Alistair Thornton is Co-Founder of YCW. Originally from London, he was based in Beijing 2008-2013, where he worked in economic research. He has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2013.  He works in product strategy at Facebook.

Raffaello Pantucci is Co-Founder of YCW. Based in London, he is a Director of International Security Studies at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), where he focuses on counter-terrorism and China’s relations with its western neighbours. His work can be found at

Sue Anne Tay is Global Director of YCW. Based in London, she is Director for China and RMB Internationalisation at HSBC, where she designs and implements the bank’s global strategy for RMBI business, and drives a range of China outbound initiatives. She also created Shanghai Street Stories, a documentary platform on the city’s heritage architecture and urbanization trends.

Lea Yu is Director of Digital Operations of YCW. She is based in San Francisco and works in Product Operations at Facebook. She previously worked as a journalist and private equity analyst in Beijing.

Karsten Luc is Head of Social Media of YCW. At Think Asia Group, he consults on digital developments and data analysis in Southeast Asia. As Chief Digital Officer at AKRYL, Luc manages digital projects for private sector clients and government institutions. He is a former visiting academic fellow at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), and completed his Magister Artium at Free University of Berlin and Technical University of Berlin.

Karen Schuster is Director of Social Media, Asia, of YCW. She is based in Singapore, and currently works at Unruly, a News Corp company, on the insight and data team.

June Sun is Global Head of Mentorship Programme of YCW, overseeing YCW’s mentorship initiatives across the chapters. She works as an international development consultant at Vera Solutions. She has previously worked on China-UK relations for the British Government. She holds a BA from the University of Cambridge and an MPhil from the University of Oxford.



Kevin Kerrigan is Co-Head of YCW Beijing and leads the YCW-Carnegie Tsinghua Mentorship Programme. He is a strategic Risk and Media Affairs Research Consultant for China-i, specialised in advising Chinese organisations on “going-out” and Belt and Road strategies. He previously worked for the UK Permanent Representation to the EU on a host of issues, including EU-China relations. He has a master’s in International Relations from the LSE.

Anna Brachtendorf is Co-Head of YCW Beijing. As a Project Manager at Friedrich Ebert Foundation she specialises in social security, labour relations and gender equality. Before moving to Beijing in 2017, she studied Political Science and International Relations in Shanghai, Paris and Nanjing and holds two M.A.s from the Universities of Konstanz and Warwick.

Adam C.R. Schmelzer is Director of YCW Beijing and a Beijing-based lawyer with Dechert LLP, focusing his corporate practice on energy and resources. He has studied at both Peking and Tsinghua Universities and returned to Beijing in 2016 after time in Boston and Washington.

Thena Lee (Jianya Li) is Director of YCW Beijing. She is the Deputy Communications Director at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing. Prior to joining Carnegie, Lee served a project manager on the Tianjin Airport Economic Area Administrative Committee. She has also worked at different foreign policy think tanks in Washington DC. Lee received an MA. in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution from George Washington University and a LL.B. in International Politics from Central China Normal University.

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Nathan Lawes is Co-Head of YCW Shanghai. He is an Industrial Internet of Things consultant at IoT ONE, having previously moved to Beijing to work for an initiative of the WEF’s Young Global Leaders. He studied International Relations at the University of Exeter and the University of Hong Kong.

Joshua Griffiths is Co-Head of YCW Shanghai. He is a Research, Visits and Public Diplomacy Officer at the Australian Consulate in Shanghai, having previously moved down from Beijing after having worked at the Australian Embassy there. He has a combined Bachelors of Economics/Asia-Pacific Studies from the Australian National University and previously studied Standard Chinese at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou.

Nihal Kutlu is Director of YCW Shanghai. She is a Ph.D. student in International Politics at Fudan University, Shanghai. Prior to that, she lived in Beijing for two years and received an MA in Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy from Tsinghua University.

Zeynep Simge Özgüleç is Director of YCW Shanghai. Originally from Turkey, she has lived in Shanghai since 2017. She is a master’s student at Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Her research focuses on grassroots political participation and democratization movements in urban China.

Sam Silverman is Director of YCW Shanghai. He is a product manager at General Motors for infotainment and connected vehicles. He is most interested in the future of joint venture companies in China and how they will adapt against competitive Chinese companies. Sam studied Chinese Language and Literature at Hamilton College with sub-concentrations in Chinese Politics and International Relations.

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Natasha Khan is Head of YCW Hong Kong. She is a journalist with The Wall Street Journal. She previously spent six years reporting for Bloomberg News, where she was named a finalist for a Livingston Award for Young Journalists in 2015 for stories on cancer and bankruptcy in China. She was also part of the Bloomberg team that produced the George Polk award-winning investigation in 2012 that revealed the hidden wealth of China’s ruling elite. Natasha holds degrees in law and business administration from the University of Hong Kong.

Chi-Jia Tschang is Co-Head of YCW Hong Kong. She is involved in regional risk analysis and crisis management functions at Goldman Sachs.

Maguire Padley is Director of YCW Hong Kong. She works as a crisis management analyst at Goldman Sachs. Prior to moving to Hong Kong, Ms. Maguire worked and studied in mainland China for five years. She has an MA from Nanjing University and Johns Hopkins SAIS.

Jens Schott Knudsen is the in-house counsel for Zuru Toys. He has served as a lecturer at several law schools in China including Tsinghua University where he taught American contract law and civil procedure. He is also a photographer; his work can be found at

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James Tunningley is the Head of the Young China Watchers in London. He is the Private Secretary to the Permanent Secretary at the UK Government’s Department for International Trade. He is on the Young Leaders Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Pacific Forum, a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, a Global Fellow at the Kairos Society and a Junior Member of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. He previously worked in a variety of roles in the UK Government, and prior to that held positions at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI), China-Britain Business Council and Emerging Strategy. He is a graduate of the University of Oxford.

Michael Yip FRSA is the Co-Head of the Young China Watchers in London. He is also a civil servant, advising the UK Government on state-backed financings of international trade and overseas infrastructure projects. Previously, he was awarded Fellowships by the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Commonwealth Society for his grassroots community campaigns that supported the UK’s first-ever election of a British Chinese MP into Parliament. He has a background in international affairs (BA, Warwick) and English commercial law.

Sarah Montgomery is Director of YCW London. Sarah works at Everledger, executing the technology company’s expansion into China. Through studying and working in China, Sarah has developed a deep interest in the intersection of China, sustainability and technology which she is pursuing through her work at Everledger, which uses blockchain, AI and IoT to build more trust and transparency in global supply chains. Sarah studied Chinese, History of Art and Business at Durham University. She has obtained HSK Level 6, previously studied at Peking University and as a Huayu Enrichment Scholar at National Taiwan University.

Mossy Wittenberg is Director of YCW London. Mossy works on the Government Business Development at Palantir Technologies. He holds a BA in English from the University of Cambridge, and spent two years working in startups in the media sector before moving to Beijing as a Schwarzman Scholar. He wrote his Schwarzman master’s thesis on the spread of fake news in China and the United States, and is particularly interested in the ways in which governments utilise information technology.

Frederick Ladbury is Director of Operations for YCW London. He is a Policy Analyst at the Bank of England, focused on foreign exchange markets. Previously he worked at New York-based FX fintech firm. A native French and English speaker, he lived in Beijing 2013-2014. He holds master’s degrees in government from Peking University and from the London School of Economics and a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford.

Rose Martin is the Director of the YCW London Mentorship Programme. She is a Senior Consultant at Impactt Limited, an ethical trade and supply chain consultancy. She works with brands, investors, and sourcing teams across the garment, food, and construction sectors to manage risk and drive improvements in their global supply chains. Rose studied Chinese at the University of Edinburgh and Chinese Translation at SOAS. Before moving to London in 2018, she lived and worked in Shanghai, Gansu, Nanjing and Beijing.

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Victoria Lai is Head of YCW New York. She is an analytical lead for Google. Previously, she was an economist and editor for the Economist Intelligence Unit’s China service. She was based in Beijing between 2008-11.

Grace Hsieh is Director of YCW New York. She is the Founder of Graceful Brand Stewards, a company that manages marketing programs for global brands on Chinese digital and social media. Her background includes roles in global brand strategy and management at Landor, mcgarrybowen, Hill & Knowlton, and Marc Jacobs. Grace is also the former President of the Yale Club of Beijing.

Michael Laha is Director of YCW New York. He is a Program Officer at Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations and holds a M.A. in East Asian Languages and Culture from Columbia University and a B.S. from Tufts University.

Rosie Levine is Director of YCW New York. Rosie grew up between Beijing and Boston, and from 2014-2018 worked in the cultural heritage sector in Beijing. She holds an M.A. in History & Archeology from the Yenching Academy at Peking University. She works at the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

Charlie Patterson is Director of Membership for YCW New York. He works as a data engineer at Myers Holum, a Google Cloud consulting partner. Between 2014 and 2015, he conducted research on rural-urban elder migration in Xi’an and Nanjing via a Fulbright fellowship.

Jace Gilmore is Director of Mentorship for YCW New York. He is an executive for Brunswick Group, a corporate strategy firm. Previously, he was in China from 2015–2018 and was the content manager for the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. He holds an M.A. in Global Studies from Missouri State University and a post-graduate certificate from the US Naval Postgraduate School.


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Fred Tsai is Head of YCW San Francisco and launched YCW SF in 2015. He is Senior Director of Strategy at Previously, Fred was based out of China for nearly a decade where he served in a number of senior roles at Dell, including as Director of China Strategy. He began his career in investment banking at Deutsche Bank in San Francisco. Fred is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Sonia Aggarwal is Director of YCW San Francisco. She is an attorney at Morrison & Foerster working with public and private companies on corporate transactions. Previously, Sonia worked at Gunderson Dettmer, the US Department of Commerce, Avista Advisory Group,, and the National Foreign Trade Council. She graduated from Claremont McKenna College and received her JD and MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Chris Lu is Director of YCW San Francisco. He is currently a software engineer at Google. Previously, Chris worked in engineering at both Cambly and Cask Data. He is a graduate of Bowdoin College where he studied Computer Science.

Michael Yang is Director of YCW San Francisco. He is a principal at Investment Group of Santa Barbara, a private investment firm focused on software and technology companies. Previously, Michael was an investor with Tiger Management and CapitalG (formerly Google Capital). He has also worked at US Steel, where he was Chief of Staff and Head of Strategy for Consumer Solutions, as well as McKinsey & Co, where he was an Engagement Manager. Michael is a graduate of Northwestern University and received his MBA from Stanford.

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Angela Stanzel is Co-Head of YCW Berlin. She is Policy Fellow in the Asia & China programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). Prior to that, she finished her PhD on China-Pakistan relations and has worked for the International Affairs Office of the Koerber Foundation in Berlin, for the German Marshall Fund in Brussels and for the German Embassy in Beijing.

Mareike Ohlberg is Co-Head of YCW Berlin. He is a research associate at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) in the Research Area Politics, Society, and Media. Prior to joining MERICS, she held postdoctoral appointments at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University and at the Cheng Shewo Institute for Chinese Journalism in Taipei.

Ferdinand Schaff is Director of YCW Berlin. He is senior manager for China at the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA). He started working on China at the APA in 2015 after an internship at the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS). Ferdinand studied China studies and economics in Cologne, Beijing and London.

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Ai Ghee Ong is Head of YCW Singapore. She is an alumna of the Johns Hopkins SAIS and Hopkins-Nanjing Center. She was previously with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat in Singapore. She is working for her family business and is concurrently co-founding a tech start-up. In her spare time, she paints portraits of political leaders here.

Weng Hong Chan is Director of Operations, YCW Singapore. He is a graduate from the Singapore Management University (SMU). He is currently working in dispute resolution at an advocacy organisation. He loves history and is a keen follower of security and economic developments around Asia Pacific.

Jiaxin Lu is Director of Membership, YCW Singapore. She is currently working as an economist at Continuum Economics. Originally from China, Jiaxin was educated in Singapore and the UK. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from The London School of Economics and Political Science. Jiaxin has previously worked as a teaching assistant at LSE Confucius Institute for Business London.

Pearlyn Chiang is Director of YCW Singapore. She is an investment professional and an entrepreneur. An alumnus of New York University and University of Pennsylvania, she has lived and worked in multiple countries and is a keen follower of political, business and economic development issues in the Asia Pacific and the US, as well as science and technology developments. Pearlyn sits on the Society Engagement Committee of the CFA Asia Pacific Research Exchange and is a member of the Gerson Lehrman Group Expert Network. In her spare time, she organises professional development talks for the CFA Singapore Society, conducts professional level classes for various corporates, universities and industry bodies and is an active participant in the Hwa Chong Alumni.

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Chiara Zannini is Co-Head of YCW Brussels. She works at Europtimum Conseil, a EU Public Affairs Consultancy operating in Brussels, where she specialises in EU politics and EU-Asia Relations. She holds degrees from Bologna University and SOAS, University of London, in Chinese studies and Chinese politics.

Marta Irene Garda Co-Head of YCW Brussels. She works in Trade Defence in the Directorate for Trade at the European Commission. She has studying and working experience in China and holds degrees from Venice and Milan Universities in Chinese studies and international relations.

Lei Zhang is Co-Head of YCW Brussels. She is a lecturer and researcher in law at Free University of Brussels (VUB). Prior to this, she was a journalist and director with the China Central Television Station in Beijing and a legal consultant with law firms in Belgium.

Aljoscha Nau is Co-Head of YCW Brussels. He works as European Affairs Analyst & Coordinator at the Brussels office of the German Economic Institute (IW). He holds a master’s in International Political Economy from the London School of Economics, where he focused on trade and investment relations between the EU and China.

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Will Heidlage is the Head of YCW DC. He is a Director with BowerGroupAsia, an international government relations consultancy. He has lived in Beijing, Hangzhou and Nanjing and received an MA from Johns Hopkins SAIS.

Andrew Coflan is Director of YCW DC. He works as an analyst specializing in the Chinese economy and financial system. He is an alumni of the Johns Hopkins SAIS China Studies program and of Teach for China.

Katie Lebling is a Director of YCW DC. She is a Research Analyst at the World Resources Institute where she works on international climate policy. She has previously lived and studied in Beijing and Nanjing and has an MA from Johns Hopkins SAIS.

Rachael Burton is a Director of YCW DC. She is a Deputy-Director at Project 2049 Institute and received her BA from George Washington University.

Marcus Chiu is Director of YCW DC. He completed a joint master’s degree in international affairs at the London School of Economics and Peking University, and currently works at Gartner in Washington, DC. Prior to this, he briefly worked at the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

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