2018 Young Leaders Institute: India


In order to be prepared for the challenges of the 21st century, students need to be globally competent. The Young Leaders Institute (YLI) is a week-long program intended to prepare Houston high school students for leadership in a globally interconnected city and world. Students will engage in the four tenets of global competency:

  • Investigate the world
  • Recognize perspectives
  • Communicate ideas
  • Take action

For 2018, Asia Society is offering three different sessions. The second session will focus on India and address the following issues (subject to change). Asia Society staff will also arrange a field trip on one of the days of the week.

  • Cultural diplomacy and India’s influence around the world
  • Educational and social reform in India
  • India’s economic infrastructure and growth corridors
  • Population growth and access to resources in India
  • U.S.-India relations in the 21st century
  • Women and social issues in India

Students will learn the value of collaboration as they work in teams, researching, debating, and presenting solutions for the challenges facing our world. They will be mentored throughout the week by Asia Society staff and local experts in their respective fields. All content provided will help students form arguments when taking the side of an issue and be invaluable when presenting policy recommendations on the Institute’s last day.

Over 70 students benefited from the Young Leaders Institute in 2016 and 2017. For questions, please contact Paul Pass, Business & Policy Programs Manager, at PPass@AsiaSociety.org or 713.496.9915.

About the Speakers

Rick Pal at Asia Society

Rick Pal is an award-winning entrepreneur and investor. Currently he serves as the managing partner of Zuhnë, one of the fastest growing brands in kitchen and bath fixtures. Prior experience spans clean-tech manufacturing with AirGenerate (licensed to Electrolux), retail service with Emprise (acquired by Liberty Tax Service), and senior roles with several high-tech firms - EnterpriseWorks (acquired by Iconnix), Commerce One (Nasdaq: CMRC), and Webify Solutions (acquired by IBM).

He is the founder of Innokul, first privately funded incubator for start-ups in eastern India and Ek Disha (now merged with America India Foundation), a non-profit to support and facilitate high-impact sustainable projects in health, education, and enterprise with a focus on South Asia. He is a limited partner of Houston Health Ventures, seed stage funder and mentor for healthcare companies. His involvement in social ventures include LegWorks, Wello Water, UE LifeSciences, KTK-BELT, and Embrace Global (merged with Thrive Networks). He has served as a mentor for start-ups at IIM Calcutta Innovation Park, GoodWorks Houston, University of Houston MBA Club, Asia21 Action Lab, and MIT’s Emerging Worlds.

He created “Pal - Make a Difference” endowment in 2006 at The University of Texas at Austin awarding annual scholarship to students making a difference within their communities and “Friends of India Studies” endowment in 2015 at The University of Houston. He is a Board member of Texas Union Advisory Council at University of Texas at Austin, UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dean’s Advisory Board, and Fort Bend Education Foundation and has served on City of Sugar Land’s Building Standards Commission, Fort Bend ISD Bond Committee, and Texas Exes Scholarship Committee. He is a TEDx speaker, Asia21 Leader, Texas Next Generation Project Fellow, Indiaspora member, and guest speaker at University of Houston’s SBDC.

He is a graduate of McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin where he was the first 2-term Chairman of The Texas Union in school history. In April 2017, he summited Mera Peak, a 6476m mountain in Himalaya.


Sunanda Vashisht at Asia Society

Sunanda Vashisht is a writer, political commentator and a columnist. She writes for several news portals and has been a columnist for Daily News and Analysis (DNA), India based newspaper published from Mumbai, India. Her area of focus has been conflict ridden state of Jammu and Kashmir and she has written extensively covering all aspects of conflict that is considered the most volatile region of South Asia.

In 2015, Sunanda co-founded MyIndMakers- a new age media company that enables the exchange of global ideas and solutions. Understanding that the digital is the way forward, MyIndMakers is a news and views website that focuses on Indian subcontinent and Indo-American issues. Currently she writes exclusively for MyIndMakers.

Sunanda also is part of a popular weekly podcast called, MyInd Podcast. It is a first and only weekly podcast of its kind devoted to Indian and Indo-American issues. MyInd Podcast has successfully completed 160 episodes. She also routinely takes up speaking assignments where she speaks about India and issues pertaining to India.

Sunanda has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from prestigious St. Stephen’s College in New Delhi, India. She can be reached on twitter via her handle @sunandavashisht or via e-mail at sv@myind.net.

About the Facilitator 

Mary Reed Image

Mary Reed is a Social Studies teacher at Memorial High School. She earned her B.S. in 1975 from Oklahoma State University. After graduation, she taught United States History in Alief ISD and served as Social Studies Department Chairman. At Memorial High School she has taught AP World History and World Geography at the PreAP, GT, and academic levels. She has served as PTA president and Campus Improvement Team member, District Improvement Team member, and curriculum writer. Being raised on three continents has given Mary an appreciation of other cultures and a love of travel. She has experienced 42 different countries, and imparts her global curiosity to her students both inside the classroom and through leading international summer trips. She is a scholastic coach to several teams including: UIL Current Issues and Events, UIL Social Studies, World Affairs Council Academic WorldQuest Challenge, and Texas Quiz Bowl. She is also the sponsor of her high school chapter of Model United Nations. She has been a featured presenter in other school districts, at professional conferences, and for the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston. She recently presented “Korea: the Forgotten Victory” in Washington, D.C.

Additional Sessions

Session 1: China | Monday, June 11–Friday, June 15
Session 3: Middle East | Monday, July 30–Friday, August 3

Education and outreach programs at Asia Society Texas Center are made possible through generous funding from Karen Chang, Greater Houston Community Foundation, and the George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation. Generous funding also provided by the Friends of Asia Society Texas Center, a premier group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing exceptional programming and exhibitions to Asia Society Texas Center.

Program Sponsors

2018 Young Leaders Institute Collaborator

World Affairs Council of Greater Houston

Event Details

Mon 16 Jul 2018 - Fri 20 Jul 2018
8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

1370 Southmore Blvd, Houston, Texas 77004

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