September 13, 2013 — In 1954 twenty-one civic minded, and forward-thinking citizens who shared a strong interest in Asia, distinguished personal achievements, and dedicated public service joined to form The Asia Foundation—a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting Asian development. Among the original founding officers of the board, there were several presidents/chairmen of large companies including T.S. Peterson, CEO of Standard Oil of California (now Chevron), Brayton Wilbur, president of Wilbur-Ellis Co., and J.D. Zellerbach, chairman of the Crown Zellerbach Corporation; four university presidents including Grayson Kirk from Columbia, J.E. Wallace Sterling of Stanford, and Raymond Allen from UCLA; prominent attorneys including Turner McBaine; Pulitzer Prize-winning writer James Michener; Paul Hoffman, the first administrator of the Marshall Plan in Europe; and several major figures in foreign affairs.
As we mark The Asia Foundation’s 60th year in 2014 and reflect on the remarkable vision the Foundation’s founders set out so many decades ago, our fundamental values and mission ring as true and are as critical as ever—to improve lives, expand opportunities, and help societies flourish across a dynamic and developing Asia. Much has changed in Asia and the world since 1954 but the solid groundwork set by the Foundation’s founders has enabled The Asia Foundation to continue to evolve, leading decades of critical development work and impacting countless people across the region.