Our staff

Key Personnel


Alex Penk

CEOAlex joined Maxim Institute in December 2005 after completing a Master of Laws at Cambridge University. He also spent time as a Pegasus Scholar in London, working with experienced barristers of the Inner Temple. Alex holds degrees in law and science from the University of Auckland. Before leaving for Cambridge, he practised law with one of New Zealand's largest firms. 



Jane Silloway Smith
Joanne Abernethy

COOJoining staff December 2013, Joanne manages the human resources and operational matters of Maxim Institute. With a Bachelor of Education and Diploma of Business, Joanne has a wealth of management experience from previous roles in large scale events and the ECE sector. 



Jeremy Vargo
Jeremy Vargo

Communications ManagerJeremy came on staff in 2013 in the role of Media and Communications Officer. He completed a Bachelor of Commerce with Marketing at University of Canterbury, and comes to the role with several years of experience in both corporate communications and the not-for-profit sector. Please contact Jeremy for any media enquiries, on: 021 024 99 123 or (09) 627 3261 Ext. 219.



Kieran Madden
Kieran Madden

ResearcherKieran joined Maxim Institute as a researcher in 2012 after graduating with a Master of Public Policy from the Crawford School of Economics and Government at the Australian National University. Prior to this he worked as a researcher for an Australian Senator, following several years as a Project Manager for Hewlett Packard.



Kieran Madden
Julian Wood

ResearcherJulian graduated with a Masters of Social Science in Economics from Waikato University, going on to work in Wellington as a policy analyst/researcher focused on labour market dynamics, minimum wage legislation, regional development, business dynamics, and immigration. Prior to joining the Maxim Institute team in 2015, Julian spent 10 years in China gaining experience in business dynamics and economic development in the context of rural beef farming, and working with an NGO that provides assistance to rural students and their families.



Ella Anselmi

Events and Operations CoordinatorElla came on staff as Events and Operations Coordinator in 2015. She completed a Bachelor of Communications at Massey University in Wellington, and has several years of experience in both communications and events management. Prior to joining Maxim Institute Ella worked as Events Coordinator at the Tauranga City Council, following time as Communications Assistant at UN Children’s Fund NZ.



Danielle van Dalen
Danielle van Dalen

ResearcherDanielle joined Maxim Institute as a Researcher in 2016 after completing a MSc in Political Science at Leiden University, Netherlands, with a focus on Conflict and Cooperation. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours majoring in Political Science and International Relations from Victoria, University of Wellington. In 2013-2014 Danielle took part in the Venn Foundation Internship, which included a placement at Maxim Institute focused on the second edition of Flint & Steel.