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Country Representative, Malaysia

Dr. Robin Bush is the Asia Foundation’s country representative in Malaysia, where she oversees programs in support of Malaysia’s development as an advanced middle-income country. Bush has over twenty years of experience in governance and policy reform as well as academic expertise in Southeast Asia. She specializes in programming related to religion and development, evidence-based policymaking, refugee issues, and innovation and growth.

Bush’s career has been a blend of practitioner and academic pursuits. She was previously with the Asia Foundation from 1998 to 2011 in Indonesia, holding a range of roles including country representative and deputy country representative. Prior to this she was The Asia Foundation’s regional director for Islam and Development, responsible for assisting Foundation offices Asia-wide in developing civil society, education, and anti-poverty programs implemented in collaboration with religious organizations. Robin Bush also filled a number of strategic positions for RTI International in Jakarta, from 2014 to 2018. In her role as director of RTI’s Asia Regional office, Bush built relationships with the private sector, government, and university partners to strategically raise RTI’s profile in the region. She also served as team leader for the DFAT-funded Knowledge Sector Initiative, a partnership with the Indonesian government to strengthen Indonesia’s knowledge sector. Bush also helped to develop RTI’s engagement strategy with Malaysia, traveling back and forth between Jakarta and Malaysia to develop initial networks and set-up RTI’s office in Kuala Lumpur.

As an academic, from 2019 to 2021 Bush was adjunct faculty at the Singapore Management University, where she designed and taught courses in the School of Social Sciences addressing topics as diverse as Religion & Policy, Evidence-based Policymaking, and Southeast Asian history and politics. She was also senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute from 2012 to 2014, where she was part of a team leading a research project on religion and development in Asia. Bush co-edited a book entitled Religion and the Politics of Development: Critical Perspectives on Asia featuring the results of that project. She is the author of Nahdlatul Ulama and the Struggle for Power in Islam and Politics in Indonesia and myriad journal articles and book chapters related to religion, politics, governance, and development.

Education: Dr. Bush holds a doctoral degree in Political Science from the University of Washington and a master’s degree in International Affairs from Ohio University. Her bachelor’s degree in political science is from the University of South Carolina.