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A New Generation of Reformers: 2017 Asia Foundation Development Fellows

February 15, 2017

By David L. Kim

Asia is home to 60 percent of the world’s population, and by 2030, the region will represent two-thirds of the global middle class and account for over 40 percent of global middle-class consumption. While the most dynamic and transformative region in the world, Asia’s challenges surrounding youth unemployment, rising inequality, pervasive conflicts, and urbanization are ever more pressing.

Given the diversity of Asia’s populations and cultures, and the depth and complexity of Asia’s extraordinary development challenges, the need for 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 its 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—drawing participants from across disciplines, working environments, cultures, and country contexts to build practical leadership skills and extend leadership capabilities and potential.

The Foundation is pleased to announce its fourth cohort of Development Fellows—seven women and five men representing 11 countries—to take part in the yearlong 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 2017 Development Fellows are:

Nureen Anisha is a researcher and activist in the field of climate change, environment, and water resources in Bangladesh. An engineer by training, she is also an award-winning public speaker, debate coach, and TV show host of “Projonmo Agami,” which raises awareness on religious tolerance, communal harmony, civic responsibility, and other contemporary social issues impacting youth in Bangladesh.

Lkhagva Erdene is an investigative journalist and executive producer of news at Mongol TV in Mongolia. In his role at Mongol TV, he has helped to earn its position as 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.

Jalila Haider is a human rights attorney and founder of We the Humans, a non-profit that works to lift local communities by strengthening opportunities for vulnerable women and children in Pakistan. 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, Haider was selected in 2015 to “News Women Power 50,” a list of Pakistan’s most influential and powerful women, and in 2014, was selected as an Atlantic Council Emerging Leaders of Pakistan Fellow.

Kimberly Junmookda is a climate change specialist at Plan International, where she works to increase climate change awareness of children in Thailand and adjacent countries and works with communities to build resilience to climate-related disasters. Previously, Junmookda helped launch the Rockefeller Foundation’s 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.

Surya Karki is the school director for United World in Nepal, where he oversees the education of more than 650 children and the construction of 35 primary schools in the Sankhuwasabha and Gulmi districts. He is also co-founder and CEO of the Diyalo Foundation, which promotes sustainable development in under-served rural communities. 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.

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 the Queensland University of Technology.

Savin Mao is a founding member of Emerging Markets Investment Advisers (EMIA), a private equity fund managing investments in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. He is 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 while conserving natural resources, and co-founded CWF, an institution that provides English-language training to disadvantaged students and generating sustained income for CRDT.

Febriarti Mudjiono is the founder of Bintang Sejahtera, a waste management social enterprise in Indonesia. For the past 10 years, she has been actively engaged in economic and community development, environmental protection, and women and youth empowerment on Lombok Island. Mudjiono was awarded the Indonesian Women of Change by the U.S. Embassy Jakarta in 2015, and the Tupperware She Can Award, which recognizes 58 inspiring Indonesian women who work in community empowerment, education, and local development.

A. Naveed Noormal is the policy implementation coordinator at the Office of the Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs in Afghanistan. He was in-charge officer of the Heart of Asia–Istanbul Process within the Regional Cooperation Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, and head of operations and program manager for the U.S. Embassy Projects in Kabul. In 2014, he was selected as a Fulbright Scholar at Brandeis University.

Iromi Perera is a senior researcher at the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a think-tank based in Sri Lanka, and leads Social Indicator, CPA’s public opinion polling unit. In her role, Iromi 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 based at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. 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.

Kyi Pyar Chit Saw is a consultant for the World Bank’s public sector modernization program in Myanmar. 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’s empowerment and economic development, which she co-founded in 2008. Saw was a 2015 Trust Women Scholar and a Fulbright Scholar.

Trina Talukdar is co-founder of Kranti, a non-profit that works to educate and empower underage girls from red-light areas in Mumbai to transform them 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, Talukdar 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 as one of the top 30 most inspirational leaders of the year.

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

David L. Kim is director of the Asia Foundation Development Fellows program, and coordinator of the Luce Scholars program. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and not those of The Asia Foundation or its funders.


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