Asia 21 Announces 2016 Class of Young Leaders

NEW YORK, August 24, 2016 — Asia 21, the preeminent network of young leaders from across the Asia-Pacific, today announced its 2016 class. Comprised of 33 rising professionals from 24 countries representing the private, public, and nonprofit sectors, this year’s class is a remarkable group focused on shaping a brighter future for the Asia-Pacific region.

“Asia Society was founded six decades ago by John D. Rockefeller 3rd to create an institution that would build bridges between the U.S. and Asia. He saw the potential of Asia when few did — and that vision has proved prescient,” said Asia Society President and CEO Josette Sheeran. “Today, Asia 21 embodies Rockefeller’s legacy by connecting the brightest minds in Asia and in the United States — bridge builders in their own right — to confront the most vexing challenges facing the region today.

The 2016 class was selected through a highly competitive process based on outstanding achievement, commitment to public service, and a proven ability to make the world a better place. Among the newly-minted Asia 21 Young Leaders are Ankit Agarwal (India), a social entrepreneur attempting to curb toxic runoff into the river Ganges by collecting floral waste from the temples; Kongngy Hav (Cambodia), founder of a social venture tackling chronic shelter shortages through the production of affordable and eco-friendly bricks; Sylvia Kim (Canada), a lawyer advocating for the human rights of North Koreans; Catlin Ishihara Powers (U.S.), a social entrepreneur helping households in developing countries meet their everyday energy needs by using solar power; Magdalena Seol (South Korea), a key player in her country’s climate change and low-carbon economic development agendas; and Gede Robi Supriyanto (Indonesia), a rock musician, activist, and farmer who teaches organic farming throughout Southeast Asia, and two dozen more. A full list is included below.

Now in its 11th year, Asia 21, named for the need to cultivate a new generation of leaders for the 21st century, has become a robust network of more than 800 young leaders from 30 nations. The network’s alumni are proven leaders representing a variety of professional backgrounds and serve as mentors and potential collaborators. Alumni include political figures (Philippines Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, Malaysia Minister for Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin, former USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah); media personalities (NDTV journalist Barkha Dutt, Herald Corporation Chairman Ryan Hong, Moby Group Chairman Saad Mohseni); award-winning filmmakers (Maziar Bahari, Nitin Das, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy); and private sector executives (Saratoga Investment President Sandiaga Uno, YTL Singapore Executive Director Ruth Yeoh; Bank of America Merrill Lynch Head of Global Equities Distribution Soofian Zuberi).

Members of the 2016 class and select Asia 21 alumni will gather at the Asia 21 Summit this December in Seoul, which hosted the inaugural Asia 21 convening in 2006. The young leaders will share best practices in leadership and develop group public service projects.

At the summit, the class will also collectively select a partner organization whose work benefits underprivileged social and economic groups and communities in the Asia-Pacific region, as part of the newly-formed Asia 21 Action Lab. This new initiative is developed in partnership with the Ek Disha Foundation, a U.S.-based nonprofit founded by Asia 21 alumnus Rick Pal that funds, mentors, and supports high impact humanitarian projects. The selected organization will receive a US$10,000 grant provided by the Ek Disha Foundation, as well as continued support from the 2016 class and access to the Asia 21 network for program development.

The members of the Class of 2016 are:

  • Anoka P. Abeyrathne (Sri Lanka), co-founder and director, Sustainsolution.org
  • Basanta Adhikari (Nepal), founding chairperson, Bikalpa-an Alternative
  • Ankit Agarwal (India), founder and chief executive officer, Helpusgreen
  • Ravi Agrawal (U.K./ India), New Delhi bureau chief, CNN International
  • Maysam Ali (Lebanon), deputy director, Stevens Initiatives at Aspen Institute
  • Faisal Almarzooqi (UAE), assistant professor in chemical and environmental engineering, Masdar Institute
  • Qasim Aslam (Pakistan), founder, The History Project
  • Mitrah Elizabeth Avini (Iran), founder, United Voices
  • Avinesh Singh Bhar (Malaysia), assistant professor of internal medicine, Mercer University
  • Arnold Chan (Hong Kong), founder and chief executive officer, Teach4HK
  • Clarissa Delgado (Philippines), co-founder and chief executive officer, Teach for the Philippines
  • Ronak D. Desai (U.S.), counsel, U.S. Congress
  • Madiha Gul (Pakistan), co-founder and creative director, Mishermayl Productions
  • Mohit Gupta (India), global strategic pricing lead, Cargill, Inc.
  • Kongngy Hav (Cambodia), founding director, My Dream Home
  • Sylvia Kim (Canada), regional director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
  • Kwok Jia Chuan (Singapore), assistant director for sector strategy and planning, Ministry of Social and Family Development
  • Je-Wook Lee (Republic of Korea), president and publisher, The Jeonnam Ilbo
  • Liu Bin (China), co-founder and vice chairman, Hua Jing Society
  • Nanxi Liu (U.S./China), co-founder and chief executive officer, Enplug, Inc.
  • Maria Lukyanova (Russia), head of country office in Tunisia, U.N. World Food Programme
  • Anna Meloto-Wilk (Philippines), co-founder and president, Human Heart Nature
  • Abdullah Oskay (Turkey), founder, Hayat Sende Youth Academy Association
  • Catlin Ishihara Powers (U.S.), co-founder and chief executive officer, One Earth Designs
  • Anita Ghazi Rahman (Bangladesh), founder and partner, The Legal Circle
  • Maiwand Rahyab (Afghanistan), executive director, Afghanistan Institute for Civil Society
  • Phalgun Raju (U.S./India), founder and chief executive officer, Morph Ventures and Morph.org
  • Magdalena Seol (Republic of Korea), founder and managing director, Global Development Advisors
  • Gede Robi Supriyanto (Indonesia), musician, activist, writer, and director, Akarumput
  • Shuyin Tang (Australia/Vietnam), principal, Unitus Impact
  • Govinda Upadhyay (Switzerland/India), founder and chief executive officer, LEDsafari
  • Yasumasa Yamamoto (Japan), angel investor, Green Capital Management
  • Mimi Zou (Australia), assistant director, Center for Rights and Justice, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Click here to view an interactive map and see where the 2016 class is making a difference.

Asia 21 Action Lab is generously supported by the Ek Disha Foundation 


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Meet the 2016 Class

Click here to read bios, quotes and more related to our newest group of Asia 21 Young Leaders.

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For further details, please contact Kathryn Cárdenas at KCardenas@asiasociety.org.