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Tackling critical Asian development challenges rests not only on solid ideas and strategies, but on people. The most innovative and game-changing ideas will always fall flat if subjected to poor leadership. The Asia Foundation invests in the human capital needed for Asian societies to develop and flourish, and has long worked to identify, equip and develop leaders of consequence—from emerging, next generation development and policy leaders in Asia, to highly accomplished leaders who seek to do more. LeadEx is the Foundation’s new unit combining our leadership and exchange programs, including the Asia Foundation Development Fellows, Luce Scholars, and an array of exchanges.


Asia Foundation Development Fellows

The Asia Foundation Development Fellows: Emerging Leadership for Asia’s Future program provides highly-qualified young professionals from Asia with an unparalleled opportunity to strengthen their leadership skills and gain in-depth knowledge of Asia’s critical development challenges. The year-long professional advancement program draws on The Asia Foundation’s extensive 18-country network and deep expertise working with innovative leaders and communities across the region. The program is designed to be a multifaceted experience, involving intensive learning modules—short courses, conferences, and study tours in Asia and the U.S.—to enhance leadership skills, Asian development knowledge, professional networks, and international exposure.


With the profound structural changes that will transform geopolitics, global governance, the global economic order, and social landscape over the next decade, a new generation of globally minded leaders is imperative. The LeadNext program equips emerging leaders across cultures and disciplines with strong international networks, exposure to wide-ranging experiences, and leadership tools to thoughtfully steer the future.

William P. Fuller Fellowship in Peacebuilding

In 2004, The Asia Foundation’s Board of Trustees established the William P. Fuller Fellowship in Peacebuilding to honor Dr. Fuller at the conclusion of his 15-year tenure as president of the Foundation. This tribute reflects the organization’s long-standing interest in the field and Dr. Fuller’s personal concern for furthering the professional development of a cadre of young Asians with leadership potential and a commitment to advancing knowledge and experience regarding the management of subnational conflicts. The fellowship award supports a cohort of three Fuller Fellows each year for extended leadership training and professional development, a study tour and seminars with leading peacebuilding experts and institutions in the United States, a flexible $5,000 USD grant to support their individually tailored projects or advance professional goals, and extended engagement with LeadEx and the Foundation’s Conflict & Fragility programs.

L.Z. Yuan Fellowship in Media and International Affairs

The L.Z. Yuan Fellowship in Media and International Affairs is named after the late Lun-Zun Yuan, who initiated the Foundation’s program with China and served with the Foundation for over four decades. Prior to joining the Foundation in 1954, Mr. Yuan was a journalist; the L.Z. Yuan Fellowship reflects his conviction that the media plays an important role in international affairs. The fellowship offers young Chinese journalists an opportunity to gain a better understanding of key issues and concerns in international affairs, particularly those relevant to U.S.-China relations. The award supports participation in a course on U.S. foreign policy and international affairs, followed by a specially-tailored month-long affiliation with an international affairs organization and/or a series of meetings with members of the policy and media sectors.

Publisher U Thant Thaw Kaung, head of the Myanmar Book Aid and Preservation Foundation and the mobile library project under the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, during a three-week study tour as the Foundation’s Chang-lin Tien Visiting Fellow.

Chang-Lin Tien Distinguished Fellowship Program

The Chang-Lin Tien Distinguished Fellowship Program honors the talents and achievements of the late Dr. Chang-Lin Tien, former chair of The Asia Foundation’s Board of Trustees and former chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley. The program fosters greater dialogue and understanding between Asians and Americans noted for their contributions in government, business, academia, media, and the arts. The fellowship is in keeping with the Foundation’s interest in facilitating a collegial network of professionals with leadership potential and with established leaders throughout Asia.

Margaret F. Williams Memorial Fellowship in Asian Art

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 together. Mrs. Williams was also a docent at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. The fellowship contributes to the professional enhancement of specialists in the Asian art curatorial field. Participating institutions include the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, an implementing partner with The Asia Foundation, other U.S. institutions, and the following Asian institutions: The Tokyo National Museum, Japan; the National Palace Museum, Taiwan; the National Museum of Korea, Seoul, Korea; and the Shanghai Museum, China.

The fellowship is awarded annually to a curatorial specialist from the Asian Art Museum or another art institution in the US to spend a month at a museum in Northeast Asia for professional development. A staff member from a participating museum in Asia comes to the Asian Art Museum for a similar period.

Brayton Wilbur Jr. Memorial Fellowship in Asian Art

Asia Foundation Trustee Judith Wilbur has generously established the Brayton Wilbur Jr. Memorial Fellowship in Asian Art in honor of her late husband and former Trustee, Brayton Wilbur, Jr. The fellowship stems from the Wilburs’ deep interest in Asian art, nurtured through their residence and travel in the region, and their commitment to the work of The Asia Foundation and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco (AAM). The two institutions are collaborating in the program’s execution, with AAM identifying qualified fellowship recipients, and The Asia Foundation’s Asian American Exchange unit responsible for overall administration. The program’s purpose is to contribute to the professional enhancement of specialists in Asian curatorial art within AAM and other selected art institutions in the U.S., Asia, and Europe.


LankaCorps is a unique opportunity for young leaders of Sri Lankan heritage to professionally engage in social, cultural, and economic development activities in Sri Lanka. The program aims to foster the involvement and understanding of young members of the expatriate Sri Lankan community who have limited in-depth experience with the country of their heritage. Each year, The Asia Foundation selects an outstanding group of LankaCorps Fellows to live and work for six months in Sri Lanka, granting them the unique chance to “explore their roots while giving back.”

Nieman Fellowship in Journalism

The Nieman Foundation for Journalism has hosted more than 1,500 accomplished journalists from 94 countries since 1938. The fellowship has expanded in recent years to include new collaborative and experimental programs. In addition to taking classes during their time at Harvard, fellows attend Nieman seminars, workshops and master classes and work on their research with Harvard scholars and other leading thinkers in the Cambridge area. Korean journalists in the Nieman Fellowship are sponsored by The Asia Foundation with support from the Sungkok Journalism Foundation and YBM, Inc.

Summer Fellowship in U.S. Foreign Policy

Annually since 2007, The Asia Foundation sponsors the participation of mid-career diplomats from various foreign ministries of participating Asian countries to attend graduate-level coursework at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The program’s objective is to deepen these officials’ understanding of the complexities of foreign policymaking in the United States. To complement the course, the Foundation organizes observation tours, tailored to the respective professional responsibilities and interests of the visiting diplomats, to encourage greater intercultural exposure and promote stronger international relations.

Young Asian Diplomats Program

The Asia Foundation hosted the first cohort of the Young Asian Diplomats Program in 2019. With support from the Henry Luce Foundation, the Foundation promotes leadership development for the next generation of Asian diplomats and builds networks and prospects for multilateral cooperation in the region. Each year, the program immerses 14 promising mid-career diplomats from East and Southeast Asia in customized diplomacy coursework at Georgetown University, leadership development at the University of Virginia, the unique regional needs of American policy constituents at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and in the innovative field of software and programming at leading institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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