Dr James To has an academic background in Asian languages (Mandarin, Cantonese, and Japanese), political science, and commerce. He has lectured in Northeast Asian foreign policy, and is an active researcher of the overseas Chinese diaspora.
After completing his PhD in international relations at the University of Canterbury, James worked for NZTE at the New Zealand pavilion during the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. He was a co-chair of the Palmerston North branch of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, and is currently National Secretary of the New Zealand Chinese Association.
In his spare time, James enjoys spending time with his young family, taking photographs, and developing smartphone apps. In June 2023 he became the Foundation's South Island Engagement Manager. He is based in Ōtautahi Christchurch.