Asia Foundation Announces the 2022 Margaret F. Williams Memorial Fellows

San Francisco, May 10, 2022 — The Asia Foundation and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco are pleased to announce Arlette Quynh-Anh Tran and Do Nguyen Tuong Vi (Vicky Do) as the 2022 Margaret F. Williams Memorial Fellows in Asian Art.

Arlette Quynh-Anh Tran is the curator and director of Post Vidai, a unique and significant collection of Vietnamese contemporary art based in Geneva and Saigon. She specializes in contemporary art and community engagement. She holds a master’s degree in Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts and has contributed to Art Review, Carnegie International, Asian Art Biennial, Istanbul Biennale, and the Hugo Boss Asia Award. Her practices focus on collaborative labor and aim to go beyond the aesthetic value of art, using visual language to interpret, question, and narrate layered perspectives of a topic. Arlette plans to build upon her existing management experience and grow her professional network in the United States, while expanding her artistic vision and discourse of Asian art.

Vicky Do is the assistant curator at San Art in Saigon. Her artistic practices include documentary filmmaking, still and moving images, texts, and installation. She graduated with honors from Texas Tech University and completed her master’s degree in Creative Media at the University of Hong Kong. She is a member of Floating Projects and Archive of the People Collective in Hong Kong SAR. Her works explore topics such as the Vietnamese diaspora in Hong Kong, urban development, and the micro-narratives of everyday life. Do plans to explore how art organizations act as catalysts for promoting humanitarian values and serve as agents of societal change.

The Margaret F. Williams Memorial Fellowship, held every other year, supports two emerging contemporary art curators with a unique three-month residency opportunity at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, under the purview of Abby Chen, head of Contemporary Art and senior associate curator. Fellows will contribute their perspectives on current trends in the contemporary art world to a project that is part of the active and ongoing work of the Contemporary Art department. Fellows also receive a $10,000 award to develop a unique study tour to advance their research, deepen their perspectives, and grow their professional networks.

Established by Asia Foundation President Emeritus Ambassador Haydn Williams, the fellowship honors his wife, Margaret F. Williams whose interest in Asian art was influenced by their travels to the region. The program looks to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion in the curatorial field by building the capacity of a younger generation of curators who bring diverse perspectives, especially those who have been marginalized by sexism, heterosexism, or racism and are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in their work.

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 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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Honoring Asia Foundation Trustee Emeritus Thomas Payne Rohlen

San Francisco, April 12, 2022 — The Asia Foundation mourns the loss of Trustee Emeritus Thomas Payne Rohlen, who died peacefully surrounded by family on March 6, 2022, at the age of 81. Rohlen served on The Asia Foundation’s Board of Trustees from 2008 to 2016. He was a Professor Emeritus and Senior Fellow with Stanford University’s Institute for International Studies, and a former Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. He also taught at the University of California, the University of Hawaii, and Harvard University. He served in Japan with the U.S. Foreign Service from 1962 to 1965. A Japan specialist by training, his research focused on such topics as Japanese corporate organization, the labor market, Japanese schooling, and, more broadly, on matters of economic and cultural change seen through the lens of contemporary institutional practice. 

Rohlen was also a founder of the Aspen Institute’s Executive Program on Japan, the Stanford Japan Center, and the Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies. The author or editor of nine books and numerous articles, his writings received several prizes including the Ohira Prize, the American Educational Research Critics’ Award, and the Berkeley Prize in Asian Studies. The American Anthropological Association presented him its Edward J. Lehman Award for Public Service in 1991. He received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton and earned a doctoral degree in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. 

Foundation President David D. Arnold marked Rohlen’s passing: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of Tom Rohlen as a trustee, friend, and advisor. The Asia Foundation was privileged to have Tom as part of the Foundation family. He contributed greatly to the work of the Board and was strongly committed to the Foundation’s programs and activities across the region. He will be deeply missed by all.”  
 
Tom was born on October 29, 1940, the oldest child of Karl and Frances Rohlen, and grew up in Winnetka, Illinois. Tom joined the faculty at Stanford University in 1980 where he held joint appointments at the Graduate School of Education and the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies. During his two decades at Stanford, Tom proved to be a rarity among academicians, seamlessly balancing the dual roles of educator and builder of interdisciplinary institutions and programs. After establishing the Asia Pacific Research Center at Stanford where he spent the bulk of his time as Senior Fellow, Tom also established the Stanford Center in Kyoto, Japan where he served as its first director. Additionally, Tom founded the executive program on Japan at the Asian Institute for Humanistic Studies. 

He was deeply admired and beloved as a husband, father, grandfather, colleague, and friend. He was an internationally respected academic, anthropologist, educator, program builder, philanthropist, policy analyst, and business consultant specializing in a wide expanse of research topics related to Japanese and Asian cultures. 

Rohlen is survived by his wife Shelagh who traveled with him often on his Asia Foundation trips, his children Ginger, Katie, Duke, Brooks, Alison, and Michael, his stepchildren Karen, Jean, and Sarah, 19 grandchildren, his brother Karl and sister-in-law Carolyn, and his sister Ann. At the board of trustees meeting in San Francisco next month, the Foundation will celebrate his life and observe a moment of silence to acknowledge Tom’s legacy of service to the Foundation and the people of Asia.  

The Asia Foundation Hosts Southeast Asian Inclusive Cities Dialogues – First Session Focused on Infrastructure and Services

April 8, 2022 — On Thursday, March 24, The Asia Foundation, in partnership with Ramboll, Kore Global, and the Asian Development Bank, brought together more than 120 stakeholders from 14 cities in six Southeast Asian countries for the first in a series of online dialogues under the DFAT-funded ASEAN Australia Smart Cities Trust Fund. The Trust Fund supports city governments across Southeast Asia to develop and implement innovative solutions to their most pressing planning challenges. The three-month Inclusive Cities Dialogues series is a forum for sharing effective practices in making ASEAN cities more inclusive for persons with disabilities, women, the urban poor, and other marginalized groups.

The content of the dialogues focuses on locally developed initiatives that can be replicated elsewhere. Participants and presenters included city and national government officials, civil society representatives, public-sector companies, and representatives of UN agencies and the ASEAN Secretariat. The first topic of discussion was infrastructure and access to services. The series will continue in May, with three sessions focusing on smart solutions to safety and security issues in urban areas.

The March dialogue opened with the Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls, Christine Clarke, emphasizing the importance of well-managed urbanization in Southeast Asia as cities grow larger and more economically important. She particularly noted that cities must become more inclusive. “Smart cities are inclusive cities,” she observed:

“Cities continue to be designed and built in ways that fail to address constraints for women to benefit and participate equally with men as leaders, entrepreneurs, workers, and users of infrastructure. Failure to consider the needs of women, girls, and vulnerable groups…fosters an environment in which problems of discrimination, violence, economic exclusion, and social instability arise or continue.”

In this first round of discussions, participants were encouraged to unpack the reasons for persistent and sometimes rising inequalities in cities across the region. Civil society representatives highlighted the inequalities and lack of opportunities to participate in decision-making within the region’s diverse cities. Jun Bernardino, who convenes the Philippines chapter of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), highlighted the “lack of accountability of local officials” and the lack of mechanisms for feedback or redress. “People in the community really cannot complain” about the challenges they face, he said.

He also noted flaws in the CRDP reporting process itself, which does not sufficiently incentivize governments to ratify the optional protocols. “I think it’s the same thing with the other international human rights instruments. There is no incentive for the government to respond to these, as it would be like penalizing themselves,” he said.

Bernardino also pointed out that there are significant weaknesses in social assessments for infrastructure projects, in particular where consultation processes are extremely short, and the task of making these meaningful is shouldered by civil society organizations.

Shiela May Aggarao of the Philippines also focused on the CRDP, arguing that more awareness of the budgeting process is needed. She called for a twin-track approach that mainstreams disability considerations throughout the budget to ensure accessibility in all programs while also pursuing disability-specific initiatives.

The presentations emphasized the potential to move this conversation forward by sharing examples of where, despite the enormous social, political, and economic challenges, some progress is being made. Chhorn Akhra, director of the Disability Service Development Unit of Cambodia’s Disability Action Council, explained his government’s efforts to implement the Technical Standards on Physical Accessibility in Infrastructure for Persons with Disabilities law passed by the government in 2019. Two years into implementation, Akhra noted, the accompanying training and dissemination activities within the government had gone well, and “there is good collaboration and support from relevant ministries,” but while that provides a good foundation, law enforcement is weak, and “dissemination of the standards to remote areas is limited due to lack of budget and support.”

Ong Be Leng, CEO of the Penang Women’s Development Corporation, discussed their successes in mainstreaming gender across budgets in key public-sector policies and creating platforms for women’s participation in urban governance. They have achieved this through a very targeted approach to government engagement, facilitating separate dialogues for women and men, according to age and ability, “so that all the voices are heard. Otherwise, if you put them all together, only certain voices are heard.” Be Leng highlighted one concrete outcome of this process: community ownership of street-cleaning contracts that has distinctly improved the local urban environment in Penang.

Other speakers shared their challenges and some of the solutions they have devised. Slamet Budi Umoto, who heads the Division of Social, Culture, and Government Affairs at the Regional Planning and Development Agency (Bappeda) in Semarang, Indonesia, discussed a range of initiatives, from making documentation more accessible to increasing the participation of people living with disabilities in education policies and programming and making infrastructure in the city more environmentally friendly and accessible. Liza Marzaman, Diego Ramirez-Lovering, and Kerrie Burge from the RISE program shared insights from their work in 12 informal settlements in Makassar, Indonesia, where they applied a holistic approach to urban water management by codesigning nature-based solutions with residents.

2022 Lotus Leadership Awards to Honor Reshma Saujani and G-Star RAW Denim Foundation for Expanding Opportunities for Women and Girls

New York City, March 30, 2022 — The Asia Foundation will host the 2022 Lotus Leadership Awards on April 6 at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City. The tenth Lotus Leadership Awards honors Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani, G-Star RAW Denim Foundation (GSRD), and the Kampuchea Action to Promote Education (KAPE) from Cambodia. The gala will also feature an appearance from NBC’s “Late Night” host Seth Meyers and remarks from Afghan activist and 2012 Lotus Leadership honoree Dr. Sakena Yacoobi.

The Asia Foundation and Lotus Circle are committed to expanding women’s and girls’ opportunities and advancing gender equality. They recognize the critical and life-changing work of these three Leadership Award honorees who have opened opportunities to young women that, in turn, will create a more inclusive and better world.

Reshma Saujani’s visionary leadership and commitment to gender equality and girls’ opportunities in STEM through her nonprofit Girls Who Code has empowered young women to see themselves as brave and resilient changemakers in the tech industry.

G-Star RAW Denim is a Dutch denim brand known for its pioneering, no-limits approach to fashion and sustainability. Fifteen years ago, they quietly created the GSRD Foundation, striving for empowerment and economic independence for young adults through education and entrepreneurship programs. Now a long-time partner of The Asia Foundation, GSRD invests directly in the communities across Vietnam, Bangladesh, and China where their denim is produced. The GSRD Foundation has a commitment to sharing profits with the countries where they manufacture, while also advancing women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment. This year, the 15th anniversary of GSRD Foundation, they are challenging other international companies to look at their sphere of influence beyond their supply chains.

Kampuchea Action to Promote Education (KAPE) is Cambodia’s most prominent education NGO and believes quality education for young girls is not simply an opportunity but a right. A longtime partner of The Asia Foundation, KAPE is bridging the gap in girls’ education in Cambodia by supporting them through their schooling and into employment.

“When women and girls gain access to the tools, networks, and resources they need, there is no limit to what they can achieve,” remark Lotus Leadership Awards co-chairs Cheng-Ling Chen, Laurette Hartigan, Missie Rennie, and Deshi Singh. “This years’ Lotus Leadership honorees share an extraordinary view of expanding opportunities to the maximum for women and girls. They are making lasting change, improving lives, and helping societies flourish. These are the very characteristics that define The Asia Foundation, and The Lotus Circle is thrilled to honor and collaborate with them,”

Funding from the Lotus Circle—a community of philanthropists committed to advancing women’s rights and opportunities in Asia—allows The Asia Foundation to seed and sustain innovative projects designed to advance women’s empowerment and gender equality in the region, including the Lotus Leadership Rapid Response Fund to address urgent needs. Proceeds from this evening will support work that makes a lasting impact on women’s and girls’ lives in Asia.

The Asia Foundation thanks our generous supporters: Premier sponsor Bank of America and Golden Benefactor Kirkland & Ellis.

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 focuses on good governance, women’s empowerment and gender equality, inclusive economic growth, environment and climate action, and regional and international relations.

Register for the 2022 Lotus Leadership Awards and learn more about the Lotus Circle.

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

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The Asia Foundation Launches Mobile Application to Expand Support for Women Entrepreneurs

Ulaanbaatar, March 25, 2022 — In Mongolia, The Asia Foundation launched its Women’s Business Center (WBC) Mobile Application with support from the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada and the Australian Government. The WBC has been providing essential business support services to women at their physical center in Ulaanbaatar since 2016 and the app will make these services accessible to entrepreneurs across Mongolia.

audience members sit at round tables

The launch was attended by over 80 women entrepreneurs, and representatives from civil society, private sector, government, embassies, and international donor organizations relevant to Mongolia’s gender equality movement. Opening remarks were delivered by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to Mongolia, H.E. Catherine Ivkoff, Member of Parliament Bulgantuya Khurelbaatar, General Secretariat of the National Committee on Gender Equality Enkhbayar Tumur-Ulzii, and Member of Parliament and Head of the Women’s Group in Parliament Sarangerel Davaajantsangiin.

H.E. Ambassador Ivkoff remarked, “We are thrilled with the launch of the WBC app, which will allow current and aspiring women entrepreneurs from anywhere in Mongolia digital access to important trainings, networking opportunities, and mentorship and empower them with the necessary tools to start and grow their businesses.”

Enkhjin Otgonbayar, CEO of the app developer TomYo EdTech, noted, “We see that current and aspiring women entrepreneurs, regardless of where they’re located, will gain tremendous access to information and empowerment through the WBC Mongolia App while maintaining a support network, which is in line with the core values of the Women’s Business Center to create a strong community of women entrepreneurs. Since Covid-19 has left many women entrepreneurs in Mongolia with less time to devote to their professional endeavors due to increased unpaid care responsibilities, a platform that provides both business and self-development skills is in high demand for women entrepreneurs who need flexible support and mentorship.”

group photo holding phones to show mobile app

The Asia Foundation, Mongolia’s Women’s Economic Empowerment project’s Covid-19 impact assessment revealed that women-owned micro and small businesses operating in the informal sector were disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic in Mongolia and that 90 percent of women surveyed did not know how to access industry information. Further, in an assessment conducted by the project with support from Give2Asia and the Lotus Circle to assess the digital engagement of women-owned micro, small, and medium enterprises, 97 percent of respondents reported that they use the internet and 93 percent reported they use a smartphone in their business activities. The WBC App will provide much-needed access to business skills and knowledge, personal development information, mentorship, and networking opportunities to women entrepreneurs as they work to recover and sustain their businesses in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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 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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Asia Foundation Launches Comprehensive Report on Cybersecurity in the Philippines

March 22, 2022 — The Asia Foundation and Secure Connections, a coalition advocating for improved cybersecurity, virtually launched the first-ever comprehensive review of cybersecurity governance in the Philippines. Cybersecurity in the Philippines: Global Context and Local Challenges traces the shifting nature of internet governance in the country, the cybersecurity posture of other countries, and how this can inform the Philippines’ cybersecurity positioning and measures. 

At the launch, two of the authors, Information and Communications Technology Policy Analyst Grace Mirandilla-Santos and Network Security Expert William Yu, pointed out that rapid digitalization increases cybersecurity risks. Globally, nations are becoming aware that the disruption of the information and communications technology (ICT) system is becoming a weapon of cyberwarfare.  

Putting cybersecurity measures in place, especially for critical infrastructures—physical or virtual assets vital to the nation’s security, health, and economic well-being—is a priority. The essential infrastructures are government services, transportation, energy, water, health, banking and finance, and telecommunications. The research team also cautioned against the misconception that the Philippines is not a target of malicious cyber actors. 

In his keynote speech, Acting Secretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology Emmanuel Rey Caintic, highlighted how the institution is at the forefront of developing cyber resilience and awareness initiatives guided by the National Cybersecurity Plan. An engaging discussion followed, with reactions from Dr. Sherwin Ona of De La Salle University and Director Carlos Reyes of the DICT Cyber Bureau. Concerns on cyber threats’ economic, social, and personal impact were shared with the audience.  

“By learning more about possible threats, we gain better footing on how to protect ourselves. The internet is referred to as the “web” for a reason. We are all linked together, and the compromise of one part could spell catastrophe for others. We must work to secure ourselves, not only for our sake but also for the sake of those around us,” said Angelo Niño Gutierrez, ICT policy researcher.  

Sam Chittick, The Asia Foundation country representative in the Philippines, encouraged stakeholders to deepen the crucial conversation on strengthening the nation’s cybersecurity institutions. “We hope this report will be a catalyst for conversation among those who care about cybersecurity in the Philippines. We hope it inspires more creative and constructive solutions to make digital platforms more cyber secure and promote cyber awareness for those who need it most.”  

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 is focused on good governance, women’s empowerment and gender equality, inclusive economic growth, environment, and climate action, and regional and international relations.

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

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95 New Development Entrepreneurs Gain Insights on Effective Policy Reform

March 17, 2022 — The Coalitions for Change (CfC) program concluded the second offering of its Development Entrepreneurship: 12 Keys to Successful Policy Reform online course on February 18. 

Since beginning on January 24, 2022, 95 participants from 13 countries have completed the four-week course, marking an increase from 76 participants in the previous batch.

The course featured curated case studies from real-life stories of policy reformers as well as innovative tools on adaptive management. On Fridays, those enrolled were able to complement lessons through listening to veteran reform leaders, such as:

    • Dr. Raul Fabella, a National Scientist and former Dean of the University of the Philippines School of Economics, discussed how elites negotiated political settlements;
    • Jaime Faustino, CfC Strategic Advisor, explained how policy reform could be an effective development approach;
    • Filomeno Sta. Anna III, founder of Action for Economic Reforms, talked about finding the binding constraints to development challenges;
    • Rosalyn Mesina, Philippines Program Manager of UN Women WeEmpowerAsia, shared her advocacy in applying DE using the gender lens; and
    • Nastassia Quijano, Senior Program Officer from the Australian Embassy in the Philippines, who spoke from a development partner’s perspective on the benefits of adaptive programs

In his opening remarks, Sam Chittick, The Asia Foundation’s country representative said “The program is designed to help you [learners] pursue the positive changes that you want to see in your communities and give you the tools to look at those changes through a policy lens.”

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven J. Robinson AO congratulated the online graduates and encouraged them to practice what they have learned in pursuing their policy reforms. “Today signals the beginning of your future as reform leaders, ready to take up opportunities to create meaningful and impactful change in the Philippines and across the Indo-Pacific,” said Ambassador Robinson.

Feedback from learners on the online course was overwhelmingly positive. The participants were able to study at their own pace.

“DE elegantly weaves the fine line between accepting our roles as policy influencers and what it takes to bring about that desired change. It is a must for all those pursuing policy reforms,” enthused Martin Escobido, Associate Professor of Ateneo de Davao University.

Dino Abellanosa, Senior Manager and the Visayas Lead of the Ayala Foundation, Inc., shares, “I’ve always been fascinated with policy work. The course gave me the tools and the practice of it in developing partnerships and in adaptive management. The live sessions helped a lot.”

The DE online course was first launched in July 2021 as part of CfC’s mission to share what it has learned with individuals who wish to pursue policy reforms for positive outcomes. Its approaches and practices come from many years of experience and its track record on policy reform work. CfC is supported by The Asia Foundation Philippines and the Australian Government.

The third offering of the DE Online Course will start second quarter of this year. Interested applicants may send inquiries or sign up on the mailing list. 

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 is focused on good governance, women’s empowerment and gender equality, inclusive economic growth, environment and climate action, and regional and international relations.

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

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The Asia Foundation Announces the 2022 Development Fellows

San Francisco, March 17, 2022 — The Asia Foundation announces the 2022 class of Asia Foundation Development Fellows: Emerging Leadership for Asia’s Future following a highly competitive selection process. Representing 12 Asian countries and a wide range of disciplines, the 2022 Development Fellows—nine women and three men—are emerging leaders in their fields, bringing bold, innovative thinking and a deep commitment to addressing Asia’s most complex issues. The 12 fellows selected are from Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.

The Asia Foundation Development Fellows program brings exceptional individuals into a powerful network of emerging leaders working to improve lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Now in its eighth year, the program includes 94 current and alumni fellows across Asia, forming an active and inspirational network of the region’s most promising leaders from diverse cultures, countries, and work environments, including government, civil society, academia, and social enterprise.

Meet the 2022 Development Fellows:

Fereshta Abbasi (Afghanistan) is a human rights lawyer and researcher working at Human Rights Watch to document ongoing abuses in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

Mac Andre Arboleda (Philippines) is a cultural worker, publisher, and digital rights advocate, and is the founding president of the UP Internet Freedom Network, a nonprofit organization in the Philippines committed to digital rights advocacy through educational discussions, information campaigns, and special projects.

Kuenzang Dolma (Bhutan) is a lecturer at Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law, Bhutan’s first and only law school, where she has designed and developed alternative dispute resolution courses in negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.

Saro Imran (Pakistan) is a young transgender advocate and social entrepreneur for the socioeconomic development of marginalized communities, and in 2020 she launched the PINK Center, the first space for transgender entrepreneurs in Pakistan.

Randika Anjalie Jayasinghe (Sri Lanka) is a practitioner, researcher, and academic whose work focuses on waste upcycling and the circular economy, exploring creative and innovative ways to use discarded materials, particularly non-degradable materials not normally recycled through conventional methods.

Rina Komiya (Japan) is an international human rights practitioner focused on gender and refugee protection who has worked across Japan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Jordan, and Bangladesh.

Lan Anh Lo (Vietnam) is a producer and news anchor for Vietnam’s national broadcaster Vietnam Television where she produces and hosts numerous primetime shows including the most-watched news program in Vietnam, the Good Morning Show, and the country’s first-ever show in English, Talk Vietnam.

Pankaj Prakash Mahalle (India) is co-founder and CEO of GramHeet, a social enterprise that aims to increase smallholder farmers’ income by providing integrated post-harvest services through a digital platform.

Patrya Pratama (Indonesia) is executive director of INSPIRASI Foundation, an Indonesia-based nonprofit established to improve school leadership, and part of the Global School Leaders, a network of like-minded organizations in developing countries.

Selvamalar Selvaraju (Malaysia) is a social entrepreneur and human rights advocate focused on the development and empowerment of underprivileged women, children, and minorities in Malaysia.

Irina Sthapit (Nepal) is an engineer, educator, and innovator who is passionate about empowering girls in STEM and actively works towards bridging the gender gap through her work with organizations like Nepali Women in Computing and her Instagram page @girlytoolz.

Mengdi Tao (China) is an advocate for women’s empowerment and children’s education currently serving as a program director at Laoniu Brother & Siter Foundation, where she is responsible for managing children’s welfare and family philanthropy projects in China and overseas.

This yearlong career advancement program takes on a multifaceted approach to leadership which includes two intensive Leadership Dialogue and Exchange programs, one in Asia and a second in the United States, The coursework explores the Fellows’ leadership styles, helps to develop their stories, and expand their innovative thinking. This April, Fellows will meet for the Asian Development study tour program, a webinar series led by development practitioners, recognized policy leaders, and local 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 is focused on good governance, women’s empowerment and gender equality, inclusive economic growth, environment, and climate action, and regional and international relations.

Read more about the Foundation’s work

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Let’s Read Publishes Six Picture Books on Child Rights in Nepal

March 9, 2022 — The Asia Foundation and Srijanalaya–an NGO based in Nepal–in collaboration with National Human Rights Commission, launch six picture books for children and young adults. Organized by KathaSatha, the two-day launch festivities will include readings, conversations, and discussions. The opening launch event will start at 11 am March 10 in Nepal. All launch events will be broadcasted live via the Facebook pages of Srijanlaya, Let’s Read Nepal, NHRC and KathaSatha.

The six beautifully crafted stories compel readers to discuss the complex topics of juvenile justice,  bullying, harassment, and child labor, as well as caste, ethnicity, and disability-based discrimination. Each book tells a unique story that addresses the intersectionality of child rights in Nepal. Varying in subject, style, and texture; the stories take us on a journey from the hills of Panchthar to the villages of Sikles by way of Hetauda and Kathmandu.

Muna Gurung, the managing editor, collaborated with and led a team of six writers and eight illustrators through a fifteen-month period to conceive, create, and bring this insightful collection to life. The writers include Bina Theeng, Pranika Koyu, Sarita Pariyar, Swapnil Smriti, Tirtha Gurung, and Ujjwala Maharjan. The illustrators are Alina Chhantel, DidiBahini (Dristi Manandhar & Keepa Manandhar), PayalSapanaPaints (Pallavi Payal and Sapana Sanjeevani), Roseena Sakya, Rupak Raj Sunuwar, and Swornim Shakya.

The creation of these six picture books is supported by The Asia Foundation’s Let’s Read initiative and will be available for free to read in both Nepali and English on the Let’s Read digital library and its iOS and Android apps.

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 is focused on good governance, women’s empowerment and gender equality, inclusive economic growth, environment, and climate action, and regional and international relations.

Read more about the Let’s Read! Initiative. 

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The Asia Foundation Announces New Board Leadership, Trustees

San Francisco, March 1, 2022 — The Asia Foundation, a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia, announced new leadership on the Board of Trustees at the January 2022 meeting. S. Timothy Kochis was elected as chair of the board; Ambassador Kathleen Stephens and Janet Montag were elected as vice-chairs, and Michael J. Green was elected as secretary of the board. At this meeting, The Asia Foundation’s David D. Arnold also informed the Board of Trustees that he is planning to step down as President at the end of 2022. This is Arnold’s twelfth year leading the Foundation and a robust process for recruiting and selecting his successor will be led by a specially constituted search committee of the board under the leadership of Vice-Chair Amb. Kathy Stephens.

In addition, three new members joined the board: Lin Jamison, Clare Lockhart, and Adil Najam. Lockhart and Najam have previously served on the board. This meeting marked the transition of members Howard Berman, Elizabeth Economy, Amb. Mark Lippert, Lauren Kahea Moriarty, Chairman Sunder Ramaswamy, and Term Trustees Dustin Palmer and Iromi Perera.

New members:

Lin Jamison joined The Asia Foundation’s Lotus Circle in 2012, with the goal of expanding the group’s presence among New York City’s young professionals. She established the Young Lotus Circle in 2013, hosting regular social and fundraising events to benefit the Foundation’s work on gender equality. Outside of the Lotus Circle, Lin is the Founder of Gem X, a social club for jewelry enthusiasts with over 1,000 members around the world. She is also the owner of Lin Jamison Jewelry, which offers bespoke jewelry consulting and design services to private clients.

Clare Lockhart is co-founder and director of ISE, which focuses on the functions of the state and approaches to enhancing the compact between citizens and state. She has lectured widely and written several articles and chapters on state and market functionality, development, institution-building, and citizenship. Lockhart is a senior fellow of the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale where she teaches graduate courses on post-conflict and other transitions. She has lectured widely on issues of state and market functionality, accountability, and development.

Adil Najam is the dean of the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University. He was formerly Vice-Chancellor of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and a globally recognized authority on international environment and development policy. He has served as the Frederick S. Pardee Professor of Global Public Policy and the Director of the Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University (2007-11) and prior to that as Associate Professor of International Negotiation and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University (2002-07).

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