Class of 2017


“Leadership is leading the way you like to be led. It is about empowering and enabling people and having the humility to listen, learn and serve.”

CHERRIE ATILANO is the founder and CEO of AGREA Agricultural Systems International, Inc., an agro-social enterprise that aims to help eradicate poverty for farming and fishing families in order to alleviate the effects of climate change and establish food security in the Philippines. AGREA has been mobilizing communities, businesses, academia, local and national governments, and international partners to bring an “Ecology of Dignity” to farming and fishing communities on the island of Marinduque. Previously, Atilano worked as a consultant with the Department of Agrarian Reform in the Philippines and helped to form a cooperative of 241 smallholder farmers in the country. 

Atilano is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and Advisory Board Committee Member. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneur in 2017, The Outstanding Women in Nation’s Service Award in 2016, and Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines in 2007, among others. She graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s in horticulture from Visayas State University.



“True leaders are called upon by circumstances to drive a group of people to a better place, and their vision must be anchored in wisdom, long-term thinking, political finesse, empathy, and humility. Effective, wise leadership is executed in a way that is self-reflective, fully open to criticism and improvement, and inclusive.”

JIEUN BAEK is a doctoral candidate in public policy at the University of Oxford, where she is studying early dissenters in authoritarian countries. Previously, she was a research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University where she authored North Korea’s Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground is transforming a Closed Society (Yale University Press, 2016). Baek worked at Google, where among other roles she served as Google Ideas’ North Korea expert. She has appeared on NPR, Al Jazeera, Arirang, and KBS, and has written for Politico, The Huffington Post, and various Harvard publications. Baek co-produced a 53-minute documentary on Korean families divided since the Korean War called “Divided Families” and works with North Korean defector organizations that send information into North Korea.

Baek received her bachelor’s degree in government and master’s degree in public policy from Harvard.



“I want people around me to be able to freely share their ideas and empower them to execute those ideas without fear of failing. Because this is how they will learn. This is how I learned and is what brought me where I am.”

SEREY CHEA is director general at the National Bank of Cambodia and chairwoman of Cambodia’s Credit Bureau. In this capacity she is involved in the design and implementation of the financial and monetary policy of Cambodia. She sits on the Alliance for Financial Inclusion’s committee on gender and women's financial inclusion, a global initiative to promote women’s access to finance. She is also a board member of Smile Cambodia, Khmer Sight, and Raksa Koma Foundation, and she serves as president of the Cambodia Economic Association.

Chea received her MBA in banking from the University of London, a post graduate certificate in commerce and administration from the University of Sydney, and a BCA in finance and accounting from Victoria University of Wellington.



“I am passionate about using entrepreneurship as a catalyst for change, particularly in a rapidly developing Asia. As such, I hope to use the business and government networks and resources I have gained in my 15-year career as a financier of new and fast growing businesses to turbocharge the growth of social enterprises and their causes.”

ROBIN CHIANG is a venture partner with Welkin Capital Management. He previously served as managing director of investments at Haitong International, vice president at AEA Investors, and an analyst with Morgan Stanley. Chiang is passionate about his role as a growth equity and angel investor to empower entrepreneurs to create opportunities for themselves and their communities. Some of his investments include Aidi Education in Beijing, a leading international school catering to local children; Sinomachinery in Shanghai, a leader in agriculture machinery; and Allume in Australia, which facilitates sharing of solar energy cheaply and efficiently.

He holds undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering and law from the University of Melbourne and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.



“Not all the things in the world are equal and just, and it takes great leadership to amend such discrepancies.”

KUSHAL GURUNG is an entrepreneur and champion for low carbon economic development. He is the founder and CEO of WindPower Nepal, a company that provides low carbon solutions to the country’s problems. Gurung contributes regularly to newspapers, has been featured in television interviews, and delivers lectures and presentations on climate change, renewable energy, and entrepreneurship. He also assists the Nepal Mountaineering Association design and organize their Annual Mountain Festival, which is aimed at protecting Nepal’s mountain environment and culture as well as enhancing the livelihoods of mountain communities. Gurung is a member of the Energy Development Council, a non-profit umbrella association of organizations involved in the energy sector, where he acts as an advocate for energy policy reforms.

In February 2017, the government of Nepal appointed Gurung as an expert member of the Environment Protection Council, chaired by the prime minister of Nepal. He holds a master’s in carbon management from the University of Edinburgh.



“A leader is a problem solver who seamlessly combines intellectual maturity and a passion for driving change. A leader is approachable, and views others’ success as his own. Effective leaders see success in nurturing and empowering others rather than looking after and satisfying their personal interests. A true leader takes more blame and less credit because, as I have witnessed through personal experience, it’s ultimately the team that defines success and failure of a leader, not the other way around.”

SAYED ZAFAR HASHEMI is the political counselor at the embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C., where he manages the embassy’s relations with the U.S. Congress. Prior to this, he was deputy (and acting) spokesman for the president of Afghanistan, managing and coordinating communication between the presidential palace and government with local and international media. Previously, Hashemi worked for the Afghanistan service of Voice of America, reporting on Afghan, American, and world affairs for radio, television and the web — in both Farsi and English. He managed public affairs and communications at the Afghanistan Stabilization Program under the Afghan Interior Ministry, and a UNDP-funded project to produce media content about democracy, elections, and civic participation in post-9/11 Afghanistan.

Hashemi holds a bachelor’s in political science and journalism from the University of Maryland University College and an master’s in public management from Johns Hopkins University.



“My leadership style emphasizes sharing knowledge, being comfortable with ambiguity in complex adaptive environments, being open about personal success as a non-linear process, and trusting others with responsibilities that are meaningful, challenging, and pivotal to the overall success of a project.“

MELISSA JARDINE is board director for the Global Law Enforcement and Public Health Association (GLEPHA) and gender advisor and communications manager for the Centre for Law Enforcement and Public Health. She is a former police officer with a deep interest in the development of policing, law, and security in Asia. Jardine began her Vietnamese-language studies at Monash University in 1997 and is currently a doctoral candidate at the UNSW Law School on the topic “Policing in a Changing Vietnam.” She has conducted primary research on provincial economic growth in China and its relationship to punishment for economic crimes, has studied Arabic, and has examined counterterrorism in the ASEAN region.

Prior to commencing her doctorate, Jardine completed a master of Asian studies at Monash University followed by a master of philosophy at The University of Melbourne, where her thesis examined police responses to the implementation of drug harm reduction programs in Hanoi, Vietnam.



“In my own reflection, leadership is a journey with a powerful vision to better the lives of others by empowering them to succeed. It’s about inspiring others to have visions through leading by example. Building credibility around the work with courage and persistence is crucial for productive leadership.”

SHOUGAT NAZBIN KHAN is the founder and chairperson of the H.A. Foundation and H.A. Digital School and College in Bangladesh, an organization seeking to empower disadvantaged rural communities by providing them with quality education and skills training through digital tools. Khan has developed a gender responsive strategy for education, and training and entrepreneurship development that responds to the needs of rural people. In recognition of her achievements, she was awarded the Commonwealth Youth Award for Excellence in Development Work and Outstanding Contribution in Education Award 2017, among others. Khan was named Asia Young Person of the Year in 2016 and received the Green Talent Award for her innovative sustainable development projects.

She is currently working on information communications technology and entrepreneurship training programs for unemployed rural youth and women, and was recently featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list of Asian social entrepreneurs. Khan graduated with a master’s degree from Pondicherry University in India.



“Throughout my life, the purpose of my leadership has been located in public service with an emphasis on democratizing information. I have been guided by my passion for organizing information so that it can be used by those who need it the most.”

RAHEEL KHURSHEED heads news partnerships for Twitter in India and Southeast Asia. In this role, he leads the development and rollout of civic tech products — such as Twitter Seva, Twitter Samvad, and SmartFeed — that democratize information, help governments perform their jobs with accountability and transparency, and enable meaningful citizen engagement. Khursheed’s innovative product and partnerships work — from Twitter SMS alerts to live data on national television — have dramatically altered how elections and politics are narrated in India. He previously served as director of communications for India at, leading an effective strategy that seeded petitioning as an organizing tool, and organized the “Stop Rape” campaign that helped change rape laws in India. A cross-platform journalist and storyteller, Khursheed has worked in, written, produced, and broken stories for outlets such as Vice and PBS.

He has had the rare distinction of winning the 2017 Knight Visiting Nieman Fellowship at Harvard and the 2017 Yale World Fellowship in the same academic year.



“It is only by realizing that a leader exists to serve others that great leaders are molded with a sense of commitment to make a difference. I find that great leaders are able to not only live out their own purpose and mission in life, but act as change makers to ignite and empower others to live out their purpose. A great lesson from leaders who have inspired me is to never think that any job or task is below oneself, rather to act with humility of service in the treatment of others.”

SASIBAI KIMIS is currently managing partner at Earth Heir, a luxury craftsmanship brand that infuses modern design into traditional crafts. Prior to this, she was a vice president in the investments division at Khazanah Nasional and served as a director in the private equity team at First Avenue Partners LLP. Kimis also worked in Ghana with Opportunities Industrialization Centers International and UNDP, and in New York as an investment banking analyst at Lehman Brothers. She was one of Wharton’s “40 under 40” award winners in 2015 and was an Eisenhower Fellow in the 2015 Women's Leadership Program, where she focused on socio-entrepreneurship and preserving heritage craftsmanship skills.

Kimis graduated cum laude from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s in economics (finance and management) and obtained a master’s in environment and development from Cambridge University.



“I have always realized that leadership is an important calling that must be backed up by passion, hard work, and ethical behavior. Leadership, for me, has been the ability to lead by setting examples and be willing to commit one's own free time and resources to the cause. Leadership in many ways is also the ability to organize and network and then use group strength and coordination to address common issues and challenges.”

TENZING LAMSANG is the editor-in-chief and founder of The Bhutanese Newspaper, a private national weekly in Bhutan. His work is guided by a belief in making a positive impact on Bhutan’s young democracy and providing bold, well-researched, balanced, and contextual stories on an array of topics, providing an alternative and critical voice to public discourse. He is a four-time winner of the Best Investigative Story of the Year award. Lamsang was elected president of the Media Association of Bhutan (MAB), an organization that aims to address common issues and concerns of media in Bhutan.

He graduated from St. Stephen’s College (Delhi) with a bachelor’s in history.



“It means hearing my own inner voice and empowering others to find their own.”

LIU CHENHUI is the co-founder and chief operating officer of Apricot Forest Inc., a leading mobile health startup in China that serves over one-third of all Chinese doctors. In 2015, Apricot Forest was named one of the most innovative health care companies in the world by Fast Company magazine. Liu received her postdoctoral training at the Harvard School of Public Health, focusing on health care system reform research in rural China. As a fellow with professor William Hsiao, Liu led a research project on health care reform in Ningxia Province funded by the Gates Foundation. Prior to this, she served as a research fellow with the China Medical Board and research assistant with the Global Commission on Health Professional Education.

Liu graduated from the Harvard School of Public Health with a master of public health degree in 2010 and Peking Union Medical College with a doctor of medicine degree in 2009. She was an inaugural fellow of The Equity Initiative for leadership for health equity in Southeast Asia.



“A densely networked region of next generation leaders with shared interests in promoting an Asia Pacific community — as opposed to acquiescing to strategic drift — will advance the region’s public interest. Participation in the Initiative as a delegate will provide an invaluable opportunity to develop strong relationships with an inter-disciplinary community of young leaders committed to sustaining peace and prosperity throughout the region.”

HENRY F. MAKEHAM is a U.S. mergers and acquisitions associate with Linklaters LLP qualified to practice in New York, Hong Kong, and Australia. He has extensive experience in cross-border transactions counselling Asian clients investing abroad, especially where there is a U.S. nexus. In 2010, Henry founded the Australia-China Youth Dialogue; Australia’s preeminent track two early career leaders forum with Greater China. He serves on the Panel of Advisors of the University of Sydney’s China Studies Centre and has written on Asia Pacific regionalism, ‘Chinese Perspectives on the Feasibility of an Asia Pacific Community’, published in The Chinese Journal of International Politics (Oxford University Press). He has been a participant in the Young Leadership Dialogue of the Australian American Leadership Dialogue and the Australia-China Forum (the precursor to the Australia-China High Level Dialogue).

Makeham graduated with double First Class Honors degrees from the Australian National University in Law and Chinese Studies. He is a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavor Award, and was honored as the university’s 2015 Young Alumnus of the Year. He also holds a Master of Laws from Harvard Law School where he served as Managing Editor of the Harvard Business Law Review, and was awarded a Dean’s Scholar Prize for his work in Leadership in Law Firms.



“To me, leadership is service. It not only empowers individuals to be the change they wish to see, but also gives them a unique opportunity to positively impact the lives of others. I believe an able leader is one who can nurture and give others the confidence to come into their own. A leader is one who has the will and capacity to give back to society selflessly.”

SANA MIR is captain of the Pakistan women’s cricket team and part of a select group of seven international women cricketers who have achieved the double feat of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in One Day International (ODI) cricket. She led the Pakistan women’s cricket team to two gold medal wins at the Asia Games in 2010 and 2014 and was decorated with the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz (Medal of Excellence) in 2012 by the president of Pakistan. She was also named the PCB Woman Cricketer of the Year. She has captained the Pakistan women’s cricket team for six ICC Cricket World Cups.

On the domestic circuit, Mir captains the Zarai Taraqiati Bank Ltd. (ZTBL) team — now undefeated for the past eight years. On and off the field she serves as a role model for girls and women in Pakistan and works toward changing attitudes about women’s participation in the traditionally male-dominated sport of cricket.



“To be truly successful and impactful as a leader, you have to drop your ego, personal agendas, and hunger for praise. It’s not about you. It’s about the achievement of goals that bring you closer to the vision. It’s about the empowerment and alignment of people. It’s about innovation and creating something that’s greater than its present form. I believe leadership is a mindset. It’s something you have to be passionate about, you need the heart for it, to be strategic and intelligent, and be a catalyst of greatness to influence people and extract their full potential.”

“ALLEN” ALI MOHAMMADI is the CEO and co-founder of Hippogriff AB, a technology-innovation company based in Sweden with a vision to save at least one million lives each year. Since 2014, he has been leading an interdisciplinary team of doctors, engineers, and computer scientists to develop groundbreaking technology to detect heart disease at a significantly earlier stage. Mohammadi has been selected by Forbes as one of the 30 most influential innovators in Europe and was featured on the magazine’s “30 Under 30” list in 2017.

He holds two master’s degrees in engineering technology from Uppsala-University in Sweden and Karlsruhe-Institute-of-Technology (KIT) in Germany with a specialization in innovation and entrepreneurship.



“Being a leader means that you have a voice and are able to send out a message to others. Leadership comes with privilege but also responsibility to affect somebody in a positive way. Leaders have a duty to connect with people with the voice that takes society forward, with impact and compassion. Time and again, I have been disappointed by influential people around the world who wield tremendous amounts of power but do not use it toward a good deed.”

JUNE PARK is a postdoctoral fellow with the Centre on Asia and Globalization at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. She specializes in U.S. foreign economic policymaking on the export-oriented countries of Northeast Asia (China, Japan, and South Korea). She is currently working on a book titled Trade & Currency Conflict: Northeast Asian States Responses to U.S. Pressures. It argues that, contrary to the conventional wisdom that geopolitical interests define China, Japan, and South Korea’s attitudes vis-à-vis the U.S., it is institutional variance among the three countries that leads to different policy responses in trade and currency conflicts with the U.S.

Park graduated with a doctorate in political science from Boston University as a Fulbright Fellow, and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from Korea University.



“A leader is not the charismatic individual who commandeers and takes center stage. Instead, authentic leaders are strong and lead their flock from behind. They are empathetic and humble. They recognize that leadership is not about themselves, but about service above self. They possesses a vision greater than themselves — to serve society, unify, inspire, galvanize, and empower others, not by words, but by example to contribute to this vision, and to recognize and hone in on their own leadership abilities.”

CHERYL PERERA is the founder and president of OneChild, the first organization in the world to empower a youth movement to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Perera’s career as a children’s rights activist spans over a decade and 21 countries. Beginning at the age of 17, she independently investigated child exploitation in Sri Lanka and worked with the National Child Protection Authority to apprehend a perpetrator, earning herself an offer to serve as the president of Sri Lanka’s Nominee on Child Protection. Since then, she has continued to help investigate cases of international child sex tourism and helped pioneer Canada’s movement against it. She also works to provide shelter, education, and long-term care to hundreds of victims and at-risk children across the Asia-Pacific. A sought-after speaker and trainer, Cheryl has shared the stage with U.N. Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon and Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi.

Perera is pursuing a master’s of advanced studies in children’s rights at the University of Geneva. She has completed an executive education in transformational leadership and public policy at the University of Oxford and at Harvard University.



"Leadership is being authentic to one’s purpose and using one’s unique capabilities in order to create value for society and facilitate the growth of people.”

ELEANOR ROSA PINUGU founded Mano Amiga Academy, a sustainable nonprofit school designed to provide high-quality education and development services to low-income communities. She is also the co-founder of Bistro 3846, a social enterprise that provides healthy meals to schoolchildren, employs the parents of the Mano Amiga students, and donates its profits to the Mano Amiga scholarship fund. Pinugu’s vision is to make quality education accessible to all children. She was named a Global Shaper by the World Economic Forum and was chosen to speak at the IdeasLab session at the 2012 WEF annual meeting in Davos, where she received a grant of $10,000 from the Good Planet Foundation. She is also one of the youngest recipients of The Outstanding Women in the Nation's Service — considered the most prestigious award for women in the Philippines.

Pinugu received her bachelor’s degree from Ateneo De Manila University and holds a postgraduate certificate in sustainable business value chains from the University of Cambridge.



“The last decade in Thailand was considered a lost decade due to political infighting and gridlock, economic stagnation, and natural disaster. It has fallen from one of the rising Asian Tigers to the sick man of Asia. I want to change that and turn this country around by rebuilding the foundation for the future generations of Thailand.

KRATING POONPOL is managing partner of 500 TukTuks, a micro-fund focused on startups that show promise in Thailand and Southeast Asia. Within 20 months, he invested in 37 startups and is currently the most active venture capitalist in Thailand. He is also the founder of Disrupt University, a pioneering startup school in Thailand and Southeast Asia that has educated almost 1,000 startup founders and influencers. Krating was named Thailand's Businessman of The Year in 2016 and was the first Thai selected to participate in the Kauffman Fellow Program — a prestigious two-year program for top venture capitalists. Poonpol previously worked as a product marketing manager with Google Earth and served as CEO of the Silicon Valley-based Moblitz.

Poonopl holds a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.



“As a journalist, particularly in the current global context of shrinking space for and attacks on the media, I know from experience that the media often acts as the bulwark against creeping authoritarianism. In this regard, while I have ensured my media organization has provided coverage to key issues that affect the country even during difficult and dangerous times, I have also used the shows I have anchored and moderated as conduits to provide space to hitherto marginalized and silenced voices.”

SHAMEER RASOOLDEEN is the host of Face the Nation, a weekly current affairs show that covers issues of social and political relevance in Sri Lanka. Prior to this, Rasooldeen was a journalist with News1st, becoming the youngest director of English news at the largest media organization in Sri Lanka. He has reported on a wide range of issues including armed conflict and natural disasters in Sri Lanka for CNN World Report as well as Channel News Asia. He was named a CNN Fellow in 2007 and awarded the Dag Hammarskjold Fellowship in 2012. He also initiated U-Report, Sri Lanka's first ever citizen journalism initiative with over 25,000 reporters, to increase the accountability of government and elected representatives and create a space for marginalized voices in television and the media.

Rasooldeen volunteers as a mentor of the Gammadda Initiative, which supports rural communities’ access to substantive solutions to address poverty and discrimination.



“The world’s most pressing development problems today transcend traditional boundaries of countries, disciplines, and sectors. Development policies are no longer just the responsibility of governments. We need passionate and open-minded leaders from different countries and sectors to come together to tackle development challenges ranging from inequality to environmental degradation from multiple angles. I believe Asia 21 provides the platform and network to do just that and make a difference.”

SANTITARN SATHIRATHAI is the head of Emerging Asia Economics Research at Credit Suisse, based in Singapore. In this role he recruits, manages, and supervises a team of economists covering nine economies in the region. In addition to his specialization in ASEAN economies, he is also responsible for conducting Pan-Asia thematic economic research. He won the award for best economic forecaster in Indonesia by Consensus Economics three years in a row, ranked first in Thailand macroeconomics in Asia Money (2015), and is part of Credit Suisse's Thailand and Malaysia research teams that consistently rank highly in various institutional investor surveys.

Prior to joining Credit Suisse, Sathirathai worked at Thailand's Ministry of Finance and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation and taught macroeconomic courses at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. He also founded Brain Exchange Initiative, a program that helps connect scholars and students to social enterprises in Thailand. Sathirathai holds a doctorate in public policy and a master’s in public administration in international development from Harvard University, as well as a bachelor’s in



“Leadership is neither in leading, nor following, but in actively resisting, persisting, and never giving up.”

JHUMA SEN is an assistant professor at Jindal Global Law School where she also serves as an assistant director at the Centre for Human Rights Studies. Her work is at the intersection of gender, law, courts and constitutionalism. Prior to her academic career, she practised law at the Supreme Court in the Offices of the Additional Solicitor General. She is also the convener of the Feminist Judgment Project, India — a project that writes alternative judgments using a feminist lens.

Sen holds an undergraduate law degree from Symbiosis Law School (Pune), and a postgraduate law degree from the University of California, Berkeley where she was an American Association of University Women’s International fellow. She has been a visiting fellow with Cornell Law School, the Erik Castren Institute (Helsinki), and the National University of Singapore. She will be a Scholar in Residence at the International Institute for the Sociology of Law at Oñati beginning December 2017 to work on her monograph on sexual harassment in workplace laws in India.



“The Asian Century and the region's continued importance in our daily lives cannot be underestimated. Equally, it must be noted that many leaders in Europe and the Americas fail to grasp the sheer scale and heterogeneity of the Asian market, and the nuanced complexities of doing business in this region. Thus, it is incumbent upon us, those who live and work in Asia, to continue to learn and to share our experiences in order to break down these barriers.”

MARK SWITKOWSKI is the executive director of the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources with the Victoria state government in Australia. He was previously a principal with the Boston Consulting Group based between Jakarta, Hanoi, and Melbourne. His primary focus was assisting clients in understanding, delivering, and optimizing capital-intensive projects across Asia. Before joining BCG, he worked for PwC and KPMG in both management consulting and corporate finance functions.

In addition to his core consultancy work, he has spent significant time working with provincial and community level entities in remote and economically marginal areas to improve access to clean water, identify higher yielding crops for farming, and enhance governance models for local governments. He holds a bachelor’s from the University of Melbourne.



“Whether it is mitigating climate change, halting North Korea's nuclear program, placing pressure on Iran, or helping poorer countries to develop, the United States relies on the willingness and ability of China, India, and smaller Asian powers to help achieve its goals. Developing a deeper understanding of the interests driving foreign policy and national security decisions in Asia is therefore vital to my own work, and is something I have striven to do, both through my reporting in the region and now in Washington, D.C.”

YEGANEH TORBATI is a reporter covering national security and foreign policy issues for Reuters based out of Washington, D.C. In this role, she covers U.S. diplomacy, how it is shaped, and how it affects the rest of the world. She also focuses on the issue of sanctions and has written about U.S. policy towards North Korea and Iran. Prior to her current role, she covered Iran for Reuters from Dubai, reporting on Iran’s 2013 presidential election, the effect of sanctions on its economy, the changes happening within Iranian society, and the nuclear crisis. Along with two colleagues, she uncovered a $95 billion financial empire controlled by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, in an investigative series published in 2013.

Torbati attended Yale University, graduating in 2010 with a bachelor’s in political science and modern Middle East studies.



“A leader is a strong-willed facilitator who knows when and how to delegate. Delegation is key in that the division of labor boosts efficiency and effectiveness. Strong will is crucial because studies show most people have inner demons and can get discouraged at times.”

WANG GUAN is a news anchor and chief political reporter based in Washington, D.C. for Asia's largest news network, CCTV/CGTN. He reports on global geopolitical news to an audience of one billion in China and around the world. Prior to this, Wang was a writer and reporter with CCTV in Beijing covering Chinese society and politics. He is one of the most followed Chinese reporters and news commentators on China's social media platform Weibo. His video on the South China Sea in 2016 generated over 100 million views in China in three weeks.

Wang serves as an advisor to top Chinese leaders on media strategies and U.S. policies on a regular basis. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a master’s degree in international relations and a bachelor’s in journalism from Communication University of China.



“There looms a crisis of democracy and governance in Asia. As AI technologies we are building for media improve, I hope to work with civic-minded young leaders across Asia, such as those participating in Asia 21, to use this technology to build greater common ground that connects us as a humanity.”

EUGENE YI is co-founder of Cortico, a social venture launched from the MIT Media Lab that uses artificial intelligence-driven media insights to connect people on greater common ground. Previously, he led product development for the Electome project at the MIT Media Lab using machine learning analytics to track the 2016 U.S. presidential election. From 2013 to 2016, he was the head of Asia Public Policy for Twitter and helped develop the company's global corporate social responsibility mission. He served at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing as a political officer covering internet freedom and the Six-Party talks on North Korean denuclearization from 2009 to 2011. He was a strategist for East Asia national security issues at the office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense and also previously served as a country director for China and Korea at the office.

He obtained a bachelor’s and a master’s in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs at Princeton University.



“A civil society leader is a person who has clear and strong commitment to the society and is capable of leading a group of people with similar will to achieve their goals.”

ZHONG ZHAO is founder and board director of Green Camel Bell, a grassroots environmental NGO in Northwest China. As the first environmental NGO in Gansu Province, Green Camel Bell pioneered the use of China’s information disclosure laws to hold polluters accountable. Zhao and his colleagues also conducted a range of programs and projects focusing on environmental education, water pollution monitoring, eco-agriculture, and grassland conservation. In 2009, he was named a “Hero of the Environment” by TIME magazine. He was a research fellow at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (LEAD) and Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program, as well as a visiting scholar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

From 2015 to 2016, Zhao participated in the Hubert H. Humphrey U.S. State Department Fellowship at the University of California, Davis on natural resources management and climate change. He co-authored A Legal Handbook for People Impacted by Water Pollution. Prior to founding Green Camel Bell, he worked as an assistant engineer at the Institute of Modern Physics in the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He received a bachelor’s degree in electronic and information engineering from Hefei University of Technology.

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