The United States Studies Centre (USSC) at the University of Sydney is pleased to announce the appointment of the Honourable Kim Beazley AC and Leila Smith to its Board.

Mr Beazley is a former Australian ambassador to the United States and Minister for Defence. Ms Smith is Chair of the American Australian Association, a Charlie Perkins Scholar, and CEO of the Aurora Education Foundation. She is a Wiradjuri woman.

Chairman of the USSC Board Mark Baillie commended their distinguished experience in government, academia and education, recognising how they are uniquely placed to provide valuable insight to the Board.

"The United States Studies Centre is in an exciting period of growth, and this is reflected in our new appointments which include both a former ambassador to the United States and a Charlie Perkins Scholar," Mr Baillie said. He added, “Their strategic international and leadership expertise will bring both breadth and depth to the Board.”

USSC CEO Dr Michael Green said he welcomed the new Board members, and the experience they brought to the USSC.

"The Centre's role as a leading voice on all things related to the US-Australia alliance, from emerging technology, to AUKUS, has never been more important and to have new board appointees with diverse and rich experience is critical as we continue to gather momentum."

Mr Baillie also expressed his thanks to the outgoing board members John Olsen AO, Heather Smith PSM, and Brendan Nelson AO, for their valuable service to the USSC.

Upon concluding John Olsen's 10 years of service on the Board of the USSC, Mr Baillie noted, "John Olsen achieved many accolades in his distinguished career, but it culminated in his work bridging the Pacific and strengthening US-Australian ties in his work as Consul General of Los Angeles and New York, chairing the Board of the American Australian Association Ltd and Perth USAsia Centre and serving on the Board of the United States Studies Centre."

He continued, "That's why we are delighted to honour him through the new John Olsen AO Scholarship – this will be a travel scholarship for an American Studies student to participate in the student mobility program to spend time in America."

The John Olsen scholarship is sending its first student to the United States in 2023.

The Honourable Kim Beazley, AC

Kim Beazley was a Minister in the Hawke and Keating Labor Governments (1983-1996), including as Defence Minister. From 1995 to 1996, Mr Beazley was Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Australian Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition from 1996 to 2001, and 2005 to 2006. Mr Beazley served on parliamentary committees, including the Joint Intelligence Committee and the Joint Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee. After his retirement from politics in 2007, Mr Beazley was appointed Winthrop Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at The University of Western Australia. Mr Beazley took up an appointment as Ambassador to the United States of America in February 2010. He served as Ambassador until January 2016. Upon returning to Australia from Washington in 2016, Mr Beazley was appointed as President of the Australian Institute for International Affairs (2016-17), Co-Chairman of the Australian American Leadership Dialogue (2016-18), Distinguished Fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, and a Director and Distinguished Fellow at the Perth USAsia Centre.

Ms Leila Smith

Leila Smith is Chair of the American Australian Association Ltd in Australia and CEO of the Aurora Education Foundation. Ms Smith is a Wiradjuri woman and a Charlie Perkins Scholar with a Master of Philosophy in Public Policy from the University of Cambridge and has experience in Aboriginal health and education sectors. Prior to Aurora, Ms Smith was the Knowledge Translation Manager at the Lowitja Institute where she was awarded a Roberta Sykes scholarship to attend Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Non-profit Management course. She was also a Senior Consultant at Nous Group and Policy and Programs Manager at the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association. She is a Board Member of Remote Area Health Corps.

Media enquiries

T 0468 480 165