YOSEPH AYELE, DIRECTOR

"By bringing together globally minded entrepreneurs and collaboratively building scalable solutions to meet the world’s most pressing needs, I believe NZ can help shape the 21st century."

Growing up in Ethiopia during a time of famine and conflict, Yoseph saw the problems and unique opportunities that came from the rise of globalisation. He developed a global perspective by learning five languages and getting educated on four continents, graduating from Harvard University and Victoria University of Wellington, and taking on a research fellowship at the University of Cambridge. His research areas included entrepreneurial ecosystems, leadership, and sustainable development. He enjoyed being part of the startup community in Silicon Valley, helping to build high-calibre teams at Inflection.

Driven to make a positive impact on the world through entrepreneurship, Yoseph moved to Aotearoa New Zealand in 2013. In NZ, he found an environment open to diversity, a culture that values integrity and humility, and a platform with the freedom to experiment and realise one’s full potential. Yoseph leads the Kiwi Connect team and builds partnerships in NZ, working with government and stakeholders across the innovation ecosystem.

 
 
 

Charlotte Hayes, Events & Operations

"I'm most inspired when I'm learning a new skill or interacting with the natural world. I believe if we apply ethical consideration to whatever we do, things will probably turn out alright."

Charlotte recalls at age six, having a moment of shared understanding with a cooped-up elderly chicken in a factory farm, and realising not all was right with the world. With values firmly entrenched, Charlotte’s curious nature has led her to all corners of the globe: She's worked on feature films in Europe and rap videos in Rwanda, produced digital media in London and tutored piano in Sydney. Most recently she's returned to her roots of jandals, feijoas and hobbits, to coordinate a string of successful programmes within Wellington's burgeoning social enterprise sector.

Affectionately known as our team’s skillionaire, Charlotte makes sure everyone who comes into contact with Kiwi Connect feels like a well-nourished rockstar. Leading the planning and operations of Kiwi Connect’s annual New Frontiers festival, she makes complex events look effortless, turns big ideas into real-life experiences, and ensures the Kiwi Connect team is always leading with heart.

 
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Tai Kenning, Brand & Design

"I believe that the challenges facing our planet will ultimately require true global collaboration. In order to work together, we'll need to design and adopt new methods. We'll need to get creative and cooperative."

Born and raised on the north coast of California to two singer-songwriters, Tai found a lifelong connection to artistic expression at a young age.

Inspired by the fabric of life and its complex subtleties of wave, form, and structure, Tai has over 15 years of experience as a multidisciplinary designer working with Silicon Valley startups, specialising in Branding and User Experience. 

With Kiwi Connect, Tai offers his creative and brand building skills to help communicate ideas experientially through design. In his down time, Tai is a scuba diver, percussionist, artist, runner and world traveller.

 
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Brian Monahan, Director

"You ain't gotta live in New Zealand to live Kiwi. It's a state-of-mind shift, a different way of being, a different way of taking action, and a different way of dreaming; an information economy based in a regenerative ecology"

Brian AKA “BMo” has been known to take to the mic for hip-hop “flowetry” to convey his passionate vision for a more just and sustainable world, and New Zealand's potential role within it.

Brian studied at Harvard University with a dual-concentration in economics and psychology, then left to start Inflection with his brother Matthew. Ten years later, Brian now serves as a hands-on board member, and the “Chief Idea Guy” of the 150-person company.

Brian works with the Kiwi Connect team to connect New Zealand innovators with global markets and capital, particularly as it relates to ecological restoration and sustainable agriculture. He's also a founding director at Namaste Foundation, which supports exceptional nonprofits in their inspiring pursuits of a more beautiful world.

 
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Matthew Monahan, Director

"Tackling humanity's greatest challenges requires new paradigms and integrated solutions. I was drawn to New Zealand because it offers an exciting canvas for such approaches."

Upon arriving to Aotearoa New Zealand in 2010, Matthew was captivated by the people, land, and potential. Matthew felt that New Zealand would be a perfect home base from which to build a global lifestyle, with communities of friends and meaningful impact projects.

Originally from the midwest United States, Matthew has always been an active student of entrepreneurship and technology. After leaving college, Matthew joined forces with his brother Brian to create Inflection, an incubator of trust-based software tools, where he serves as CEO.

Matthew is on the board of Kiwi Connect, helping to bridge connections with Silicon Valley. He is also a founding director of the Namaste Foundation.

 
 
 

Alex Novak, Finance & Operations

"I'm fascinated by the way teams band together towards a common goal and deliver unbelievable results, and I put my trust in the whole being greater than the sum of its parts."

Alex has gravitated towards being part of high-performance teams, particularly sports teams, for as long as he can remember, and has represented New Zealand at Inline Hockey since 2011, playing across the US and Europe.

As a Chartered Accountant, Alex is responsible for everything Finance at Kiwi Connect, and helps the team make analytically driven decisions. He earned his stripes at Ernst & Young in Wellington where he spent four years, after completing his studies at Victoria University. Alex has also spent time living in Switzerland, where he came to understand the ins and outs of the commodity trading industry. His overseas experience helped him to him to realise his dedication and desire to spend his time and efforts in New Zealand.

The opportunity to unlock human potential through teamwork drew Alex to the Kiwi Connect team, trailblazing and entering into the unknown. 

 
 
 

Alina Siegfried, Content & Communications

"I envision a future where we harness the incredible power of human potential and natural abundance to create thriving, interconnected communities and ecosystems."

It was standing under stage lights in Canada, staring out into a darkened room of a hundred people in hushed anticipation, and poised to perform in her first poetry slam, that Alina realised the power of story.

Originally from the Bay of Plenty, Alina is Kiwi Connect’s resident storyteller, drawing upon fifteen years of diverse experiences in environmental planning and policy development, conservation, communications, content creation, and extensive travel, to weave together inspiring narratives around New Zealand’s unique opportunity to incubate integrated and transformative solutions to the world’s wicked problems.

Alina is a TEDx speaker and a former New Zealand National Poetry Slam champion, under her stage alias Ali Jacs, and also has a passion for skiing down steep slopes at breakneck speed.