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2017 Asia Foundation Development Fellows: Twelve Emerging Leaders Selected

San Francisco, February 9, 2017 — The Asia Foundation today announced the 2017 class of the Asia Foundation Development Fellows: Emerging Leadership for Asia’s Future. The seven women and five men are an accomplished group of change makers—inspiring young professionals working in government, the nonprofit sector, social enterprises, and media representing 12 Asian countries. The program reflects the international development organization’s six-decade tradition of investing in the region’s most promising future leaders—bringing them together in a life-changing atmosphere of learning and connections.


Across the region, a new generation of reform-minded individuals are creating impact, drawing from their experiences locally and globally. The Foundation’s leadership development program, now in its fourth year, brings together this network of innovators in their pursuit of creative solutions to the region’s most critical development challenges, including rising inequality, challenges of urbanization, pervasive conflicts, and violence against women.

The 2017 Development Fellows represent Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. This year’s class was selected from over 800 candidates from over 20 Asian countries who responded to the Foundation’s October call for applicants.

Meet the 2017 Development Fellows:

Nureen Anisha (Bangladesh)
Environmental Researcher & Television Host
Ms. Nureen Anisha is a researcher and activist in the field of climate change, environment, and water resources. An engineer by training, she is also an award-winning public speaker, debate coach, and TV show host. Anisha’s research projects in the domain of climate change focus on gender dimensions, socio-cultural, and political dynamics of climate change. Her TV show, Projonmo Agami, which finished airing its third season, raises social awareness on religious tolerance, communal harmony, civic responsibility, and other contemporary social issues impacting youth in Bangladesh. Anisha holds a master’s degree in Climate Change and Development from Independent University, Bangladesh, and a bachelor’s degree in Water Resource Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.

Lkhagva Erdene (Mongolia)
Investigative Journalist
Mr. Lkhagva Erdene is an investigative journalist and executive producer of news at MongolTV, Mongolia. He has overseen the creation of MongolTV’s brand of journalism to become the most-watched prime-time news channel in Mongolia. A former court interpreter and ministerial aide, Erdene is a founding member of the Media Council of Mongolia, the country’s first-ever independent media council and currently serves on the ethics committee. He is a member of the Global Shaper Community – Mongolia, an initiative of the World Economic Forum, and was named a ‘30 under 30’ by Forbes Mongolia in 2015. Erdene earned a master’s degree from the Journalism and Media Study Centre of The University of Hong Kong and holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the Ulaanbaatar-Erdem Institute.

Jalila Haider (Pakistan)
Human Rights Attorney
Ms. Jalila Haider is a human right attorney and founder of We the Humans – Pakistan, a non-profit organization which works to lift local communities by strengthening opportunities for vulnerable women and children. She specializes in defending women’s rights and provides free counseling and legal services to poverty-affected women. The first female attorney of her Hazara community, an ethnic minority group in Baluchistan, in 2015, Haider was selected as one of ‘News Women Power 50’ list of Pakistan’s most influential and powerful women. In 2014, she was selected as an Atlantic Council Emerging Leaders of Pakistan Fellow and was a member of the first cohort of Pakistan Social Entrepreneurs by Rajeev Circle Fellows in 2015. She was also a 2016 Swedish Institute Young Connectors of the Future Fellow. Haider holds a master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Balochistan.

Kimberly Junmookda (Thailand)
Environmental Specialist
Ms. Kimberly Junmookda is Plan International’s Climate Change Specialist managing the organization’s climate adaptation program in Asia. She works to increase climate change awareness of children in Thailand and adjacent countries and works with communities to build resilience in a region most prone to climate-related disasters. Previously, Junmookda spent time at the Rockefeller Foundation where she helped launch the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) Network, a platform connecting those working to build resilience for the poor living in Asia’s secondary and megacities. She has worked as a Program Officer for Institute of International Education (IIE)’s USAID HARVEST project, an initiative to build climate change adaptation, environmental, and natural resources management capacity. Junmookda holds a master’s degree from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree from University of Redlands.

Surya Karki (Nepal)
Education Non-profit Director
Mr. Surya Karki is the United World Schools Director to Nepal, where he oversees the education of more than 650 children and the construction of thirty-five primary schools in the Sankhuwasabha and Gulmi districts. He is also the co-founder and CEO of the Diyalo Foundation, which works to develop sustainable, energy, education, agriculture in Nepal. In 2014, he was awarded the Prince of Wales and UNILEVER Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Award, and in 2016, he was recognized as one of 30 under 30 International Literacy Association leaders. Karki is currently working on a master’s degree in Global Affairs in Economics and Business at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Ecology from the College of the Atlantic.

Savin Mao (Cambodia)
Investment Manager
Mr. Savin Mao is a founding member of Emerging Markets Investment Advisers (EMIA), a private equity fund managing investments in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. He also a co-founder of the Cambodia Investor Club, a financing platform supporting young entrepreneurs’ access to innovative financing solutions. Mao also co-founded CRDT, a local NGO working to improve livelihood of rural communities whilst conserving natural resources, and co-founded CWF, a conversational English training institution providing English training to disadvantaged students and generating sustained income for CRDT. Mao holds a Master of Business in Finance from Charles Sturt University, Australia, and a Bachelor of Business Management in Accounting from Maharishi Vedic University.

Febriarti Mudjiono (Indonesia)
Social Entrepreneur
Ms. Febriarti Mudjiono is the founder of Bintang Sejahtera, a waste management social enterprise. She has been actively engaged in economic and community development, environmental protection, and women and youth empowerment on Lombok Island for ten years. She has also participated in a number of international exchange programs in Canada and the United States to strengthen her role as young women leader in West Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia. Mudjiono was awarded the Indonesian Women of Change by US Embassy Jakarta in 2015, and the Tupperware ‘She Can’ Award, held by Tupperware Fortune Indonesia, which recognizes 58 inspiring Indonesian women who work in community empowerment, education, and local development. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English Education from Mataram University.

Iromi Perera (Sri Lanka)
Urban Development Policy Researcher
Ms. Iromi Perera is a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a think tank based in Colombo, and leads Social Indicator, CPA’s public opinion polling unit. Iromi’s research and advocacy focuses on urban development and displacement, specifically looking at the experiences of the Sri Lankan Government’s vision to transform the capital city of Colombo into a “world-class city.” In 2015, she was awarded a Fulbright Professional Scholar Fellowship and was based at the Urban Institute in Washington DC. She is also a co-curator of The Picture Press, an online platform that uses photographs as an entry point into broader development issues facing Sri Lanka and South Asia. Perera holds a post graduate diploma in Development Studies from Colombo University, and a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Sociology from Christ College in Bangalore.

Kyi Pyar Chit Saw (Myanmar)
Governance Consultant & Women’s Nonprofit Founder
Ms. Kyi Pyar Chit Saw is a Consultant with The World Bank group’s Myanmar public sector modernization program. She has published reports on local governance, public administration reform, and decentralization with the Myanmar Development Resource Institute/Center for Economic Social Development (MDRI-CESD) and The Asia Foundation. She also serves as a Board Member and Donor Relationship and Strategic Advisor for the Action for Public, a nonprofit focusing on women empowerment and economic development, which she co-founded in 2008. Saw was a 2015 Trust Women scholar, awarded to outstanding leaders around the world working on women issues. She is also a Fulbright Scholar and recently graduated from the Executive Master of Public Administration program at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University.

Khouanfa Siriphone (Laos)
Writer & Social Entrepreneur
Mr. Khouanfa Siriphone is co-founder of STELLA, a social enterprise that supports youth development in Laos. He has combined his background in communication, capacity development, entertainment, and education in an “edutainment” approach to bring creative thinking, problem solving, and social inclusion training to more than 300 Lao youth. Siriphone was previously a Communication Officer at the Learning House for Development, a network of Lao Not-for Profit Associations. He was also appointed Curator of Global Shaper Vientiane Hub, an initiative of the World Economic Forum. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Creative Industries from Queensland University of Technology. 

Trina Talukdar (India)
Gender Empowerment Activist
Ms. Trina Talukdar is co-founder of Kranti, which transforms underage girls from red-light areas into leaders of social change. She is also a Venture Manager at Ashoka: Innovators for the Public where she explores models of work in social entrepreneurship, through Ashoka’s Fellow Selection and Support process. In 2014-2015, Trina took a year-long sabbatical from Ashoka to become an Atlas Corps Fellow working with American Express, Philanthropy, in Washington, D.C. and New York on the American Express Leadership Academy Alumni Network for nonprofit leaders. In 2012, she was featured by The Week magazine in London as one of the top 30 most inspirational leaders of the year for her work with Kranti. Talukdar holds a master’s degree in Medical and Psychiatric Social Work from Christ University in Bangalore, and a bachelor’s degree in English, Political Science and Sociology from St. Xavier’s College in Kolkata.

The 2017 leadership program will include a customized Leadership Training Program in Korea held in partnership with the Korea Development Institute; an applied Workshop on Asian Development in Vietnam; a small grant of up to $5,000 for each Fellow to design a custom professional development project; a mentoring program that links Fellows with experienced development thinkers who have participated in Asia’s progress and growth; and, in September, a capstone two-week leadership dialogue and exchange in San Francisco, New York City and Washington, D.C.

Previous years’ programs took the Fellows to Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines, and Singapore. To learn more the fellowship program, watch this video featuring earlier cohorts of social entrepreneurs, activists, and innovators.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region addresses five overarching goals—strengthen governance, empower women, expand economic opportunity, increase environmental resilience, and promote regional cooperation.

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

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Related locations: San Francisco
Related programs: Asia Foundation Development Fellows

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