Asia Society Honors Asia Game Changers at United Nations

NEW YORK, October 17, 2014—Asia Society tonight honored Jack Ma, Chairman of the Alibaba Group, and 12 other leaders and institutions as its inaugural class of Asia Game Changers. The ceremony, held at the United Nations, recognized those making a transformative and positive difference for the future of Asia and the world. Honorees included Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai and Shanghai Normal University professor Zhang Minxuan.

Jack Ma, who was recognized as Asia Game Changer of the Year for his philanthropic contributions and innovative vision, spoke last at the ceremony.

"I never thought I'd have a chance to be at the United Nations," Ma said, who recounted his company's rise from humble beginnings. "Small is beautiful," he told the audience, adding that he was there to represent "all the small guys." Drawing on his early years as a teacher, Ma said that that as an educator "You believe knowledge will change people's lives," and explained that for him, the title CEO is an acronym for "Chief Education Officer" of his company.

Education activist Malala Yousafzai also addressed the ceremony via video message from Birmingham, where she is completing her studies.

"I thank the Asia Society for this honor, being included in [this] list of remarkable people," Yousafzai said. "There are so many countries and issues that children are suffering through, but there are game changers as well who are going to speak, who are going to change the game and who are going to work for their future. We have to do it together."

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated the Asia Game Changers at the ceremony. Ban saluted the "array of remarkable Asians" being honored, noting that "the world got a head start" on the evening's proceedings with last week's announcement that the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize would be shared by two Asians, the Pakistani Yousafzai and India's Kailash Satyarthi.

Honorees were selected based on input from Asia Society's global network. The 2014 awardees are:

  • Game Changer of the Year Jack Ma, Chairman, Alibaba Group, For history-making business and philanthropy in China
  • Shigeru Ban, Founder, Shigeru Ban Architects, For finding beauty, and hope, in the landscapes of disaster
  • Madhav Chavan, Co-Founder and CEO, Pratham Education Foundation, For bringing the gift of literacy to millions of Indians
  • Illac Diaz, Founder, MyShelter Foundation and Liter of Light, For bringing light, literally, to so many lives
  • Fashion Girls for Humanity, For demonstrating that 'looking good' and 'doing good' can be one and the same
  • Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, Minister and Senior Advisor to the Indonesian President, For providing a brilliant blueprint for responding to disaster
  • Saad Mohseni, Chairman, MOBY Group, For bringing news, information and entertainment to a barren landscape
  • Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO, Acumen, For changing the way the world tackles poverty
  • Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Founder, SOC Films and President, The Citizens Archive of Pakistan, For eye-opening films that give voice to the voiceless
  • Playing for Change, For using the power of music to spread a global message of hope
  • Pawan Sinha, Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, For a truly visionary approach to treating India's blind
  • Malala Yousafzai, Education activist, For continuing to dream, and fight for girls the world over, after living a nightmare
  • Zhang Minxuan, Professor, Shanghai Normal University, For leveling the playing field by providing quality education to millions in China

"The Asia Game Changer Awards are designed to fill a glaring gap-a lack of recognition of people who are truly transforming ideas into action and improving lives in Asia," said Asia Society President Josette Sheeran. "Our inaugural honorees represent an extraordinary range of geography and achievement. What they share in common are vision, passion and proven impact, wherever and however they happen to be changing the world."

Asia Society is pleased to have Citi as the underwriting partner for the 2014 Asia Game Changer Awards and Dinner.

Downloadable versions of the complete press release in English and Chinese are available.