Insights and Analysis

Advancing Leadership in Asia: 2016 Asia Foundation Development Fellows

February 10, 2016

By David L. Kim

TAFDFBIGHEADER2015Across Asia, countries are shifting from a reliance on low-cost manufacturing to a focus on innovation and knowledge to drive their economies forward. By 2030, Asia will represent two-thirds of the global middle class and account for over 40 percent of global middle-class consumption. With this growth comes new job opportunities, and Asian countries will rely on a growing youth population, expected to reach 460 million by 2030, to not only fill these jobs, but take the lead on driving the region’s future.

In this time of rapid change and extraordinary development pressures and challenges throughout the region, the need for investing in and supporting creative, inspired and transformative next-generation leadership has never been more imperative.

To provide a new platform for Asia’s young, reform-minded professionals, and offer a catalyst for learning and leadership, The Asia Foundation launched in 2014 the prestigious Asia Foundation Development Fellows: Emerging Leadership for Asia’s Future program, bringing together individuals 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 shared common purpose in the pursuit of creative and lasting solutions to the region’s diverse development needs and challenges.

The Foundation just announced its third cohort of Fellows, six women and six men, representing 11 different countries, to participate in the year long professional advancement program. With a diverse mix of backgrounds and incredible records of accomplishment, and selected for their relevant real-world development expertise, proven community leadership, and exceptional potential, the 2016 Development Fellows are:

Sushil Adhikari is a youth and disability-rights activist, blogger, and freelance writer, and founder of Bright Star Society, a venture working to bridge the gap between persons with and without disabilities in Nepal. Since losing his sight at age 11, he has worked to become an active change agent while engaging himself with different elements of the youth-disability sector in Nepal. Currently, he is working to raise awareness about disabilities and minority-rights, organizing various campaigns through radio, online-media, and other technologies.

Nuruddin Ahmed is an engineer, social entrepreneur, author, and the founder of the international award winning Bengali youth platform, a youth mobilizing platform that has reached a quarter of a million Bengali-speaking youths. Shorob publishes pieces on various issues such as civic participation, human rights and minority rights. Ahmed also directs Shorob Accountability Lab (SAL), which develops innovative mobile applications focusing on government transparency, accountability and free and fair elections.

Junjian Gaoshan is an analyst for the youth program at United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in China, and an advocate for girls’ education rights. He is a member of the youth advocate group at the UN Secretary General’s Global Education Initiative, where he advocates for girls’ education rights. He was previously chair of China Youth Network and founder of 360 Youth Education Initiative.

Ruby Hembrom is the founder and director of Adivaani (first voices), an archiving and publishing platform that gives voice to the Adivasis (the indigenous peoples of India). A trained book designer and editor, Hembrom’s initiative grew out of a need to document the cultural and historical heritage of the Adivasis in India. She is the author of Adivaani’s Santal Creation Stories for children and the prize-winning Disaibon Hul on the Santal Rebellion of 1855–57.

Brabim Kumar is a writer and political activist serving as president of Association of Youth Organization Nepal (AYON), a national network of youth that unites 92 youth organizations in Nepal. He has a decade of commitment to youth-led activism in Nepal, which includes the founding of Creative Youth Society and a national radio show called Youth Vision, in 2004. In the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, he led a large-scale mobilization of youth for relief and resettlement activities.

Kimberly Molitas is the spokesperson and chief of the Public Information Office of the National Capital Region Police Office in The Philippines. She has worked with the Philippine National Police for 17 years, and served with the United Nations’ Stabilization Mission in Haiti. Molitas completed the Humphrey Fellowship on Public Policy Analysis & Public Administration. Her goal is to empower women police around Asia.

Mahnoor Rathore, a human rights lawyer by training, runs Chayn Pakistan, the first crowd-sourced website informing and supporting women experiencing domestic violence in Pakistan. She has volunteered and worked with various NGOs, both community and government based on a range of issues including education and women’s rights. She also teaches and provides educational counseling for local schools, and leads other programs focusing on the arts.

Carmeneza dos Santos Monteiro serves as public administration liaison officer for the Office of the Prime Minister of Timor Leste, and is president of the Australian Timor-Leste Development Awards Alumni Association and member of the Timor-Leste Policy Leaders Group. She was recognized for her outstanding work during Australia’s response to the 2006 humanitarian crisis in Timor Leste that left close 15 percent of the population displaced.

Kotchakorn Voraakhom is a landscape architect, and founder and director of the Bangkok-based architectural firm, Landscape and Urban Design. She also founded the Koungkuey Design Initiative (KDI), an international partnership that works with communities to design and rebuild public spaces. She has worked on notable projects including the popular 2015 Thailand Pavilion in Milan, a number of innovative landscape designs for Bangkok. Kotchakorn is also a highly active campaigner for public green space.

Lien Phuong Vu is the defense program coordinator for the Defense Attaché Office (DAO) at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi in which she works with the Vietnam Ministry of Defense to coordinate and organize bilateral and multilateral medical, maritime security, search and rescue, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief engagements. Lien earned the U.S. Embassy’s 2015 Foreign Service National of the Year Award for her contributions to achieving diplomatic, security, and humanitarian objectives in the region.

Novil Wijesekara is a medical doctor who established the first community-based tsunami early warning system of Sri Lanka. His work on disaster, health and environmental issues has been recognized through the National Disaster Resilience Leadership Awards of Ministry of Disaster Management, Health Excellence Awards of Ministry of Health and Innovative Research Grant Awards of the World Bank.

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 [email protected]. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and not those of The Asia Foundation or its funders.

1 Comment

  1. Asia Foundation has always have been supporting youth leadership. In good old days in late 60s when Asia Foundation operated in India, I had the previllage to work with TAF and then I went to become secretary Generl of WAY in CPH and became ED of Asian forum of Parliamentarians in Bkk and able to help leadership of Elected Representative around the world ,thanks to TAF for initial training.

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