Announcing the 2024 LeadNext Fellows: Ambassadors for a Global Future

San Francisco, January 23, 2024 — The Asia Foundation is pleased to announce the 2024 LeadNext Fellows: Ambassadors for a Global Future class.

LeadNext is The Asia Foundation’s dynamic new program focused on global citizenship for the 21st century. LeadNext builds a vibrant network of future leaders aged 18-25 from across the Asia-Pacific region and the United States to support their growth, impact, and capacity to address today’s greatest challenges.

Over the next decade, profound structural changes will transform our geopolitical landscape; it’s imperative that the next generation of leaders be equipped to navigate these evolving shifts. Positive and lasting change depends on leaders who can move ideas and action forward to address rising inequality, find solutions to climate crises, mitigate conflict, and empower communities. LeadNext equips emerging leaders across cultures and disciplines with strong international networks, diverse experiences, and leadership tools to thoughtfully steer the future.

The six-month program features a leadership training intensive, masterclasses with global experts, one-on-one mentorships, and a culminating in-person Global Leaders Summit. Utilizing a layered and tailored curriculum focusing on inclusion, cross-cultural communication, empathy, and self-awareness, LeadNext readies a new generation of globally-minded leaders for impactful social and environmental work.

For decades, The Asia Foundation has invested in leaders at all levels, knowing that change depends on policies and programs and the people who lead them. The LeadNext program focuses on future leaders in the nascent stages of their careers.

Meet the 2024 LeadNext Fellows:

Enkhuun Byambadorj | She/Her | 22 | Mongolia is Co-founder and Director of Operations at Breathe Mongolia – Clean Air Coalition, a nonprofit working to eradicate Mongolia’s air pollution crisis. A climate and health equity advocate, she works to build local community capacity. She is a Global Shaper, One Young World Ambassador, and was a youth negotiator at UNFCCC COP28.

Max Han Kai Ding | He/Him | 22 | Malaysia co-founded Youths United for Earth (YUFE), Malaysia’s leading grassroots nonprofit, mobilizing youth to environmental action through local storytelling, campaigns, and advocacy. He is working with environmental defenders and policymakers to draft Southeast Asia’s first Environmental Human Rights Framework with ASEAN.

Sereyvoleak Dy | She/Her | 23 | Cambodia is a program officer at Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Cambodia, a political think tank where she works to promote youth engagement in governance and policymaking. She received a fully funded scholarship to study International Relations at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, led the “Cambodia Festival of Ideas” youth program, a platform to envision the country’s future strategically, and served as a Youth Ambassador for Sustainable Development Goals in Cambodia.

Bryanna Entwistle | She/Her | 22 | United States is a writer based in New York City and a digital content specialist reporting on policy and cultural programming at Asia Society. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Mumbai and Singapore, she’s committed to telling stories that connect Asia and the U.S. She graduated from Dartmouth College with an award-winning honors thesis titled “After the Fall: Human Rights and U.S. Policy on the Cambodian Genocide.”

Bella Gomez | She/Her | 19 | United States is a distinguished Danforth Scholar at Washington University in St. Louis pursuing a joint degree in Latin American Studies and Global Studies with a minor in Education. She volunteers at a local public school, supports grant writing at the local and international nonprofits East Side Aligned and The Thirst Project, and is a research assistant at the early learning startup “ThinkPlayful.” She is pursuing a career in public health and humanitarian and youth development.

Deziree Harmon | She/Her | 20 | United States studies Interactive Media and Business with a minor in Computer Science at NYU Shanghai. She is dedicated to leveraging technology for educational empowerment and brings a background in Design Thinking, journalism, and teaching. She is passionate about educational technology and aspires to use technology to create transformative and inclusive learning experiences.

Jorge Hernandez-Perez | He/Him | 20 | United States is a first-generation Cuban American and advocate for economic justice and equitable education. A Southeast U.S. Youth of the Year awardee, he works with Columbia University’s Policy Institute Education Center and as a research assistant for the Energy, Equity, Housing, and Health Program, the Center on Poverty and Social Policy, and has championed equitable education policies on a national scale.

Shannon Yunran Hong | She/Her | 25 | United States is a Chinese American writer and technologist based in San Francisco, CA, and founder of the tech ethics consultancy, Agapai, which advises organizations on ethical technology practices. She serves as the strategic planning committee chair on the board of CounterPulse, an experimental performing arts nonprofit that incubates the creation of socially relevant, community-based art and culture, and edits the Asian American lit column APIA-nionated in ANMLY magazine.

Maha Husain | She/Her | 24 | Pakistan is a legal researcher specializing in climate change law, environmental law, and public international law. She is the team lead of the Climate & Environment Initiative and a research associate at the Research Society of International Law, Pakistan’s largest legal think-tank for promoting access to environmental justice and strengthening complaint and remedy mechanisms for victims of environmental rights violations. Maha completed her law degree from the University of Cambridge, where she earned the Senior Harris Scholarship.

Engel Laisina | She/Her | 24 | Indonesia is an indigenous environmental advocate raised with an understanding of the interconnectedness of humans and nature. An environmental rights advocate, she actively campaigns to address the climate crisis and its impact on small islands such as her home archipelago province, Maluku. She created the #TarusJagaRumah campaign, a platform for creating environmental projects and collaboration between grassroots environmental communities in Maluku.

Tashi Lhazom | She/Her | 22 | Nepal is a prominent climate activist working at the intersection of climate action, gender equality, indigenous rights, and political literacy. Born in an indigenous herding community in the remote Himalayan Limi Valley, she is a first-generation college graduate, has spoken at grassroots, national, and global platforms, is co-founder of two civil society initiatives, and is project coordinator of Limi Youth Society. She is a researcher and filmmaker using storytelling to bring awareness to critical climate challenges in the Himalayan region.

Surah Marks-Trammell | She/Her | 22 | United States works to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in government practices. Currently a DEI intern for Ohio’s Montgomery County local government, she is taking a leading role in creating the county’s Equity Plan and curating events to promote sustainability. Passionate about equal rights and intersectional research, she has a background in nonprofit work and studied Ethnic Studies and Sociology at Bowling Green State University.

Ananya Mathur | She/Her | 22 | Singapore is pursuing a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics with a minor in Gender Studies at the National University of Singapore. She is an active student leader and works on a project to uplift the voices of sex workers in Singapore. Her research is focused on gender and addressing the needs of minorities in various communities, including migrant workers, indigenous land rights, and political communication.

Audrey Meigs | She/Her | 22 | United States is the program assistant for Educator Diversity at The Hunt Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to building an equitable education system by conducting research and engaging with legislators and educators nationwide. A transnational Chinese adoptee, she is passionate about Asian diasporic communities. She has worked with several ASAPI organizations, including OCA Asian Pacific Advocates, North Carolina Asian Americans Together, and the 1882 Foundation, focusing on projects related to intercountry adoption policy, the revitalization of Chinatowns, AAPI curriculum, and international relations between the U.S. and Asia Pacific.

Trần Thảo Nguyên | They/Them | 23 | Vietnam is a project manager of pioneering robotics and FIRST Tech Challenge and co-founder of Vietnam STEAM programs and Vietnam Robotics Challenge, which supports more than 1,000 young, underprivileged, passionate STEM students in Vietnam. The only STEM scholarship recipient in the social sciences at Fulbright University Vietnam, they aim to use science, technology, and education to unlock local opportunities and drive economic and social development.

Anitvir Singh Taunque | He/Him | 21 |  United States leads OSU Red Saree, a nonprofit dedicated to improving health literacy and decreasing heart disease within diverse populations. Passionate about addressing global health disparities and building culturally competent healthcare systems, he volunteers at free health clinics and has received a $50,000 accelerator award to build ServUS Volunteering Corp, a sustainability startup focused on student volunteering. He is an aspiring physician studying Biomedical Science at The Ohio State University.

Michaela Tse | She/Her | 20 | United States studies Global Studies, Business, and Japanese at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dedicated to international health policy and access to healthcare resources in underserved communities, she spent six months in Japan researching holistic medical interventions. In 2024, she will research policy measures for effective HIV/AIDS surveillance in Malawi. She has created an Asian-American writing club and a cookbook of recipes from friends worldwide.

Leki Tshering | He/Him | 24 | Bhutan is a bar-certified lawyer holding a B.A. LLB/Post Graduate Diploma in National Law from JSW School of Law and a Diploma in Economic, Social, and Developmental Rights from Kathmandu School of Law, Nepal. With a range of policy experience working on child protection and wildlife protection, he works as a Junior Lecturer at JSW School of Law and a Country Consultant for the Global Campus Regional Conference on Children’s Mental Health.

Laura Vorbach | She/Her | 23 | United States is a master’s candidate in National and International Administration and Policy at the University of Potsdam. She worked for the Manhattan District Attorney and saw how the criminal justice system impacts people’s lives. Working at the U.S. Department of State, she witnessed how policy priorities transform into dialogue at the UN and other international forums. She is pursuing a career in public service, focusing on international law, global justice development, and equitable sustainable development.

Marciano Lopes Zemecas | He/Him | 20 | Timor-Leste works with Timor-Leste Youth for Peace and is the founder and President of the Timor-Leste Human Rights Defenders Movement, an organization dedicated to eliminating discrimination against marginalized communities. As a law student, he holds recognition as a Youth Ambassador and Millennial Change Maker. Among his projects, he actively works on youth and justice and addresses gender-based violence with the Global Millennial United Nations.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives and expanding opportunities across Asia and the Pacific. Informed by 70 years of experience and deep local knowledge, our work is focused on governance, climate action, gender equality, education and leadership, inclusive growth, and international cooperation. We work in more than 20 countries through our 17 permanent country offices and programs across Asia and the Pacific, supported by a headquarters in San Francisco and an office in Washington, DC. Our funding comes from a diverse array of bilateral and multilateral development agencies, foundations, corporations, and individuals

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