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Welcome Leila Smith: Newly Appointed Chair in Australia

The American Australian Association is pleased to announce the appointment of Leila Smith as the new Chair of American Australian Association Ltd in Australia. Leila’s appointment as Chair follows a longstanding partnership with the Association as the CEO of the Aurora Education Foundation.

In her own words, Leila shared that the “Aurora Education Foundation has worked with the American Australian Association for many years to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to study in the US.” In stepping into her role as Chair, Leila aims to build off the Association’s continued presence in foreign policy, business, defense, and the arts.

President of the Association in the US, and former United States Ambassador to Australia, John Berry conveyed “I am two parts grateful to Leila for accepting this critical position and tremendously excited to see how she carries our Association into its 75th year and beyond.”

With the departure of former chair, John Olsen AO, President John Berry thanked Olsen for his exemplary work in the role, “John has been instrumental to the growth of the organization in Australia and a champion of our mission. We wish him all the best in his retirement.” John Olsen led the charge in Australia as CEO from 2010 as Chairman and CEO from 2015, also establishing the Perth United States Asia Centre at the University of Western Australia in 2013. Prior to that, Mr Olsen spent almost 7 years in the United States, as Consul General in New York (2006-2009), and as Consul General in Los Angeles (2002-2006).

In addition, John pioneered G’day USA in 2004, a program that became the largest single annual foreign country promotion in the United States, now proudly run by the American Australian Association. The Association is deeply grateful for John Olsen’s work and Leila’s acceptance of the role. A Farewell & Welcome event in Sydney was generously hosted by Allens on Monday, February 27th. Craig Chapman, Chair of our Board in the US, attended the event and spoke, delivering a speech honoring John Olsen and welcoming Leila Smith. Afterwards, he praised the event as a “turning point that allowed us to celebrate all that we have accomplished with John Olsen, and all that is yet to come with Leila as our new Australia Chair. If the past 10 years are any indication, the Association has nothing but growth ahead.”

The guests included:

  • Former PM, The Hon John Howard OM AC
  • The Hon Madeleine King MP, Minister for Resources and Minister for Northern Australia
  • Christine Elder, US Consul General
  • The Hon Steven Marshall, Former Premier of South Australia
  • The Hon Julie Bishop, Chancellor of ANU
  • Peter Varghese, Chancellor of UQ
  • Rear Admiral Lee Goddard CSC
  • Members from the AAA Inc and AAA Ltd Board
  • Craig Chapman, Chair of Association Board in the United States
  • Jennifer Nason
  • Penny Fowler, News Corp
  • Leaders from academia, government and business sectors


With great thanks, the American Australian Association says farewell and welcome, stepping sure-footed into the growing potential and capabilities of the organization.

Leila Smith

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