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Our People

The ASST team is a group of professionals and volunteers dedicated to the advocacy and support of all people seeking asylum in New Zealand.



Andrew Barron

Board Member

Andrew has been working in the education sector for over 18 years. He started out as a language teacher before moving to the International Office at the University of Auckland. Through his time there, he worked with domestic and international students in several student support and pastoral care roles. More recently, Andrew has taken up the role of Manager for English Language Partners North Shore. Andrew has a strong desire to work collaboratively with organizations to help build our community.

Baptist Lobo


Baptist is a Chartered Accountant and CPA, a high achiever and a go-getter with a can-do attitude, a professional with many years of experience years of experience in technical/financial/project/management accounting, commercial management and reporting. He has worked for small, medium and large-scale multinational organisations, progressing to more responsible positions and financial leadership roles. He is a natural team player admired for his ability to add value and foster partnership at all levels; a results-oriented lateral thinker who can identify opportunities, manage, and drive change; a member on various not-for-profit boards; and runs and manages his own CA practice.

Maithili Sreen

Board Member

Maithili is a lawyer working in Tāmaki Makaurau, with a strong dedication to defending the rights of asylum seekers. Having previously worked as a refugee barrister, Maithili has experience in navigating New Zealand's refugee determination process and providing support to vulnerable individuals seeking refuge. In 2020, Maithili transitioned her practice to focus on indigenous rights law and works for Māori clients across the country. Maithili is committed to creating a more inclusive society that respects the dignity and rights of all individuals.

Patricia Brevis V

Board Member

Patricia is a multi-faceted woman with extensive professional and personal experience. She is a commercial engineer and licensed economist with a masters degree in international commerce and university pedagogy. As well as being an entrepreneur and body-building competitor, she is deeply committed to personal growth and discipline. A mother of three sons and an active member of St Benedict Church, she serves as a communion member and chorister. With over 34 years of experience, she has been a university professor, worked in social evaluation projects for government and has served as a financial analyst. She is committed to justice and moral values, and her faith and participation in the choir contribute to her personal growth.

Susan Elliott ONZM

Board Member

Sue has worked in the refugee sector for more than 40 years as a teacher, researcher, consultant, facilitator, mentor, volunteer, advocate and ally. She has worked in New Zealand and the UK as a lecturer, and internationally as a consultant for UNHCR, and other UN agencies as well as NZ MFAT, NGOs and community-based organisations. Sue has wide governance experience in the not-for-profit sector. She was a founder of the Auckland Refugee Council (now trading as ASST), The Human Rights Foundation, RASNZ and the Auckland Refugee Family Trust where she was a Trustee for more than 10 years. Over the past 20 years she has also been a Board member of various refugee background support and human rights NGOS such as the Human Rights Foundation, ECPAT, Devzone and the Aotearoa Community Development Association.

Yusrin Salleh

Board Member

Yusrin is dedicated to youth and community development. He has contributed to the community in Brunei, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. His time in New Zealand allowed him to expand his dedication to the rangatahi and Asylum Seekers Support Trust. His family too, supports his dedication and participates in his pursuit. As a trilingual, Yusrin hopes to be able to work with councils like ASST, such as RASNZ and RCNZ to assist recipients in both the North and South Island.

Judy Wilford

Vice Chair

Judy began volunteering with ASST in 2019 and joined the Board the following year. Her working life has included ten years teaching English language, mainly at RMIT University in Melbourne, and 20 years as senior publications editor at the University of Auckland. Her academic study has been in linguistics, journalism and international relations. She has worked and studied for 16 years overseas, mainly in Australia, Italy, and the Middle East, and strongly believes in the need for justice for those who seek asylum, and in New Zealand’s responsibility to provide a safe welcome and the support they need.

Hannah Ryder


Hannah is a Brit married to a kiwi and currently living in Remuera, Auckland. They have two primary school aged kids. She volunteers one day a week at ASST, mainly assembling and delivering food boxes but also collecting donations from her community following requests for anything and everything! She also coordinates the receipt of the Good Bitches baking for the clients. Other things that fill her bucket include playing squash, walking, playing the piano, driving for Meals on Wheels, dining out in exciting new spots and planning travel, whether she ends up going or not!

Bernard Sama

Board Chair

Bernard Sama comes from an anglophone minority region (former British Southern Cameroons), now a people systemically persecuted by the francophone-led government of the Cameroons. Facing political persecution while on pupillage as a human rights lawyer in his country, Bernard fled to Aotearoa, seeking asylum, and was recognised by the government as a convention refugee in 2008. He successfully reunited with his daughters in 2019, a decade later. Bernard decided to give back to this beautiful country by voluntarily supporting other new arrivals in the refugee community and advocating for the improvement of conditions of asylum seekers and convention refugees in Aotearoa New Zealand. Over the past years, this motivation has brought him into different leadership roles in the refugee community, including serving now as the Board Chair of the Asylum Seekers Support Trust. Bernard is also completing his PhD research, which explores how health and well-being in the refugee status determination procedure could be improved through focusing on the therapeutic jurisprudence perspective.

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