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
Dr. Jane Silloway Smith

Research ManagerJane holds a PhD and an MA in history from Northwestern University, Illinois and a BA in history with highest honours, summa cum laude from the University of Georgia. Prior to joining Maxim Institute as a researcher in July 2009, Jane taught in the history departments at both Auckland University and Northwestern University. Her doctoral research on communities and political change in Hanoverian Britain earned her a number of awards and honours, including the T. W. Heyck Award for Research in British Studies in 2009.



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.



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.



Research Fellow


Nathan McLellan
Nathan McLellan

Research FellowNathan McLellan holds a Master of Applied Economics from Massey University. He is also a Masters graduate of Regent College, and currently a Ph.D. candidate in Ethics at Southern Methodist University (SMU). Formerly an economist at the New Zealand Treasury, Nathan has also worked as Head of Research for the Marketplace Institute in Vancouver, Canada where he was also Manager of the residential internship programme. Nathan has worked as a strategic and economic consultant for organisations in both the public and private sectors, and his leadership and academic skills have been awarded by the Walter Wright Jr. Leadership Award and a New Zealand Treasury Study Award.