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2015 Asia Foundation Development Fellows to Explore Solutions to Region’s Development Challenges

January 21, 2015

By David L. Kim

AsiaFoundationDevelopmentFellows2015The estimated GDP growth in developing Asia is projected to grow at 6.2 percent this year, according to the Asian Development Bank, solidifying the region’s position as the driver of global growth in what some call the “Asian Century.” However, a closer examination reveals a complex and rapidly changing region undergoing a shifting landscape that presents new social tensions and economic vulnerabilities. Experts predict that by 2030, the youth population in Asia will reach 460 million and urbanization will increase from 39.9 percent to 54.5 percent. The opportunity for Asia’s youth to play a leading role in shaping their region’s future is enormous.

To provide a platform for Asia’s young professionals, The Asia Foundation launched in 2014 the prestigious program: Asia Foundation Development Fellows: Emerging Leadership for Asia’s Future. The program selects fellows from a diverse range of backgrounds – NGO and civil society leaders, government officials and policymakers, social entrepreneurs, journalists, environmentalists, and academics – with the goal of finding creative and lasting solutions to the region’s diverse development needs and challenges. Today, the Foundation announced the second class of fellows, seven women and five men working in government, the nonprofit sector, social enterprises, and media representing 12 Asian countries.

The 2015 Development Fellows, all under the age of 40, were selected from over 950 candidates from more than 20 Asian countries. Representing Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Korea, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand, the members of the 2015 class were chosen by a panel of experts for their relevant real-world development expertise, outstanding commitment, proven community leadership, and exceptional potential.

The 2015 Development Fellows are:

Sha Elijah Dumama-Alba, 33, is a Bangsamoro lawyer at the Civil Service Commission-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao committed to the progress of her homeland in Cotabato City, the Philippines.

Mowmita Basak Mow, 24, is the founder and president of Center for Leadership Assistance & Promotion Foundation, developing training and mentorship programs for young leaders to serve minority communities for a more inclusive Bangladesh.

Zolzaya Batkhuyag, 30, is a gender, justice, and human rights activist; and a founder of Young Women for Change and the Women’s Leadership Institute in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Terith Chy, 33, is executive officer at the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Since 2008, he and his staff have assisted over 1,500 survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime to submit accounts of suffering to the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Amna Waheed Durrani, 29, from Pakistan’s conflict-affected Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, is coordination officer at the Provincial Commission on the Status of Women in Peshawar.

Hasina Ibrahimkhil, 24, is the founder and projects director of the construction contractor company, Ladies Construction Company, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Since completing her degree in civil engineering in 2006, she has worked in various positions at a number companies involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Jeong Tae Kim, 36, is an award-winning social entrepreneur and innovator, and CEO and president of Merry Year Social Company, a social innovation supporting organization that provides consulting services, incubating programs and impact investing to social enterprises and innovation projects in Seoul, Korea.

Seng Pan, 28, is an ethnic Kachin from northern Shan State, working with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as Associate Field Officer and Head of Field Unit in Bhamo, Myanmar.

Nirjan Rai, 35, is a development practitioner with expertise in the areas of policy process, economic governance, and private sector development, and is executive director of Niti Foundation, a Nepali non-profit organization that promotes initiatives to strengthen policy engagement and ownership capacity in Nepal.

Kornchanok Raksaseri, 35, is an acclaimed journalist and assistant managing editor overseeing foreign news for Econ News, a Thai-language economic magazine in Bangkok, Thailand.

Ritesh Singhania, 29, is a strategy officer for Avani Bio Energy in his hometown Kolkata, India, where he developed a process to recycle scrapped railway track into spades, and set up a manufacturing unit in his hometown of Kolkata.

Muhammad Joni Yulianto, 33, is a leading disability rights advocate, and the founder of the Institute for Inclusion and Advocacy of the Disabled (SIGAB), a leading organization in justice advocacy for disabled people in Indonesia.

The 2015 program will include a customized Leadership Training Program in early March held in partnership with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of the National University of Singapore; an applied workshop on Asian Development in Nepal; a small grant of up to $5,000 for each fellow to design a custom professional development plan or project to be implemented over the course of the year; a mentoring program that links fellows with experienced and respected leaders who have participated in Asia’s progress and growth; and, in September, a capstone two-week leadership dialogue and exchange in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The various components of the program create a nexus of different disciplines, working environments, professional experiences, cultures, and country contexts through which the fellows can effectively build practical skills and enhance their leadership capabilities while deepening bonds of regional and international perspective, understanding, and commitment.

Read more about the Asia Foundation Development Fellows program, and engage with the #AsiaDevFellows on Twitter.

David L. Kim is director of the Asia Foundation Development Fellows program, and coordinator of the Luce Scholars program. He can be reached at david.kim@asiafoundation.org. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and not those of The Asia Foundation.

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