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Advancing Leadership in Asia: 2018 Asia Foundation Development Fellows

February 14, 2018

By David L. Kim

Rapid growth in Asia is transforming the world’s most populous region, which by 2030 will represent two-thirds of the global middle class. While the most dynamic and transformative region in the world, Asia faces pressing challenges such as youth unemployment, rising inequality, pervasive conflicts, and urbanization. Given the diversity of Asia’s populations and cultures, and the depth and complexity of Asian’s extraordinary development challenges, the need for supporting creative, inspired, and transformative next-generation leadership has never been more imperative.

The Asia Foundation just announced the fifth cohort of its Asia Foundation Development Fellows: Emerging Leadership for Asia’s Future program-made up of 12 talented social-impact professionals from 11 Asian countries-to take part in the year-long professional advancement program. Selected from over 1,100 applicants, the 2018 fellows are emerging leaders in their fields working on the frontlines of change and development, and represent a diverse mix of backgrounds and cultures, country contexts, and work environments, including government, law, NGO and civil society, finance, corporate social responsibility, social enterprise, and the media.

The Asia Foundation launched the fellowship program in 2014 as a new platform to advance learning and leadership for Asia’s young, reform-minded professionals. Each year, the program brings together change-makers from a diverse range of backgrounds, working environments, cultures, and country contexts to build practical leadership skills and extend leadership capabilities and potential.

2017 Asia Dev Fellows

2017 Asia Foundation Development Fellows engage during a leadership workshop.

In April, the program will convene the new fellows for workshops on leadership development in Korea and Asian development in Sri Lanka. In September, fellows gather again for a leadership dialogue and exchange in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Meet the 2018 Development Fellows:

Ms. Apsari Dewi (Indonesia) is a specialist in Indonesian and international criminal law with 15 years of experience working as a public prosecutor and for the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic of Indonesia prosecuting general crimes, terrorism crimes, and transnational crimes.

Mr. Ashutosh Kumar (India) is the executive director of Jagriti, a non-profit organization that supports entrepreneurship in rural areas through his 15-day entrepreneurship course which takes place along a 5,000-mile train ride across India.

Ms. Dolgion Aldar (Mongolia) is a research professional focused on promoting evidence-based policy-making in Mongolia, previously CEO of the Independent Research Institute of Mongolia (IRIM), one of the country’s first organizations to promote independent and third-party research.

Ms. Hansani Chapa Perera (Sri Lanka) is a member of the Faculty of Law at the University of Colombo and an executive committee member at the Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network.

Ms. LuanJiao Hu (China) is a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, with a focus on disability studies, gender studies, and education for people with disabilities.

Ms. Melissa Chong (Singapore) is a program manager at the ASEAN CSR Network (ACN), a regional network of corporate social responsibility (CSR) organizations striving to build a responsible business community across Southeast Asia.

Ms. Natashya Gutierrez (Philippines) is a political and investigative reporter, with a focus on human rights and women’s issues in the Philippines and Indonesia.

Ms. Nawmi Naz Chowdhury (Bangladesh) is a legal researcher and women’s rights activist, and currently a senior program officer at the Asia-Pacific Resource and Resource Centre for Women, a regional NGO based in Kuala Lumpur. 

Ms. Sikieng Sok (Cambodia) is a STEM and computer technology educator, currently a curriculum developer for Saturday Kids, an extracurricular education program that teaches technological literacy to children.

Ms. Jessica Aung (Myanmar) is an investment professional and social entrepreneur dedicated to growing sustainable business in Myanmar.

Mr. Ta Ngoc Van (Vietnam) is the chief lawyer at Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, a charity that advocates for homeless, disabled, and rescued trafficked children in Vietnam.

Mr. Vaibhav Lodha (India) is the co-founder of ftcash, one of India’s fastest growing financial inclusion technology enterprises serving the underserved micro-merchants in India through digital payments and loans.

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

David L. Kim is director of Leadership & Exchange Programs at The Asia Foundation (LeadEx), and director of the Asia Foundation Development Fellows 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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