In December 2019, 200 leaders from 33 nations and territories across the region traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to begin their journey in the first-ever Leaders: Asia-Pacific program.
One of them was Australian Skye Riggs.
Before joining the program, Skye led a successful career helping nonprofits and government initiatives ramp up their engagement before turning her attention to voter turnout. After finding herself disengaged from campaigns in Australia’s 2013 federal election, Skye discovered that an overwhelming number of young Australians felt similarly. So she founded Y Vote, an organization intent on making it easier for young people to engage with politics and understand the impact of their vote.
Over the course of the week-long convening, President and Mrs. Obama—along with Tony Fernandes, Oyun Sanjaasuren, Tim Brown, Tong Yee, and other prominent speakers and thought leaders from the region—spoke with Skye and her peers about their experiences creating and implementing new solutions, as well as the importance of values-based leadership. In keeping with our commitment to service, the Leaders also spent a day building desks and other supplies for a school in the local community.
During the convening, Skye met Tim Middlemiss, another Australian Leader who partners with movements, businesses, and people to support them in their efforts to bend the world toward justice. It didn’t take long for them to realize that their worldviews overlapped, their skills were complementary, and that working together would amplify their impact.
Skye and Tim had a shared vision of supporting young people to harness their agency in civic systems, energize them about political processes, and empower them to contribute to positive change in every sphere of their lives—and they gathered input from their fellow Leaders to determine how they could best execute it. What started as a conversation in the foyer of the Leaders: Asia-Pacific convening is now Ripple Opens in a new tab—an organization that seeks to equip purpose-driven young people from every corner of Australia through tailored civic experiences as well as career and community opportunities.
Combining Skye and Tim’s networks, Ripple now serves a community of over 10,000 young people between the ages of 18 and 25 in Australia, giving them the support they need to build thriving communities. They’ve also piloted a ten-week leadership development and community building program for emerging leaders in five local government areas. None of it would have been possible without their determination—and the bond they formed at Leaders: Asia-Pacific.