President and CEO
Josette Sheeran is the seventh President and CEO of Asia Society. She is responsible for advancing the organization’s global work in the fields of arts and culture, policy and business, and education.
Ms. Sheeran also serves as the UN Special Envoy to Haiti, representing the UN Secretary-General in advancing Haiti's 2030 vision and in helping secure an end to the transmission of cholera in Haiti.
Sheeran is former vice chair of the World Economic Forum, known for its annual Davos convening and Davos in China. She helped advance global initiatives encompassing global, regional, and industry agendas such as Grow Africa, which has attracted $10 billion to end hunger and malnutrition in Africa.
Prior to the World Economic Forum, Sheeran was executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006. Sheeran’s TED Talk on ending world hunger has been viewed more than one million times and has been used in schools to teach children about hunger. She led the world’s largest humanitarian organization, serving up to 100 million of the world's most hungry each year. Under Sheeran’s leadership, the WFP increased its donor base to more than 100 nations and became the first UN program to include the so-called BRIC countries and the Gulf States among its top 10 donors.
Prior to this, Ms. Sheeran served as a diplomat and negotiator for the United States, including as U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs, and deputy U.S. Trade Representative, handling Asia, Africa, labor, environment, intellectual property, and trade capacity building portfolios.
In 2011, Forbes named her the world’s 30th most powerful woman; Foreign Policy listed her among its top 100 global 'Twitterati'. She was a Fisher Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center in 2013.
Sheeran is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations. She was awarded Japan's Nigata International Food Award, Commandeur de l'Ordre du Mérite Agricole by the government of France, and Brazil`s highest civilian award, the Grand Official Order of the `Rio Branco,’ and the “Game Changer” award by the Huffington Post.
Vice President and Managing Director, Washington, D.C., Office
Wendy Cutler joined the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) as Vice President and Managing Director of the Washington D.C. Office in November 2015. In these roles, she focuses on building ASPI’s presence in Washington — strengthening its outreach as a think/do tank — and on leading initiatives that address challenges related to trade and women’s empowerment in Asia.
She joins ASPI following an illustrious career of nearly three decades as a diplomat and negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Most recently she served as Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, working on a range of U.S. trade negotiations and initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region. In that capacity, she was responsible for the just-concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, including the bilateral negotiations with Japan.
Ms. Cutler’s other responsibilities with USTR included bilateral trade relations with all TPP countries, U.S.-China trade relations, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum, the U.S.-India Trade Policy Forum, and Trade and Investment Framework Agreements with countries ranging from Pakistan to the Philippines. Ms. Cutler held a number of positions at USTR since joining the office in 1988, working on both bilateral and multilateral issues. She was the Chief U.S. Negotiator for the U.S.-Korea (KORUS) Free Trade Agreement and led the U.S. trade and investment agenda in APEC. She also negotiated a wide range of bilateral agreements with Japan on such issues as telecommunications, insurance, and semiconductors. She has extensive multilateral trade experience as the U.S. negotiator for the WTO Financial Services Agreement and several Uruguay Round Agreements. Prior to joining USTR, Ms. Cutler worked on trade issues at the Commerce Department.
Ms. Cutler received her master’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and her bachelor’s degree from the George Washington University. She is married and has one son.
Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Paula Gray Hunker joined Asia Society in June 2017 and is responsible for all Operations departments, including IT, HR, Building Services, Construction, Visitors Services, Box Office, Café and Catering, AsiaStore, Rentals, and General Membership. As leader of the organization's global strategic planning effort, she is spearheading the initiative that will produce a strategic plan through 2024.
Prior to joining Asia Society, Paula was Director of Strategy and Policy for the Hunger Solutions Institute at Auburn University. During her tenure Paula established the Institute as a major multisector convener and collaborator and built a unique consortium of 100 university presidents, working together to end hunger on their campuses as well as in their communities and nations. Earlier Paula was Chief of Executive Affairs for the former Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP). She focused on strategy, communication, and outreach. Prior to WFP, Ms. Hunker was Policy and Communications Director for the Rodale Institute, the world’s oldest sustainable agriculture non-profit, and research organization, helping them reposition and rebrand the organization. She also worked at the U.S. State Department, serving as Chief of Staff and Senior Strategy Advisor to the Under Secretary of Economics, Business and Agricultural Affairs. There she worked on a number of initiatives, including innovative work on a UN High Level Panel on UN Reform and Coherence, and was the chief designer of the ONE UN pilot programs, which has brought coherence and efficiency to UN country offices. She recommended consolidating the UN’s gender work, resulting in what is now UN Women. She also helped to create the Global Partnership Initiative, a new office at the State Department to build and improve the effectiveness of multi-sector partnerships as a critical component of development and diplomacy.
Vice President, Education and Director, Center for Global Education
Dr. Anthony Jackson leads Asia Society's work in education which strives to enable all students to graduate high school prepared for college, for work in the global economy, and for 21st-century global citizenship.
Jackson oversees the Asia Society Center for Global Education, a global platform for collaboratively advancing education for global competence for all. The Center's multi-faceted approach includes the International Studies Schools Network, a network of over 35 schools around the United States that systematically integrate a global focus within the curriculum; Global Learning Beyond School, which supports globalizing youth programs including afterschool and community programs; the Global Cities Education Network, a learning community of high performing Asian and North American urban school districts dedicated to solving common high priority problems of practice and policy; and China Learning Initiatives, which provide national leadership to support learning of Chinese language and culture.
Trained in both developmental psychology and education, Jackson is one of the nation's leading experts on secondary school education reform and adolescent development. Jackson directed the Carnegie Corporation's Task Force on the Education of Young Adolescents which produced the groundbreaking report Turning Points: Educating Adolescents in the 21st Century, and co-authored the seminal follow-up blueprint Turning Points 2000, considered one of the most influential books on middle school reform. His most recent work is Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World. Jackson holds a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, and M.A. and Ph.D. in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan.
Executive Vice President
Tom Nagorski became Executive Vice President of the Asia Society following a three-decade career in journalism — having served most recently as Managing Editor for International Coverage at ABC News. Before that, he was Foreign Editor for ABC’s World News Tonight, and a reporter and producer based in Russia, Germany, and Thailand. Nagorski was the recipient of eight Emmy awards and the Dupont Award for excellence in international coverage, as well as a fellowship from the Henry Luce Foundation.
He has written for several publications and is the author of Miracles on the Water: The Heroic Survivors of a World War II U-Boat Attack. Nagorski is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Advisory Board of the Committee To Protect Journalists, and a Program Advisor to the Brooklyn Historical Society. He graduated from Princeton University in 1984. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.
Chief Financial Officer
Julia Nelson is a senior financial executive, as well as a certified public accountant, with more than 25 years of nonprofit management experience. Nelson has held leadership finance positions for major American nonprofit and international organizations. She has diverse experience in long-range strategic financial planning, as well as the development of global administration, financial systems, controls, reporting, and audits, as well as working with senior management on significant capital fundraising programs.
Before joining Asia Society, Nelson served as chief financial and administrative officer at American Associates Ben-Gurion University and the International Center for Transitional Justice. Previously, she was the CFO and senior vice president at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the vice president of finance and administration for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Earlier in her career, she worked in financial management positions for the Museum for Jewish Heritage, Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, and as the Director of Internal Audit at the International Rescue Committee.
Before moving to the nonprofit world, Julia had a successful career in the private sector, working as a senior auditor/manager for McMahan, Armstrong, and Associates, and later starting her own corporate financial and governmental consulting firm. Julia hails from Chicago, Illinois, and has a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado.
President, Asia Society Policy Institute
Kevin Rudd joined the Asia Society Policy Institute as its inaugural President in January 2015. He served as Australia's 26th Prime Minister from 2007 to 2010, then as Foreign Minister from 2010 to 2012, before returning as Prime Minister in 2013.
As Prime Minister, Rudd led Australia's response during the Global Financial Crisis. Australia's fiscal response to the crisis was reviewed by the IMF as the most effective stimulus strategy of all member states. Australia was the only major advanced economy not to go into recession. Rudd is also internationally recognized as one of the founders of the G20, which drove the global response to the crisis and in 2009 helped prevent the crisis from spiraling into a second global depression.
As Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Rudd was active in global and regional foreign policy leadership. He was a driving force in expanding the East Asia Summit (EAS) to include both the U.S. and Russia in 2010. He also initiated the concept of transforming the EAS into a wider Asia-Pacific community to help manage deep-rooted tensions in Asia by building over time the institutions and culture of common security in Asia. On climate change, Rudd ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2007 and legislated in 2008 for a mandatory 20 percent renewable energy target for Australia. Rudd launched Australia's challenge in the International Court of Justice with the objective of stopping Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean. Rudd drove Australia's successful bid for its current non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and oversaw the near-doubling of Australia's foreign aid budget.
Rudd is Chair of the Board of the International Peace Institute, and Chair of Sanitation and Water for All. He is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, a Distinguished Fellow at Chatham House in London, a Distinguished Statesman with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, and a Distinguished Fellow at the Paulson Institute in Chicago. Mr. Rudd is a member of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s Group of Eminent Persons. He serves on the International Advisory Board of the Schwarzman Scholars program at Tsinghua University, and is an Honorary Professor at Peking University. Rudd is proficient in Mandarin Chinese. He remains actively engaged in indigenous reconciliation.
Vice President, International Security and Diplomacy, Asia Society Policy Institute
Daniel Russel is Vice President, International Security and Diplomacy, at the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI). He joined ASPI in April 2018 after a one-year term at the Institute as Diplomat-in-Residence and Senior Fellow.
Formerly, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service at the U.S. Department of State, his most recent U.S. government position was serving as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. During his 33-year diplomatic career, Mr. Russel received numerous awards, most recently the 2017 Presidential Rank Award. He served in East Asia, Western Europe, at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and in Washington DC as Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
Prior to his appointment as Assistant Secretary on July 12, 2013, Mr. Russel served at the White House as Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council (NSC) Senior Director for Asian Affairs. During his tenure there, he helped formulate President Obama’s strategic rebalance to the Asia Pacific region, including efforts to strengthen alliances, deepen U.S. engagement with multilateral organizations, and expand cooperation with emerging powers in the region.
Before joining the NSC in January of 2009, he was Director of the Office of Japanese Affairs and had assignments as U.S. Consul General in Osaka-Kobe, Japan (2005-2008); Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands (2002-2005); Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus (1999-2002); Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering (1997-99); Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (1995-96); Political Section Unit Chief at U.S. Embassy Seoul, Republic of Korea (1992-95); Political Advisor to the Permanent Representative to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Ambassador Pickering (1989-92); Vice Consul in Osaka and Branch Office Manager in Nagoya, Japan (1987-89); and Assistant to the Ambassador to Japan, former Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (1985-87).
In 1996, Russel was awarded the State Department's Una Chapman Cox Fellowship sabbatical and authored America’s Place in the World, a book published by Georgetown University. Before joining the Foreign Service, he was manager for an international firm in New York City.
Russel was educated at Sarah Lawrence College and University College London.
Vice President for Global Arts and Cultural Programs, Director of Asia Society Museum in New York
Boon Hui Tan is Vice President for Global Arts and Cultural Programs, and Director, Asia Society Museum, NY, where he leads the organisation’s global arts and cultural activities spanning visual arts, performing arts and film.
As museum director, he oversees Asia Society Museum’s acclaimed exhibition programmes and collections, including the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Traditional Asian Art and the Contemporary Art Collection of photography and new media works by Asian and Asian American artists. Prior to this, he was Assistant Chief Executive (Museum & Programs) at the National Heritage Board (NHB) in Singapore overseeing exhibitions, programmes and outreach events across the Board’s museums, institutions and divisions.
In 2015, he was Artistic Director for Singapour en France, le Festival, the largest multidisciplinary presentation of contemporary culture from Singapore and Southeast Asia in France. As a curator and programmer, his research and writing interests focuses on the contemporary artistic expressions of Southeast Asia and Asia and the remaking of traditions among artists of today. Tan is a founding board member of the International Biennial Association.
He was Director of the Singapore Art Museum from 2009 to 2013, where he led the transformation of the museum into a contemporary art institution focused on Southeast Asia and assembled the largest public collection of contemporary art from the region. He was concurrently Director of the Organising Secretariat for the Singapore Biennale 2011. He initiated the regional focus and group curating approach which has become the distinguishing feature of the Singapore Biennale 2013: If the World Changed, as well as being a co-curator and Project Director.
Chief Development Officer
Before joining Asia Society, Williams-Ness came from Japan Society as Vice President of External Relations. Prior to this she was Chief Marketing and Development Officer at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) for seven years, increasing corporate sponsorship for the center by 700% and initiating the first-ever full season underwriting sponsorship with HSBC Bank. Earlier Williams-Ness sold and merged her firm, RED Marketing & PR with Sawchuk, Brown Associates, a public relations and marketing communications firm where she became Vice President.
Her experience also includes positions as Senior Engagement Manager at Jaakko Pöyry Management Consulting-Asia Pacific in Singapore where she led the firm’s expansion into the Japanese market and opened their first Joint-Venture office in Tokyo. There Williams-Ness was a senior consultant on major initiatives in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia. As Marketing Manager for the Pioneer Group in Boston, Williams-Ness frequently led marketing trips for major Japanese trading houses to the Russian Far East as part of the firm’s joint-venture timber operation. She began her career at Bankers Trust (currently Deutsche Bank) as an Assistant Relationship Manager.
Williams-Ness has served as an adjunct professor at Skidmore College for ten years and participated in the Skidmore College Business Mentoring Program. She is a past Board member of Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land and Nature), the Wiawaka Women’s Center, and was formerly on the Saratoga Arts Fest Strategic Planning Board and the Japanese Cultural Association of the Capital District of New York State. Williams-Ness was a past Class Parent and Fund Class Ambassador at the United Nations International School in New York. At age 16 she served as a Rotary ambassador to Japan.
Williams-Ness earned a Bachelors in Government & Asian Studies with a minor in Art History at Saint Lawrence University. She studied advanced Japanese speaking at Shirayuri Gakuen, in Kyushu, Japan, Cornell University, and the Harvard Extension School.
She lives in Manhattan with her husband and daughter.