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The Asia Foundation Selects William P. Fuller Fellows in Peacebuilding

San Francisco, July 24, 2023 — The Asia Foundation announces the 2023 class of William P. Fuller Fellows in Peacebuilding. The three fellows from Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka are emerging peacebuilding leaders committed to advancing their knowledge and skills.

The evolving complexity of subnational conflicts in the 21st century requires significant investment in an emerging generation of leaders to innovate and drive solutions for peace. The William P. Fuller Fellowship in Peacebuilding is dedicated to the professional development of the next generation of leaders committed to addressing conflict and peacebuilding in Asia and the Pacific. The Foundation’s Board of Trustees first established the program in 2004 to honor William P. Fuller’s 15-year tenure as president of The Asia Foundation. This tribute reflects the organization’s long-standing commitment to the field and Fuller’s concern for furthering the professional development of young Asians with the leadership potential and professional commitment to advance their knowledge on managing subnational conflicts.

The 2023 program is the first in-person cohort of the William P. Fuller Fellowship in Peacebuilding. Following a redesign, this revamped program renews the Foundation’s commitment to furthering peacebuilding efforts in the Asia-Pacific region by supporting three fellows instead of one individual each year. The small cohort model supports the development of a professional network and close collaboration, and the new program structure emphasizes network-building between fellows and the global peacebuilding community and works to support and elevate the fellows’ development and work.

Each fellow will receive a $5,000 grant to support their individually tailored projects or advance professional goals. The program year will include extended engagement with the Foundation’s Leadership & Exchange programs unit and the Conflict & Fragility programs. The heart of the program is a 12-day Study Tour and Peacebuilding Exchange in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, and Washington D.C.  

Fuller Fellows are early or mid-career professionals with demonstrated leadership in peacebuilding who actively promote peace through research, advocacy, policymaking, or other realms bridging knowledge and implementation.

Meet the 2023 Fellows:

Nan San Nwe (Myanmar) has spent the last decade engaging in conflict-sensitive work, protection, and humanitarian interventions. Her research focuses on Conflict Transformation, Conflict Sensitivity, Social Cohesion, peace journalism, and humanitarianism with the Ethnic Nationalities Affairs Center in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which strives to foster sustainable peace within ethnic minority regions of Myanmar. In addition to her work focusing on local governance, gender, and minority rights, Nan San Nwe teaches young people civic education focusing on Peace and Conflict. Her previous roles include serving as a conflict specialist for the UNOPS Access to Health Fund project, a Business and Peace Program coordinator with American Friends Service Committee, a senior protection field officer for the ICRC, and a joint coordinator with the Shan Human Rights Foundation. Her research, practical work, and education efforts emphasize the importance of tackling root causes and taking transformative approaches to achieve sustainable peace. She is a member of the Shan ethnic group.

Shruthi De Visser (Sri Lanka) is a peacebuilding and gender researcher and activist with ten years of peacebuilding experience at the grassroots level. She currently heads the Sri Lanka team as project coordinator for Everyday Peace Indicators and manages ongoing research on how reconciliation is defined within local communities. She has worked in government and the nonprofit sector, researching Transitional Justice mechanisms and their relevance to Sri Lanka, peacebuilding, and gender issues. She has studied and advocated for gender inclusiveness in transitional justice and peacebuilding initiatives in Sri Lanka. In academia, Shruthi has focused her writings on the experiences of the Northern Tamil Women in Sri Lanka within a postwar context.

Maryam Rayed (Afghanistan) is a passionate peacebuilder and an advocate for women’s empowerment, strongly focusing on bottom-up democracy promotion, power distribution, and peaceful community development. Her expertise lies in supporting grassroots organizations, fostering freedom of speech, and advancing human rights. As the founding director of Afghanistan’s Women Think Tank, Rayed leads impactful grassroots research and advocacy efforts, creating a secure platform for women’s meaningful participation in political and social spheres within rural Afghanistan. With a robust community mobilization, subnational governance, and peacebuilding background, she has held leadership positions in key government organizations, including the Ministry of Peace and Rural Development, and local governance bodies.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives and expanding opportunities across Asia and the Pacific. Informed by decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region is focused on good governance, women’s empowerment and gender equality, inclusive economic growth, environment and climate action, and regional and international relations.

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Eelynn Sim, Director, Strategy and Programs
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