Skip NavigationMenu

The Asia Foundation Announces the Pacific Women Climate Leaders Fellowship Program

San Francisco, March 14, 2024 — The Asia Foundation announces the inaugural class of Pacific Women Climate Leaders, a 10-day fellowship program designed to recognize, support, and amplify women’s voices driving climate solutions across the Pacific region. The three fellows selected for the 2024 class are from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga.

The fellowship brings three women climate leaders from the Pacific Islands to the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City to participate in the San Francisco Bioneers Conference. The fellows will engage in climate diplomacy training in New York City and attend meetings with climate-focused donors and climate justice organizations in both cities. The fellowship also offers seed grants to translate the fellows’ ideas into action.

Meet the 2024 Pacific Women Climate Leaders:

Lydia Nenai | Papua New Guinea is based in Fiji and is the Climate Change Project Development Specialist at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. As the previous Senior Project Officer at Papua New Guinea’s Climate Change Development Authority, she worked on the intersection of climate change and women’s development. She graduated with a master’s degree in climate change from the Australian National University, where she researched drought implications on gender in Papua New Guinea.

Amelia Faotusia | Tonga is currently a PhD candidate at The Australian National University’s Department of Pacific Affairs, researching the concept of the blue economy in oceans management policy and eco and cultural tourism in Tonga, Fiji, and New Zealand. She was previously an economist with the Development Aid Unit of the Tongan Government’s Ministry of Finance

Serena Lois Tiko Pickering | Fiji holds a bachelor of science and postgraduate diploma in Environmental Geoscience from the University of the South Pacific. Serena has worked in government and civil society and is currently in the private sector. She led the International Union for Conservation of Nature Global Youth Summit Oceania Region hub and was also involved in their Plastic Waste Free Islands project research. Serena is an avid volunteer who is passionate about mobilizing community efforts for environmental initiatives.

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.

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

For media inquiries, please visit our News Room.

Engage with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Call for Applications: 2024 Fuller Fellowship Peacebuilding

San Francisco, March 13, 2024 — Applications open on March 18 for the 2024 William P. Fuller Fellowship in Peacebuilding. Fuller Fellows are early or mid-career professionals with demonstrated potential for leadership in the peacebuilding field and who are actively working to promote peace through research, advocacy, policymaking, community practice, or other realms.

The Asia Foundation will welcome a cohort of three fellows from Asia and the Pacific region. The fellowship emphasizes network-building between fellows and the global peacebuilding community to support and elevate their development and work.

The heart of the program will be a study tour and peacebuilding exchange in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, and Washington D.C. from October 13-26. Fellows will also participate in supplementary virtual seminars with The Asia Foundation’s Conflict & Fragility and Leadership & Exchange programs. The Foundation will provide a flexible USD $5,000 grant for each fellow to support their individually tailored projects or advance their professional goals.

The evolving complexity of the subnational conflict in the 21st century requires significant investment in an emerging generation of committed 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-Pacific. The Foundation’s Board of Trustees first established the program in 2004 to honor William Fuller’s 15-year tenure as president of the Foundation. This tribute reflects the organization’s long-standing commitment to the field and Fuller’s particular concern for furthering the professional development of young Asians with the leadership potential and professional commitment to advance knowledge and practice regarding the management of subnational conflicts.

Applications for the William P. Fuller Fellowship in Peacebuilding close on May 12, 2024.

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.

Learn more about the Foundation’s work.

For media inquiries, please visit our News Room. Engage with us on Facebook, Twitter,LinkedIn, and Instagram.

The Asia Foundation’s Future Skills Alliance Launches Phase Two of STEM ConnectHER, Paving the Way for Women in STEM

March 1, 2024 — The Asia Foundation’s Future Skills Alliance (FSA) launches the second phase of STEM ConnectHER. The initiative aims to promote women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in Asia and the Pacific. Building on its successful pilot in 2021, the program will expand its network in Korea, Japan, India, Malaysia, and Singapore and provide mentorship and professional development opportunities to up to 1,000 aspiring and early-in-career women in STEM. 

Globally, women are often underrepresented in STEM, accounting for only 29% of entry-level positions and 12% of C-suite roles. The same issue persists in Asia and the Pacific, where less than a third of female students choose to study higher education courses in STEM, and only one in five pursue careers in science and related fields. A report published by The Asia Foundation and Zendesk highlights the vital role of networks in helping girls and women enter and succeed in STEM fields.  

STEM ConnectHER will work with FSA members and industry partners to address the gender imbalance in STEM fields, recognizing that promoting inclusive and equitable education and opportunities in STEM requires collective action. Networks such as STEM ConnectHER facilitate mentorship and peer support and provide opportunities for technical and leadership skills development, knowledge exchange, collaboration, and more. 

With support and funding from leading companies, STEM ConnectHER will provide female students and aspiring professionals across the region with access to learning resources and opportunities, including networking and mentorship sessions, workplace visits, job accelerators, and certification support. The program aspires to see more young women start and persist in careers in STEM fields, with the longer-term goal of creating inclusive and innovative opportunities for all. Learn more about the program at stemconnecther.org 

Register for the launch event on March 18 by visiting bit.ly/STEM-2024. Sign up as a student or a mentor or get in touch as an academic partner at [email protected] 

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. 

Read more about the Foundation’s work. 

For media inquiries, please visit our News Room. 

Learn more about our Future Skill Alliance initiatives and partnerships on our The Future of Work showcase on LinkedIn. Engage with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Applications Open for the 2024 Margaret F. Williams Memorial Fellowship in Asian Art

San Francisco, January 29, 2024 — In partnership with the Asian Art Museum, The Asia Foundation announces a call for applications for the 2024 Margaret F. Williams Memorial Fellowship in Asian Art, a program supporting exchange between diverse, emerging curatorial voices focusing on Asian or Asian American art. The application period opens on January 31 and closes on March 3, with final selection announced by early April.

Held every other year, the fellowship supports two emerging contemporary art curators—one from Asia and one from the United States. The Asian Art Museum’s Contemporary Art Department offers fellows a unique residency opportunity for a period of up to three months under the guidance of Abby Chen, senior associate curator and head of Contemporary Art.

Located in the heart of San Francisco, the Asian Art Museum is home to one of the world’s finest collections of Asian art, boasting more than 20,000 awe-inspiring artworks ranging from ancient jades and ceramics to contemporary video installations. Dynamic special exhibitions, cultural celebrations, and public programs for all ages provide rich art experiences that unlock the past and spark questions about the future.

The 2024 fellows will work within the Asian Art Museum’s Practice Institute and report to the museum’s inaugural assistant curator of games and technology, Cheng Xu, whose new exhibition RAD (Research And Development) opened in January 2024. Fellows will support the development of criteria for presenting new arts practices, including multimedia artworks, theater sound, performances, digital artworks, archives, community engagement, and nontraditional works that may exist independent of gallery spaces. They will also contribute to the integration of interactive experiences and interpretive technology, including video games, for the forthcoming major exhibition with visionary game designer Jenova Chen.

The fellowship provides:

  • Round-trip travel to and from San Francisco for the residency at the Asian Art Museum.
  • Housing and per diem for the duration of their residency in San Francisco from June 1 to August 31, 2024. Fellows should plan on being on-site at the Asian Art Museum for the majority of this time.
  • A $10,000 stipend toward a self-designed study tour to support each fellow’s research, professional interests, and network-building. The study tour will comprise visits, consultations, meetings, and research. Fellows may choose to visit multiple cities and institutions over four or more weeks. This study tour will occur after, or separate from, fellows’ residency at the museum.
  • An additional grant is provided by the museum’s Practice Institute to develop a special project or program that reflects their research—together or separately—preferably on-site and making use of the museum’s facilities or online, with a public engagement component. Ideally, these projects or programs will take place during the fellowship residency or before the end of 2024.

The program looks to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion in the curatorial field and seeks to build the capacity of a younger generation of curators. The selection committee will actively focus on recruiting and growing a pipeline of emerging curatorial leaders who bring diverse perspectives marginalized by sexism, heterosexism, or racism and are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in their work. The program takes an expansive approach to the concept of “curator” and welcomes applicants from within or outside the institutional museum context. The program seeks fresh outlooks, approaches, and perspectives.

The Margaret F. Williams Memorial Fellowship in Asian Art contributes to the professional enhancement of specialists in the Asian art curatorial field through exchange between the United States and Asia and the Pacific. In 2007, Asia Foundation President Emeritus Dr. Haydn Williams established the Margaret F. Williams Memorial Fellowship in Asian Art Program to honor his late wife, whose interest in art was stimulated by their travels. Mrs. Williams was also a docent at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

Apply for the Margaret F. Williams Memorial Fellowship in Asian Art Program. For program inquiries, please contact [email protected].

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.

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

For media inquiries, please visit our News Room.

Engage with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

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

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

For media inquiries, please visit our  News Room.

Engage with us using #LeadNext on Facebook, Twitter,  LinkedIn, and Instagram.

The Asia Foundation Announces 2024 Development Fellows

January 23, 2024 — The Asia Foundation announces the 2024 class of Asia Foundation Development Fellows: Emerging Leadership for Asia’s Future following a highly competitive selection process with thousands of applicants. The 2024 Development Fellows are emerging leaders in their fields, bringing bold, innovative thinking and a deep commitment to addressing complex issues across Asia and the Pacific. The 12 fellows selected for the 2024 class are from Bhutan, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, and Sri Lanka.

The Development Fellows program brings exceptional individuals into a network of emerging leaders working to improve lives across the Asia-Pacific region. Now in its tenth year, the program includes 119 current and alum fellows across Asia-Pacific, forming an active network of the region’s most promising leaders from diverse cultures, country contexts, and work environments.

Meet the 2024 Development Fellows:

Achala Samaradivakara | Sri Lanka is a social entrepreneur and co-founder of Good Market, a global platform specializing in rural and sustainable development that supports over 2500 small businesses in over 90 countries.

Bolorsaikhan Badamsambuu | Mongolia works as a human rights defender, death penalty abolitionist, and civil rights activist, currently serving as Secretary of the National Committee for Human Rights and Open Government Partnership Multistakeholder Forum.

Claire De Leon | Philippines is a lawyer and advocate for the LGBTQI community serving on the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines and as the President of Babaylanes, a Philippine-based LGBTQI organization.

Haseenah Huurieyah Binti Wan Rosli | Malaysia is a refugee advocate and legal editor spearheading legal literacy and birth registration rule of law projects for stateless communities and previously served in the Malaysian Chief Justice office.

Hnin Shwe Zin Hlaing | Myanmar works as a gender expert to promote women’s meaningful participation in the restoration of peace and democracy in Myanmar, specifically addressing conflict-related sexual violence.

Indiah Wahyu Andari | Indonesia works with the Rifka Annika Women’s Crisis Center Indonesia to develop counseling techniques for victims of gender-based violence, centering gender and disability in the creation of violence prevention programs.

Mariyam Shunana | Maldives is the founder of the Public Interest Law Center, the first law center in the Maldives to provide free legal aid services for socially and economically marginalized individuals.

Minseo Ju | Korea is a seasoned development practitioner and currently serves as the youngest and sole female director of the Ulsan International Development Cooperation Center.

Boon Pei Ya | Singapore develops finance mechanisms that aim to unlock private and public capital for conservation and works as the regional conversation finance program manager for the Wildlife Conservation Society Southeast Asian Archipelago.

Sameer Chand | Fiji is a financial sector specialist working with the International Finance Corporation, focusing on maximizing finance for development and leveraging private sector investment for inclusive growth in emerging economies. 

Suyheang Kry | Cambodia serves as the executive director of the Women Peace Makers organization, working to facilitate participatory approaches to peace processes and gender-sensitive mediation.

Tshering Dolkar | Bhutan is the director of the Climate Change and Environmental Law Clinic at Bhutan’s law school, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, and has advised the Royal Government of Bhutan and international organizations on environmental policy and law.

This yearlong career advancement program includes two intensive Leadership Dialogue and Exchange programs in the Asia-Pacific region and the United States. The coursework explores the Fellows’ leadership styles, helps them develop their stories, and cultivates innovative thinking. The fellowship will begin in mid-February in Cambodia.

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.

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

For media inquiries, please visit our News Room.

Engage with us using #AsiaDevFellows on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

The Asia Foundation Announces New Members of the Board of Trustees

January 12, 2024 — The Asia Foundation announces three new members to the Board of Trustees effective January 2024.

Joining our mission to improve lives and expand opportunities across Asia and the Pacific, these new members bring a wealth of experience, diverse perspectives, and a shared commitment to advancing our impact.

Meet our new members:

Lama Ahmad is a researcher and technology professional focused on ensuring safe and fair technology governance, particularly for those disproportionately impacted. On OpenAI’s Policy Research team, she leads partnerships and research on AI risks and social impact. Previously, at Facebook’s Open Research & Transparency team, she concentrated on Instagram and Facebook’s societal impacts, particularly regarding elections and democracy. As a Luce Scholar, Lama studied at the UN Pulse Lab Jakarta and focused on the ethics of data-driven technologies in Indonesia and Southeast Asia with a human-centered design approach.

Cheng-Ling Chen is an angel investor, advisor, and creative writer who supports women-led startups and nonprofits, focusing on under-served communities. Fluent in English, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and Taiwanese, she advocates for multilingual education and has served on the boards of Presidio Knolls School and APA Family Support Services. As a cross-border corporate attorney with experience in various parts of China, Cheng-Ling is a proponent of empowering women. She is also the founder of HERliograph.com, where she highlights everyday heroines and fosters connections among women.

Ma. Laurice Jamero is a climate resilience and sustainability scientist coordinating climate resilience efforts at the Manila Observatory. She collaborates with local governments and civil society organizations in the Philippines on climate and disaster risk management. Lau is involved in various roles internationally, including at the World Climate Research Programme, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Future Earth Coasts, and Southeast Asia Science Advisory Network. She dedicates herself to engaging vulnerable communities in understanding climate risks, designing solutions, and promoting climate action and justice.

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 equity, 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.

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

For media inquiries, please visit our News Room.

Engage with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

The Asia Foundation Launches Book on the Accomplishments of Women Forest Defenders in Indonesia

November 28, 2023 — On November 10, Indonesia National Heroes Day, in the City of Heroes, Surabaya, The Asia Foundation and Agna Komunika launched the book Perempuan Penjaga Hutan (Women Forest Defenders). The book is a product of our environmental governance unit’s work in the SETAPAK program, with contributions from women leaders in villages that receive support for forest defense efforts. It documents the experiences of women forest defenders in three provinces: Aceh, Bengkulu, and Central Sulawesi. The stories in the book exemplify the resilience and determination of women forest defenders despite facing significant barriers.

Following the launch, gender specialist and anthropologist Pinky Saptandari and executive director of Wahid Foundation, Mutjaba Hamdi, reviewed the book and engaged in a discussion.

Emphasizing how effectively women forest defenders navigate challenges, Pinky noted, “Their stories are evidence that women are agents of change who never give up in any condition. These women present have faced many challenges: limited time, limited energy, and cultural barriers, but they manage to overcome them by negotiation. Developing communication strategy and using their brain instead of muscles.”

Referring to the forest defender Rizky Emya’s story in the book, Pinky highlights how women in Aceh, including Emya, employ a direct approach to persuade the community and children to care about preserving their forests and stop illegal logging. Emya’s approach involves conveying the impact of poor water quality on religious practices, “We say to them if the water is polluted because we failed to protect our forests, we will not be able to purify ourselves and perform the worship.”

Throughout the discussion, speakers emphasized how these women’s experiences challenge gender stereotypes and demonstrate their ability to drive change in forest management, business, and community leadership.

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

For media inquiries, please visit our News Room.

Engage with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Translation

Pada tanggal 10 November, bertepatan dengan Hari Pahlawan Nasional, dan bertempat di kota pahlawan Surabaya, The Asia Foundation dan Agna Komunika meluncurkan buku Perempuan Pembela Hutan. Buku yang dikeluarkan unit Environmental Governance dari The Asia Foundation Indonesia ini mendokumentasikan pengalaman perempuan pembela hutan di tiga provinsi: Aceh, Bengkulu dan Sulawesi Tengah.

Setelah peluncurannya digelar diskusi dengan pengulas spesialis gender dan antropolog dari Universitas Airlangga, Pinky Saptandari, dan Direktur Eksekutif Wahid Foundation, Mutjaba Hamdi. Pinky menggarisbawahi betapa efektifnya perempuan pembela hutan dalam menghadapi berbagai tantangan.

“Kisah mereka menjadi bukti bahwa perempuan adalah agen perubahan yang pantang menyerah dalam kondisi apa pun. Para perempuan yang hadir ini banyak menghadapi tantangan: keterbatasan waktu, keterbatasan tenaga, dan hambatan budaya, namun mereka berhasil mengatasinya melalui negosiasi. Menerapkan strategi komunikasi dan menggunakan akal alih-alih otot.”

Merujuk pada kisah pembela hutan Rizky Emya dalam buku tersebut, Pinky menyoroti bagaimana perempuan di Aceh, termasuk Emya, melakukan pendekatan langsung untuk mengajak masyarakat dan anak-anak agar peduli menjaga kelestarian hutan dan menghentikan penebangan liar. Pendekatan Emya mencakup penyampaian dampak kualitas air yang buruk terhadap praktik keagamaan. “Kami mengatakan kepada mereka jika air tercemar karena kami gagal melindungi hutan, kami tidak bisa menyucikan diri dan beribadah.”

Sepanjang diskusi, para pembicara menekankan bagaimana pengalaman perempuan dalam meruntuhkan stereotip gender dan menunjukkan kemampuan mereka untuk mendorong perubahan dalam pengelolaan hutan, bisnis dan kepemimpinan masyarakat.

The Asia Foundation in Mongolia Receives Order of the Polar Star, Highest Civilian Honor

Ulaanbaatar, November 22, 2023 — The Asia Foundation Mongolia Country Representative Mark Koenig received the highest civilian honor awarded to foreign citizens by the Mongolian government, the Order of the Polar Star, during a recent recognition event. H.E. Zandanshatar Gombojav, the speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament) of Mongolia, presented  Koenig with the award at the Government Palace in Ulaanbaatar on November 15. 

Polar Star award ceremony at the State Palace with representatives of The Asia Foundation Mongolia, H.E. Zandanshatar Gombojav, the speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament) of Mongolia, and government officials. (Photo: The Asia Foundation)

Mongolias President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh issued a presidential decree to recognize Mark Koenig with the Polar Star for his valuable contributions to Mongolia’s development through his work with The Asia Foundation in advancing inclusive governance in close partnership with Mongolia’s Parliament. Notably, Foundation programs strengthening parliamentary democracy and supporting deliberative polling marked a significant step towards ensuring active citizen participation in legislative activities.  

Mark Koenig was awarded the Polar Star from the H.E. Zandanshatar Gombojav, the speaker of the State Great Khural (Parliament) of Mongolia. (Photo: The Asia Foundation)

Koenig remarked, “The award coincides with The Asia Foundation’s 30th anniversary in Mongolia. During the past three decades, the Foundation has provided pivotal support to Mongolia’s development through strengthening governance and gender equality, addressing environmental challenges, and enhancing accessibility to education and information in partnership with the Mongolian government, civil society, and the private sector.”  

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 equity, 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.

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

For media inquiries, please visit our News Room.

Engage with us on FacebookTwitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Development Entrepreneurship Mentoring Conference 2023: Australian Ambassador Calls on “Reform Warriors” to be the Voice of the Vulnerable

November 22, 2023 — With support from the Australian Embassy in the Philippines, The Asia Foundation’s Coalitions for Change (CfC) program, hosted a three-day Development Entrepreneurship (DE) Mentoring Conference in Pasig City, Philippines. The conference marked the culmination of a six-month collaboration between 24 learners (mentees) and ten experienced policy reformers (mentors) a part of the DE Mentoring Program. Through the initiative, mentees received guidance from mentors to identify and pursue policy reform ideas using DE principles. Key policy reforms discussed included universal health care for vulnerable groups, transportation system reforms in local governments, the establishment of safe spaces for LGBTQ individuals, promotion of mental health care at the level of barangays, and making it easier for households to connect to the power grid.

In her keynote speech, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines HK Yu commended the achievements of the mentoring program and the mentees, referring to them as fellow reform warriors. “We exist because we want to make a difference for the better. We exist because we want to be the voice of those who are vulnerable, neglected, and forgotten by society,” she told the mentees.

She also pointed out unique aspects of this policy reform learning activity, citing the elements of mentoring and being part of a network of reformers. “Let that wonderful energy permeate from you to all those around you. Become a huge web of reform warriors who care for each other and provide a safety net for those who may need a bit of grit or confidence when they get knocked down,” Ambassador Yu encouraged.

Sam Chittick, the Foundation’s country representative in the Philippines, congratulated the mentees on their progress and policy wins and recognized CfC’s invaluable partnership with the Australian Government through its Mentoring Program. “Each of you are a realization of The Asia Foundation’s mission of improving lives and expanding opportunities across Asia and the Pacific. Many people hold desires to make the world a better place, but fewer take the active step forward to transform that desire into action.”

He also recognized the invaluable partnership of the Australian Government with CfC and its Mentoring Program. “A running theme for our DE activities is that we are better when we work together. We are one in our desire to promote a stable and prosperous Philippines,” Chittick added.

A large group, comprised of mentors and mentees take a group photo in a conference room with a bright light above them.


The 3rd Cohort of the Development Entrepreneurship Mentoring Program.

The Mentoring Conference also featured breakout sessions, workshops, and a commencement ceremony for the 24 mentees under its third cohort. Mentors and mentees alike reflected on their experiences and successes in the program, including how DE principles can address diverse issues and how it has helped them feel empowered to advocate for policy change and secure funding for their initiatives. Mia Aranas, senior science research specialist at DOST-PCAARRD and a mentee from the first batch, described how the DE Mentoring Program enabled them to perform their policy advocacy function and increase their funding by millions.

“DE has provided us with the tools, experience, and the opportunity to get our hands dirty. We incorporated all those DE tools in the proposals we co-developed with our partners. This resulted in new projects and advocacies, translating to around 40 million pesos (1.1 million AUD). Before that year, we didn’t have any advocacy projects. I am very thankful to the Australian Government, The Asia Foundation, and CfC for partnering with us in transforming scientists and researchers into reformers,” Mia shared.

This recent cohort comprises development professionals from the academe, faith-based organizations, local and international non-government organizations, private corporations, and the government. The range of policy reforms they are working on includes:

  • Revised Children’s Code and revised GAD Ordinance of 2023
  • Operationalizing anti-political dynasty of the Bangsamoro Electoral Code
  • Local policy to support the implementation of Universal Health Care (UHC) for vulnerable groups
  • Stopping the illegal collection of undersized sandfish
  • Inclusion of medical and health aspects as basis for parole
  • Reforming transportation systems in LGUs
  • Declaring major rivers of Mt. Talinis as critical watersheds
  • Single-use plastic ban in Zamboanga
  • Safe Space ordinance in Iligan City
  • Accelerating LGU competitiveness with online economic data
  • LGU assistance for single parents
  • Setting up skilled breastfeeding service delivery network in LGUs and the private sector
  • Integrating gender data into disaster risk reduction and climate change management
  • Social protection for fishers
  • Navigating systematic change for non-profits
  • Promoting barangay-level mental health care and response
  • Connecting households to electric service
  • Developing reform in the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) sector
  • Recognizing the rights of nature
  • Improving Internal Organizational Processes the DE Way

The mentees shared some common lessons gleaned from their experience, including how to practice the DE principle of “Just Start” despite their limited time and resources and, to persevere with “Grit” to break down barriers and overcome challenges tenaciously. Mentees acknowledged the invaluable support of the Australian Government and The Asia Foundation during their mentoring journey.

“Hugot, gigil, pohon… these are the three Filipino words that I will try to use to synthesize my experience in this mentoring journey. Words that encapsulate our Filipino-ness, or our sensibilities as Filipinos. It’s this core that is connected deeply to our soul that explains so much about our experiences, background, pains, and our heartaches. DE allowed us to see this journey with kinder eyes. DE allowed us to be human because DE does not judge,” Levi Jun Miscala of Iligan Safespace, said.

The mentees are committed to pursuing their policy reforms and the conference provided a venue to widen their network and explore common reform interests.

For more information, email: [email protected].

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.

Read more about the Foundation’s work.

For media inquiries, please visit our News Room.

Engage with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.