Meet the People Who Make Things Happen


Amb. John Berry (Ret.)


    Amb. Berry joined the American Australian Association as President in 2016. He came to the job well prepared after serving as the 25th US Ambassador and President Obama’s personal representative to Australia. Prior to that, John served in multiple senior government positions, earning three unanimous Senate confirmations, including: the head of “HR” for the Federal government as Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the “COO” of the Department of Interior as Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget; the head of 40% of Federal law enforcement as Acting Assistant Secretary for Enforcement at the Treasury Department; and Legislative Director for Rep. Steny Hoyer.

John has also been a leader in the non-profit sector, serving as the Director of the Smithsonian National Zoo; The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Government Relations for the Smithsonian Institution. John has accomplished many firsts, most notably, the first openly LGBT US Ambassador to a G20 country and while at OPM, he was the highest ranking LGBT executive official in US history. He has stood atop both poles – north and south, visited all of the world’s continents, as well as all of the states of both the USA and Australia. His most favorite recognitions of the many received have been the Department of the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award, a lion named “John” in his honor and a mountain in Antarctica called the “Berry Bastion.” He is married to his partner of over 25 years, Curtis Yee.

Craig E. Chapman Esq.

American Australian Association, Inc.

      Craig Chapman serves as Chairman of the American Australian Association, Inc. He has been a member of the Association since 1984, on the Association’s Board of Directors since 2002 and on the Board’s Executive Committee since 2003. Born and raised in Connecticut, Craig’s first association with Australia was living with an Australian family in the Sydney suburb of Castle Cove and attending North Sydney Boys High School as an American Field Service exchange student in 1971. After completing law school at Case Western Reserve University in 1980, Craig started his career as a lawyer with Dawson Waldron, then one of Sydney, Australia’s top four law firms, where he worked for three years on a variety of corporate, M&A and other transactional matters and met his wife, Susan Manton. Susan was born and raised in the Sydney suburb of Strathfield. Craig’s 40-year marriage to Susan constitutes his longest lasting and personally most rewarding “American Australian Association”. They have two daughters, Jane and Louise, both of whom are dual citizens, and three granddaughters, Sophie, Georgina and Beatrice. On December 31, 2022, Craig retired as a partner in the New York office of Sidley Austin LLP. Sidley is a global law firm with more than 2,000 lawyers in 21 offices around the world, including an office in Sydney, Australia. Craig joined Sidley (starting at the predecessor firm Brown & Wood) upon returning to the United States from Australia in 1983. Craig opened and served as head of Sidley’s Tokyo office from 1992 to 1995 and served as head of the Capital Markets practice in Sidley’s London office from 2006 to 2009. At Sidley, among other things, Craig served as co-chair of its Global Capital Markets practice and co-chair of its Opinion Committee. One of Craig’s primary areas of focus at Sidley was representing Australian issuers and underwriters of Australian issuers (including Australia’s major banking and other financial institutions) on U.S. securities offerings and other transactions.

Lily Balatincz

Chief Operating Officer

      Lily Balatincz is an accomplished leader with a strong history the nonprofit and arts sectors, having worked as a Director, Producer, and Actor in both the US and Australia. Lily is a graduate of UNSW in Sydney and NYU Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Acting MFA program in New York. Her performance achievements include receiving the 2017 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play in Washington DC and performing a lead role in the 2023 production of Amadeus in the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall for their 50th Anniversary celebration. As a Producer and Director, she has worked with organizations including Andrew Denton’s Film and Television production company Zapruder’s Other Films, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Casula Powerhouse, Arts House Melbourne, Sydney Festival, Art Gallery of NSW, City of Melbourne, New York University, Creative Australia, Create NSW, Creative Victoria, Taipei Performing Arts Centre and the Japan Foundation. Lily was a 2012 recipient of the American Australian Association Dame Joan Sutherland Fund, has served as an Expert Reviewer of the AAA’s Arts Fund since 2017, was a speaker at the 2018 Arts Gala, and has been a regular attendee at AAA events in both the US and Australia. As such, the organization and its work are very close to her heart and mirror her own experience of working across her two home countries, Australia and America.

Erin Gray

SVP of Business Engagement & Development

      Erin joined the American Australian Association in October of 2020 as SVP Business Engagement, Partnerships & Development. Erin oversees the AAA Business Council, strategic partnerships and leads corporate sponsorship and fundraising efforts. Previously Erin ran the G’Day USA program under the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and will continue to oversee the G’Day program as it transitions to fall under the umbrella of the AAA. Erin is based in Los Angeles, CA.

Laura Leventhal

VP of Business Partnerships & Brand

      Laura Leventhal joined the American Australian Association as Director of Partnerships, Programs & Brand where she oversees strategic partnerships, The Business Council, and AAA Programming and events. Laura is an experienced marketer and relationship builder with a background in traditional, experiential, and digital. Laura previously managed Production & Communications for the G'Day USA Program. Laura brings expertise from a variety of sectors including Entertainment, Non-Profit, and Government. Laura is based in Los Angeles.

Rollette Lusanta

Director of Technology

      Rollette joined the Association in July of 2010. His responsibility includes managing Technology Infrastructure of the Association as well as the office vendors, company insurance and benefits. Rollette is also responsible for managing the Association’s Student Exchange Visitors Program of the Department of State. He has held multiple backup roles inside the Association, such as Events, Finance, Operations and Education programs and has been very flexible in helping out the Team. Before joining the Association, he worked as a Systems Manager, managing the IT system of the company's multiple sites in the US and in the Philippines. Rollette has a Bachelor's degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

Mike Leahy

Director of Finance

      Mike manages the finance function of the American Australian Association. He joined the association in 2023, moving from Melbourne to New York. Mike previously worked in public practice accounting, helping clients achieve their business goals..

Eddie Grey

Director of Murdoch Center & Events

      Eddie comes to the American Australian Association from the world of entertainment; both as an actor and a producer/educator. Eddie holds a BA from the West Australia Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), where he studied musical theatre. He went on to produce independent theatre in Sydney and Melbourne, taught extensively at NIDA and also appeared in main-stage musicals incl. Wicked, The Book of Mormon, Spring Awakening. Since moving to the US, he has appeared in two Broadway shows and is now thrilled to starting this new chapter with the Association, leading and growing their event calendar and managing the state-of-the-art Murdoch Center in Midtown Manhattan.

Louisa Teo

Regional Director, New England

      Based in Cambridge, MA, Louisa Teo oversees the American Australian Association's programs in New England, including the ANZAC Day commemorative service and reception and the Association's annual Boston dinner. She is a graduate of the Boston University Questrom School of Business and Sydney University. She joined the American Australian Association in 2008 and since 2015 has also served as Secretary of the Australian Universities & Schools USA Foundation.

Richard Burrows

Director of Education

      Richard is the Director of Education and oversees the American Australian Association’s Graduate, Veterans, and Arts Fund Scholarship programs from our New York Office. He is focused on fostering and advancing strategic connections with U.S and Australian education, industry, and non-profit stakeholders, improving both the scope and provision of support for scholars, as well as cultivating robust community ties with our AAA alumni. Richard holds a master’s in International Education, concentrating on the significance of traditional and contemporary philosophical identity dynamics in intercultural learning. He has a wealth of global experience within the field encompassing an extensive range of teaching, management, and consultancy positions across countries including South Korea, China, the UK, and Australia.

Maddy Warrell

Events & Scheduling Associate

Maddy Warrell is our Events & Scheduling Associate and Executive Assistant to the President of the Association, Amb (Ret.) John Berry. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Maddy's journey led her to New York, where she pursued her education at Barnard College of Columbia University, graduating with a major in Political Science and minors in English and Economics. Maddy's professional experience has been predominantly in the Entertainment industry, working in Production for esteemed companies like A24 and Apple TV, as well as contributing to Development at Ron Howard's renowned companies, Imagine Impact and Imagine Documentaries. With a flair for writing, Maddy actively engages in content creation for the Association's subsidiary, AWNY, while also being an integral part of their social media team.

Emily Britt

Education, Events & Scheduling Associate

Emily Britt is our Education, Events & Scheduling Associate and Executive Assistant to the President of the Association, Amb (Ret.) John Berry. Emily moved to New York with her family from Christchurch, New Zealand in 2014 to pursue a career in performing. She received a BFA in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University and was one of the youngest contestants to be selected for the top ten in the social media competition ‘The Search for Roxie’ for CHICAGO The Musical on Broadway. Emily is excited to branch out and advance her professional career, in a role that connects her with her ‘Down Under’ community.


Ian Irving

Chief Executive Officer

Ian Irving is a well known and high-profile Australian Defence & National Security Industry senior executive. Ian has more than 35 years’ experience at senior executive levels within the Australian defence and aerospace industry, and is the Managing Director of ALTILUS Pty Limited. In January 2024 Ian was appointed as the CEO of the American Australian Association (AAA) Ltd in Australia, a highly visible, not-for-profit organisation established to foster and strengthen the bilateral relationship between the United States and Australia, promoting collaboration, research, and educational exchange. Ian holds responsibility for developing and implementing an ambitious program of growth and driving the overall strategy for the AAA Ltd. In 2011 Ian established ALTILUS Pty Limited, a top tier management and professional services agency serving the government and the defence sector, where he now holds responsibility as an External Board Member for the conduct of life-cycle Independent Assurance Reviews for Australia’s Department of Defence, on Australia’s major defence acquisition and sustainment programmes. In 2019 Ian was appointed as the Chief Executive of the Naval Shipbuilding Institute, responsible for the delivery of Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding College central to the establishment of Australia’s shipbuilding workforce. Prior to that Ian was Chief Executive for Northrop Grumman Australia, with responsibility for leading the development of Northrop Grumman within Australia, taking the company from its inception to become one of the major contributors to Australia’s national security capabilities. Ian has also held responsibility as Vice President, Land Systems and deputy Chief Executive Officer at Thales Australia, where he held various leadership positions over a period spanning twelve years, including responsibility for the management of Australia’s armaments and munitions factories, and the development of Australia’s local protected military vehicle capability. This was preceded by eleven years with Rockwell and Boeing Australia. Over the last three decades Ian has held senior positions within industry across many of Australia’s major land, sea, air and space defence procurement and sustainment programmes. This has included responsibility for the delivery of major defence systems, the conduct of leading-edge research and development, and the establishment of industrial capabilities delivering key defence exports for Australia. Ian is an Honours graduate in Electrical Engineering from Sydney University, and has held prior responsibility as the Chair of the peak Australian defence industry body, the Australian Industry Group (AiG) - Defence National Executive Council. Ian has also served as a South Australian Governor of the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia, a non-executive director of the Williams Foundation, and is a current board member of the Pecan Growers’ Co-Operative of Australia.

Leila Smith


Leila Smith is a Wiradjuri woman with over 18 years’ experience in supporting organizational change and policy reform in the not-for-profit sector, professional services, research, and academia. As a highly effective people-leader she has both roll-up-your-sleeves and strategic expertise across education, health, social services, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs. She is the CEO of the Aurora Education Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that supports Indigenous students to realize their full education and employment potential. Prior to Aurora, Leila led the Knowledge Translation team at Australia’s national Indigenous health research organization, the Lowitja Institute. She was also one of the first Indigenous Australians to join a major management consulting firm, Nous Group where she specialized in federal government strategy and change projects for three years. Prior to working in the private sector, Leila completed a Masters of Public Policy at Cambridge University, after leading the Policy and Programs team at the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association and working in data analysis and research roles at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. She also led the establishment of the first National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Data Archive and co-authored books and publications at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

Debbie Chappel

Executive Director, Business & Strategy Australia

      Debbie is the Australian-based Executive Director, Business & Strategy Australia for the American Australian Association. In this role, Debbie is responsible for formulating Australian strategy, developing business networks, fundraising and delivering a national program of events, including an Australian based alumni program and network for current and past scholars of the Association. Prior to assuming her current role, Debbie was based in New York, where she served as the Association’s Chief Operating Officer, with responsibility for the Association’s US fundraising, development and education scholarship programs, as well as operations management. Earlier in her career, Debbie lived and worked in Australia and the Russian Federation, holding a variety of positions in government and the offices of senior Australian Cabinet Ministers, including the Federal Treasurer and the Minister for Foreign Affairs.  She also worked as a consultant with Austrade in Moscow.

Libbi Swan

National Director, Programmes & Philanthropy

Libbi is the National Director of Programmes & Philanthropy in Australia where she is responsible for fundraising efforts nationally. Prior to this she was Chief Operating Officer of the Association in the New York Office, overseeing operations of the organization, along with the Arts and Education pillars. Before joining the Association, Libbi worked across a variety of sectors including arts, law, communications, non-profit and government and has previously held positions at Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), Foundation Theatres Sydney and within the Australian Government. Libbi holds a Bachelor of Laws / Bachelor of Media & Communication from the Queensland University of Technology and a Bachelor of Musical Theatre from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.