Asia 21 Fellows, Class of 2011
The Asia 21 Young Leaders Forum revolves around the Asia 21 Fellows, a core network of leaders among leaders from diverse professional backgrounds, who are tasked to serve one-year terms.
Jamie Choi | Adam Gilmore | Alexandra Harney | Daisuke Kan | Rabi Karmacharya | Arief Koesoemawiria | Asadej Kongsiri | Bryan Albert Lim | Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy | Mei Pin Phua | Mohammad Omar Sharifi | Vinita Shetty | Dorjee Sun | Martin Tan | Nitinant Wisaweisuan | Mun Ching Yap | Wenchi Yu
Mohammad Omar Sharifi
Mohammad Omar Sharifi is the Director of the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, Kabul Office. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Civil Society Development Center (CSDC) and member of the Board of Directors of the Afghan Alumni Association. A native of Kabul, he graduated from Kabul Medical Institute in 2003. Following his medical studies, he worked as Head of research and publications for the Foundation for Culture and Civil Society in Kabul, and Director of the Open Media Fund for Afghanistan. From 2006 to 2008, he studied Cultural Anthropology at Columbia University in New York under a Fulbright Fellowship. Mohammad has written several essays on politics and social issues in Afghanistan, and his articles are published in national and international journals.
Dorjee Sun is CEO of Carbon Conservation (CC). CC covers energy efficiency, renewable energy, plantations and forest projects that incentivize the preservation of tropical rainforests by helping forest owners and local communities generate alternative revenues through the carbon finance market. One such project in Aceh, Indonesia, won the Carbon Finance Deal of the Year award 2008. This project, and Dorjee, was also the subject of an award winning documentary, The Burning Season. Time magazine recently awarded Dorjee as a Time Magazine Environmental Hero for 2009 and the African Rainforest Conservancy named a newly discovered Tanzanian chameleon after him, "kinyongia dorjeesuni." Prior to Carbon Conservation, Dorjee was the founder of a recruitment software company and an award-winning education company that mentored over 25,000 students in 2004. As a University of Melbourne Asialink Asia Australia Leader, Youth Chair of the Ethnic Communities Council, University Law Society President, and Education Technology Advisory Board member, he has spoken at the Future Summit, AsiaConnect, the World Summit, the Australian Davos Leadership retreat, and was the youngest speaker at APEC CEO Summit in Singapore 2009. He graduated from UNSW with Law and Commerce degrees, and also studied for two years on scholarship at Peking University in China completing a diploma of Asian Studies.
Vinita A. Shetty is journalist and writer. Previously, she was a Senior Editor at DNA, India's fastest growing English-language daily. She headed the Editorial Team and has a special interest in social reform, grass-roots education, advocacy issues and highlighting social injustices. Vinita has over 12 years of journalistic experience with leading newspapers like the Times of India and Asian Age — spanning investigative reporting, development issues, human rights violations and urban infrastructure issues. In 2007, she was appointed City Editor for the launch of Bangalore Mirror, the city's first compact daily, and headed the city reporting teams and news room operations. She has also researched, scripted and anchored TV projects covering varied topics. Vinita has lectured on women's rights, newsroom ethics, Indian media and youth issues. A member of I-volunteer, which provides assistance to terminally ill children, the elderly, and the physically challenged, she also volunteers as a media consultant to NGOs and is a member of the Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI). Vinita lives in Bangalore with her husband and enjoys photography, horse-riding and mentoring young writers. Vinita graduated from Christ University in Journalism, Psychology and English.
Arief Koesoemawiria is the Founder and Director of Suar Intermuda, a renewable energy company in Indonesia. Suar Intermuda is focused on replacing fossil fuel demands with clean affordable energy systems. His company started as a photovoltaic supplier, but has ventured into solar, wind and hydro technologies. His team continually works with communities and industries to develop innovative regional products, such as navigation lighting, desalination systems, crop dryers, and mobile villages. The projects have covered 15 of the 33 provinces in Indonesia. He was previously a civil and environmental engineering consultant based in San Diego, California. He has been a choir director since 2001 and has produced musicals for inner city youth programs. He holds a degree in Civil Engineering and a professional certificate in Facilities Management.
Daisuke Kan currently serves as the Executive Director at Cheerio Group, a family-owned Japanese beverage company with 400 employees. As the third generation, he is trying to build on and create an impact in the 50-year-old domestic company by thorough communication and an aggressive recruiting strategy to build a strong team of talents with a global perspective. He collaborates with diverse domestic and international artists such as Japanese-black-and-white-painters, web-designers, Samba musicians and hot-rod-pinstripers for cutting edge soft drink packages. With annual sales of over 100 million bottles, he sees a large potential in soft drink packages as media to promote artists and information. He earned his B.A. from the University of Tokyo in American Studies and his MBA from Stanford University where he built a strong connection with passionate global leaders. In his spare time, he enjoys playing the African drum and traveling abroad.
Mun Ching Yap
Mun Ching Yap is the founder of Broadsheet Communications, a company which provides communications advisory services on trade and investment issues. She is also starting a company that works with Malaysian artisans to build a sustainable livelihood by modernizing the traditional craft industry. Prior to her foray into entrepreneurship, she was a senior aide in the Office of the Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry. She was also a former Head of Strategic Planning at AirAsia, the biggest low-cost airline in Southeast Asia, where she was responsible for charting the airline's expansion into ASEAN and major cities in China and India. Mun Ching started her career as a journalist and continues to write a fortnightly column on politics and current affairs. She holds degrees in International Relations and Economics from the London School of Economics.
Rabi Karmacharya is the Executive Director of the Open Learning Exchange Network in Nepal, which he started in 2007 with the aim to improve education quality and access in rural parts of the country by employing technological innovations. Rabi previously worked in Silicon Valley as a design engineer for three years before returning to Nepal in 2000 to help build the nation struggling with a nascent democracy. He started a software company called HimalayanTechies to tap into the growing outsourcing market and to help reduce the massive brain-drain of the young, skilled workforce. After establishing the company and leading it for seven years, he pursued other interests to build human resources in the country through education before initiating OLEN. Born and raised in Kathmandu, he went to Canada and the US for higher studies after completing high school in Nepal. He received his BSc and MEng degrees in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy
Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy is an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker who has worked on 14 films for major networks in the United States and Britain, including CNN, PBS, Channel 4 (U.K.) CBC, Arte and the Discovery channel. Amongst other honors, her work has earned her an International Emmy Award in the Current Affairs category, The Alfred I. Dupont Award, The Livingston Award, The Overseas Press Club Award, The American Women in Radio and Television Award, The One World Media Award, and the Banff TV Rockie Award. In 2007, after living outside of Pakistan for more than a decade, Sharmeen helped found The Citizens Archive of Pakistan, a non-profit, volunteer organization formed to foster and promote community-wide interest in the culture and history of Pakistan. At a time when Pakistan's youth finds itself caught between religious and state ideology, the organization works with thousands of underprivileged children, inculcating critical thinking skills and instilling a sense of pride in them about their history and identity. Sharmeen currently sits on the Alumni Association Board of Smith College and in 2010 was selected as a TED fellow. Born in Karachi, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy graduated from Smith College with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and government and then went to complete two Master's degrees from Stanford University in International Policy Studies and Communication.
Bryan Albert Lim
Bryan Albert Lim, is a general medical practitioner. He is currently the Program Coordinator of the Asian Institute of Management - Zuellig Center for Asian Byusiness Transformation. He is a Research Associate of the University of the Philippines - Universal Health Care Study Group and a House Physician at San Pablo Doctors' Hospital. He is the Project Adviser and Proponent of the 2nd Quisumbing Escandor Film Festival for Health, a nationwide filmmaking contest on documentaries and short film that highlight social determinants of health issues. Films are being used for education and advocacy purposes nationwide. He is the proponent of an ongoing project, IM4UHC, a website that will facilitate sharing of clinical knowledge, patient education series, and multisectoral discussions of health issues. Also, together with partners, he is developing modules on creative Public Health Lecture/Workshop for kids, a cookbook on how to cook nutritious foods with only 20 pesos. Bryan is an active alumnus of the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines Alumni Association and the Ayala Young Leaders. Collaboration with Philippines 21 Fellow, Councilor "Concon" Fernandez led to a project that brings cheap, portable wheelchairs to the elderly and disabled. This project links donors from the U.S. to beneficiaries in the provinces in the Philippines. Bryan is a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine Class of 2010.
Mei Pin Phua
Phua Mei Pin is Deputy Director in the Republic of Singapore Administrative Service. Before that, she was Deputy Director (Industry) in the Singaporean Ministry of Trade and Industry, where she has been tasked to bring to fruition two multi-billion dollar integrated casino resorts. These unprecedented developments are expected to create 60,000 jobs economy-wide and contribute 1.6 percent of GDP. Besides facilitating the success of the projects, she makes sure she can sleep at night by tackling the security and social imperatives to preserve the character of a country where casinos were banned for over 40 years. In a multi-faceted public service career, Mei Pin has performed as a diplomat covering the Malaysia, Brunei, Middle East and Central Asia desks, represented Singapore at the 61st United Nations General Assembly, served as General Manager of a municipal Government department, and developed and rolled out a public service reform agenda in the Prime Minister's Office. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard with a degree in literature, but the public service gave her a job anyway. She serves on the committees of several charitable organizations.
Martin Tan is the founder of RiverLife Community Services and Halogen Foundation Singapore, at which he has served as Executive Director since 2003. In the public sector, Martin currently serves as Board Member of the National Library Board, Trustee of the Library Fund Board of Trustee and Chairman of Public Libraries Advisory Committee, he is the Honorary Secretary of the National Family Council and Deputy Chairman of Marriage Central Advisory Board. He is a Council Member of the 11th National Youth Council and the Co-Chair of SHINE Youth Festival reaching out to over 100,000 young people. Martin is also a restaurant owner of Tea Cosy, a European dining restaurant along Orchard Road.
Jamie Choi is Head of the Toxics Campaign for Greenpeace China. She is in charge of running the organization's water pollution and electronic waste campaigns in mainland China. Before joining Greenpeace in 2005, she worked as an organizer for MoveOn.org in Michigan during the 2004 US presidential elections and a consultant for Save the Children's North Korean Refugees Project in China's border with North Korea. Jamie has published articles in various magazines, including Our Planet, the United Nations Environment Programme's flagship magazine. Jamie has also been interviewed extensively as a China environmental expert by various media outlets such as the BBC, NBC, CBS 60 Minutes, the Associated Press, Reuters and China Central Television. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Brown University with a B.A in International Relations; she also received her M.A. in Development Studies from Brown University. She is fluent in English, Korean, Spanish and Chinese.
Asadej Kongsiri is the Head of Thailand for Bank of America Merill Lynch's Corporate and Investment Banking. He joined BofAML in 2005 and is presently responsible for the various business activities carried out in Thailand including investment banking services (initial public offerings, mergers and acquisition advisory, debt capital market offerings), wholesale corporate banking services and fixed income, currencies and commodities related services. Prior to joining Merrill Lynch, he worked for the investment department of JPMorgan in Hong Kong and Bangkok. Asadej has also worked as a project engineer and finance officer for PTT Public Company Limited, Thailand's listed national oil and gas company. He received his high school education in the United Kingdom (Charterhouse School) and graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Manchester, England. He went on to earn an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management on a scholarship from PTT Pcl.
Nitinant Wisaweisuan is the Vice Rector of International Affairs, after having been the director of International Trade Law and Economics at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand. She has previously served as the University's Vice-Dean for International Affairs; chair of the Economics Student Exchange Fund; and Director of the Bachelor of Economics International Programme. Nitinant was also President of the Cambridge Society Thailand from 2008 to 2009. Nitinant was a visiting scholar at the Centre of Economic Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. She was a fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar on the "Confronting Protectionism" session and the Freeman Symposium on "Strengthening Cooperation between the US and East Asia." Her research interest is regional policy and trade integration, in particular the ASEAN Economic Community and European Union. She received a BA in economics from Thammasat University, and an M.Phil and a Ph.D in Land Economy from St. John's College, University of Cambridge, UK.
Adam Gilmore is Division Chief Engineer for the Space Shuttle Program at NASA. Previously, he was the Mechanical Systems Lead for NASA at the International Space Station, where he worked closely with NASA's international partners on this multinational endeavor. He led teams within the United States and across the world in preparation for Space Shuttle launches and in the resolution of anomalies aboard the International Space Station. His notable awards at NASA include the Silver Snoopy award in 2006 and most recently, NASA's agency-level Power of One award in 2011. Believing in science as a tool for diplomacy, Adam has inspired children to take interest in engineering and technology-based careers, both locally and internationally. Using locally available materials and interactive student led demonstrations, Adam has taught over 11,000 children in Nepal, India, and the Philippines. Outside of NASA, Adam is an active member of Houston World Affairs Council and Toastmasters International. Other interests include real estate investment and adventure sports. He has a bachelor's and master's degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue and Rice University, respectively. Adam also just completed a MBA from Rice University in 2010.
Alexandra Harney is visiting scholar at Hong Kong University. She is also the author of The China Price and a respected voice on labor and economic issues in China. The China Price examines the human and environmental cost of China's success as the world's factory. Alexandra spent seven years as a correspondent and editor at the Financial Times and has written for The Atlantic, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. A fluent Japanese and Chinese speaker, Alexandra is a contributing editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit and a commentator on the BBC and NPR. She has testified before the U.S. Congress and interpreted for former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Alexandra is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a cum laude graduate of Princeton University with a degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She is currently researching her second book.
Wenchi Yu is Policy Advisor of the Secretary's Office of Global Women's Issues in the U.S. Department of State. Led by Ambassador Melanne Verveer, the Office of Global Women's Issues reflects President Obama and Secretary Clinton's priority to mainstream women and gender issues in U.S. foreign policy. Wenchi assists Ambassador Verveer in mobilizing concrete support for women's economic empowerment globally through programs and initiatives that ensure women's and girls' equal access to full participation in society. Prior to joining the Department of State, Wenchi was Senior Research Associate at the Congressional-Executive Commission on China where she focused on women's rights, human trafficking, and civil society development in China. Before that, she was Vice President of Human Rights at Vital Voices Global Partnership, an international women's NGO where she led the organization's anti-trafficking initiative. She has testified before the U.S. Congress on human trafficking in China.