the ACT, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Most team members work part-time, collaborating across Advance projects to deliver the best outcomes for our members, partners and sponsors.


Chief Executive Officer

Johanna joined Advance in October 2019, and became CEO in March 2021. She is a recognised authority on talent and the changing workforce, and spent the formative years of her career overseas. With 20 years experience working across economic development, international trade and public policy, she has held senior roles in Federal and State government organisations in Australia, the UK and the US. In non-government roles, Johanna pioneered BlueChilli’s CityConnect accelerator for startups solving urban challenges, and was the Deputy CEO for the Committee for Sydney where she led advocacy for Sydney as a global talent hub. She holds a Masters in Regional Studies (East Asia) from Harvard University, and speaks Japanese and Korean. She is a long time member, having attended its launch in 2002 in New York, by then Consul General, Ken Allen AO.


Event Manager

Kathy has organised events and delivered projects in varying sectors for over 25 years. Her experience across communications, project management and private consulting have taken her from the healthcare industry, both public and private sectors, to corporate clients and schools. Her in-depth experience with project management led to event management in Australia and the UK, with Kathy organising networking functions, theatrical productions, art and literary festivals, and other community and fundraising events. Kathy holds a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) from Macquarie University, Clinical Pastoral Education (Basic & Advanced) at Royal North Shore Hospital, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration and Management at MGSM. Kathy has a keen interest in sustainability, particularly sustainable products and processes, seeking to significantly reduce impact wherever possible


Website UX/UI Designer / Program Coordinator

Sarah joined Advance in early 2020, and has two years of experience at both Advance and global start-up, Internet 2.0, in digital and website development, marketing and digital transformation. After successfully managing the 2021 Advance Awards selection process, Sarah now oversees all aspects of Advance’s digital platforms, and is the coordinator for Advance’s educational programs. Through her experience volunteering in various roles at her church, as a school chaplain at local primary schools, teaching ballet, and co-founding My Mate Dave Coffee, Sarah has excellent skills in communication, community engagement and entrepreneurship. Sarah holds Diplomas in Chaplaincy and Pastoral care, Leadership and Dance Performance and Choreography. Sarah received the High Achiever Meritorious Award for the International Baccalaureate in Design Technology, German and Dance.


Engagement Lead

Mandy is a senior project manager whose background includes working with large professional services firms, global financial institutions, and media companies in Sydney and London. With deep experience in the field of Learning & Development, Mandy designs and leads Advance’s educational programs, and manages engagement with key stakeholders and partners. Mandy has co-ordinated global partner conferences in Sydney, Singapore, London and Berlin and also organised numerous charitable events at the British PM’s office at 10 Downing Street. In addition she has managed a mentoring program for street children in East London and was the West London Branch Contact for the Motor Neurone Disease Association for 15 years. Mandy relocated to regional Victoria in 2020 after 18 years spent in London.


Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary

Michelle joined Advance in late 2019, and has led the streamlining of our global financial and accounting systems, resulting in significant cost savings, and increased financial accountability and transparency. Michelle has built deep finance and accounting experience over the last 25 years from working in KPMG’s CFO advisory practice, Commonwealth Bank Australia, Merrill Lynch London and Deutsche Bank London.  In these roles Michelle has worked with or within finance functions across various sectors, with a specialisation in deal structuring, leasing and technical accounting under IFRS.  Michelle provides CFO and accounting services to various clients, primarily not-for-profit entities, and is a partner at Nuwaru, a new and unique virtual accounting and tax firm. 


Manager, Research and Insights

Robert joined Advance in early 2020, supporting all aspects of Advance programming and content through his meticulous research skills and analytical nous. Robert curates Advance’s weekly job and event listings, leveraging his experience working with Spark Festival, and his deep knowledge of industry trends and the startup ecosystem. Robert compiles event briefings, authors commentary on diaspora-related topics, and undertakes detailed research on global Australians, industry issues and policies related to Advance. Robert holds a Bachelor of Design and Architecture from the University of Sydney and received the Blake Matthews Prize for Creative Writing in 2016.


Designer / Marketing Associate

Jessica joined Advance in 2022 as a Marketing Associate after completing the 2021 NextGen program. She is an invaluable member of the Advance team with her sophisticated design skills and strong understanding of marketing concepts and channels. Jessica has since transitioned into the role of designer, taking the lead on rebranding the Global Australian Awards. She also has been actively involved in designing graphics for Advance programs and events such as the Gala Dinner, Global Town Hall and CoffeeHour. Alongside her role at Advance, she also works at the Advertising Council Australia as a Membership and Events Coordinator.


Marketing Associate

Rikansha joined Advance in May 2023 as a Marketing Associate during her fourth and final year of university. As a Marketing Associate, her role is to utilise effective visual and written communication to create, schedule and post content via Advance’s social media channels. These channels include LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Rikansha also applies her skills in advertising to analyse data in order to optimise engagement with the community. Rikansha is currently studying at Western Sydney University doing a double degree and double major – Bachelor of Communications/Bachelor of Creative Industries and majoring in both Graphic Design and Advertising.


Project Lead

Ivani joined Advance in 2019 as Head of Community and was responsible for the upgrading and functionality of Advance’s most valuable asset, the Advance community database. Ivani now leads Advance’s two largest internal projects – the selection process for the Advance Awards, and the Annual Survey of Global Australians. She also provides ongoing support and guidance to other team members, applying her rigorous process and project management skills. She previously managed the Spark Festival program, and projects in Paraguay alongside UN agencies FAO and WHO, supporting policy and standards development for global industry, trade and public health. Ivani speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and Paraguayan Guaraní, and holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) from the National University of Asunción, and a Master of Science from UNSW, which she completed as a DFAT Australia Awards scholar.