Obama Foundation Leaders Asia-Pacific 2022 FAQ

The 2022 Leaders Asia-Pacific Program

The 2022 Leaders Asia-Pacific application is now closed. Please check back for more information on the program and future opportunities.

Q: What is the 2022 Leaders Asia-Pacific program?
The 2022 Leaders Asia-Pacific program is a six-month, fully virtual leadership development and community engagement program. For 8-12 hours a month, the program will bring together a small cohort of emerging leaders from across the Asia-Pacific region to build a strong community of support founded on a shared vision of values-based leadership.

Participants (know as “Obama Leaders” or “Leaders”) will take part in weekly sessions that include:

    • Individualized coaching
    • Conversations with thought leaders
    • Trainings related to values-based leadership
    • Cultural programming that showcase the richness of diversity in the region
    • Creating a safe space and cultivating learning opportunities with other participants

Upon completion of the program, Obama Leaders will become part of the Obama Foundation’s global leadership network – a new generation of civically active, positive role models who are prepared to create tangible solutions to the challenges of our time.

Q: Which nations and territories are part of the Leaders Asia-Pacific program?
Nations and territories included in the Leaders Asia-Pacific program are:

American Samoa; Australia; Brunei; Cambodia; China, PRC; Cook Islands; Federated States of Micronesia; Fiji; French Polynesia; Guam; Hawai’i; Hong Kong, PRC; Indonesia; Japan; Kiribati; Korea, North (DPRK); Korea, South (ROK); Laos; Macao, PRC; Malaysia; Marshall Islands; Mongolia; Myanmar; Nauru; New Caledonia; New Zealand; Niue; Northern Mariana Islands; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Philippines; Pitcairn Islands; Samoa; Singapore; Solomon Islands; Taiwan; Thailand; Timor-Leste; Tokelau; Tonga; Tuvalu; Vanuatu; Vietnam; Wallis and Futuna.

Please note that residents of South Asian countries are not eligible for this particular program. The Obama Foundation expects to offer leadership programs for South Asian countries in the future.

Q: Who is eligible to apply for the program?
ALL of the following eligibility criteria must be met by applicants in order to be accepted into the Leaders Asia-Pacific program.

  • Citizenship/Residency: Must be based in an eligible Asia-Pacific nation or territory AND meet ONE of the criteria below:
    • Citizen of an eligible Asia-Pacific nation or territory OR
    • Permanent resident of an eligible Asia-Pacific nation or territory OR
    • A refugee or asylum seeker in an eligible Asia-Pacific nation or territory OR
    • Lived in an eligible Asia-Pacific nation or territory for at least the last 5 years, regardless of legal status.
  • Geographic Focus: Work is geographically focused on creating positive change for their local community, an eligible Asia-Pacific nation or territory, and/or the broader Asia-Pacific region. Demonstrates a strong commitment to continue to work in the Asia-Pacific.
  • Leadership Experience: Can demonstrate at least 3 years of relevant experience in their issue area.
  • Age: Will be between 24 and 40 years old on April 1, 2022.
  • Language Proficiency: Professionally proficient in English (spoken and written).
  • Political Campaigns: Will not be engaging in an electoral campaign for political office between April to September, 2022.
  • Program Commitment: Can commit to fully participating in the entire duration of the program from April to September, 2022 (between 8 and 12 hours of live virtual programming per month).

Q: What type of person is an ideal candidate for this program?
Aside from the specific eligibility criteria listed above, the ideal candidate:

  • Has a clear issue of focus and can describe the impact they have made: The ideal candidate has been working to advance positive social change on a specific issue or set of issues for at least the last three years and can demonstrate that their work has had a measurable impact in advancing progress on their issue.
  • Holds a leadership position in their changemaking work: The ideal candidate holds a leadership role in a civil society organization, start-up or business, the media or elected office. This could be someone who is the founder or head of an organization, but it could also be someone who leads positive change from within an organization. Candidates do not have to be engaged in this work full-time.
  • Stands out for their integrity and values-driven approach to leadership: Ideal candidates demonstrate a deeply ethical, values-based, and collaborative approach to leadership. They are generous leaders, eager to share opportunities and open doors for others. They bring a strong commitment to equity, to inclusion of communities that have been historically marginalized, and to working together to build a brighter future.
  • Demonstrates a willingness to learn: Ideal candidates have a keen sense of how much they can learn from others, regardless of their experience level. They bring genuine curiosity and an open mind and are willing to share their experiences and knowledge with their cohort.

Q: What kind of sessions should I expect as part of the program?
Sessions will include, but will not be limited to:

  • Individualized and tailored coaching opportunities
  • Conversations with thought leaders based in the region and beyond
  • Trainings related to leading through complexity, resilient and sustainable leadership, values-based storytelling, and strategies to drive social change
  • Programming that showcase the richness of different cultures
  • Creating a safe space with other participants through small group interactions

Q: What if I need to miss some sessions?
To participate in the Leaders Asia-Pacific program, we ask that you make every effort to attend all of the Core Program (approximately one session per week, 8-12 hours per month, with several sessions falling on the weekends). We understand that the program requires a significant and extended time commitment, and that both personal and professional circumstances may occasionally prevent you from joining sessions. We ask that participants try not to miss more than three sessions over the course of the six-month program.

Q: Will there be additional work required outside of the program sessions?
Occasionally, we may ask you to do some preparatory or follow-up work for a session. However, we understand that many Leaders are working full-time and/or have other personal and professional commitments. We will try to keep additional work to a minimum.

Q: When will we receive the program calendar?
The Leaders Asia-Pacific program will run from April to September 2022. Selected candidates will receive a detailed program calendar prior to the start of the program.

Q: I have a disability. Will the Foundation make accommodations to ensure that I can fully participate in the program?
We are committed to making this program accessible to leaders with disabilities. We encourage applicants with disabilities to apply and to let us know what kind of support you would require to enable your full participation in the program. We will always strive to meet your needs as best we can.

If you are a candidate with disabilities who requires special accommodations in the application process, please contact [email protected]

Q: I don’t have a laptop or reliable internet access. Will I be able to fully participate in the program?
You will need access to a computer with a camera and a reliable internet connection to fully participate in the program. However, if you face technical barriers, we strongly encourage you to apply and to let us know what kind of support you require. We will do our best to accommodate your needs, but please understand that we may not be able to accommodate all situations.

Q: Will Leaders be paid a stipend?
Leaders will not be paid a stipend.

Q: Will the Obama Foundation offer grants or other types of financial support for my work?
No. The Obama Foundation is not a grantmaking entity.

Q: Will we have the opportunity to meet in person?
The 2022 program will be fully virtual. In light of current public health realities, it is highly unlikely that we will host an in-person convening during the program. As a result, there is no travel required for this program.

The Application Process

Q: What is the deadline for submitting my application?
The 2022 Leaders Asia-Pacific application will close at 11:59 PM MYT (GMT+8) on Thursday, December 9, 2021. In order to avoid technical glitches or other problems due to issues such as internet access, we strongly advise you to complete the application early. Due to the number of applications we receive, the Obama Foundation cannot be responsible for applications that are not submitted on time, regardless of the reason.

Q: I am having technical issues submitting my application. What can I do?
Please email [email protected] for technical issues.

Q: What happens if I am unable to complete my application before the deadline?
Unfortunately, we cannot accept applications after 11:59 PM MYT (GMT+8) on Thursday, December 9, 2021.

Q: Is there an education requirement for admission?
No, there is no education requirement for admission to the Obama Leaders programs.

Q: Does my social impact work have to be my full time profession to be eligible?
No. Candidates do not have to be doing their social impact work full-time or as their main profession to be eligible. Ideal candidates have a clear issue area of focus and can clearly illustrate the impact of their work.

Q: I have reviewed the application requirements, but I’m still unsure if I’m eligible to apply for the program. What should I do?
We encourage you to begin the application! As you answer the questions honestly and thoughtfully, we hope it will become clear if this program is right for you. If you have questions about a specific eligibility requirement, please email [email protected]. Due to the high volume of applications, you might experience a delay in response, so please contact us well before the deadline.

Q: If I applied in past years and was not selected, can I apply again this year? Can I apply in future years?
Absolutely! We encourage applicants who were not selected in previous years to apply again, as long as you still meet the eligibility criteria. Previous applications won’t impact or influence this year’s review process. If you are not selected this year, we hope you will apply again in the future.

Q: I am a citizen or permanent resident of an eligible nation or territory in the Asia-Pacific region, but don’t currently reside in my country of citizenship/residency. Am I eligible to apply for the program?
It depends. You are eligible for the program if you currently reside in any eligible Asia Pacific nation or territory. However, applicants who currently reside outside of Asia-Pacific are not eligible to apply.

Q: How are Leaders selected?
The selection process will take place from December 2021 to April 2022. We carefully review every application and do additional research to verify information included. Finalists are invited for virtual interviews with Obama Foundation staff and program alumni.

Q: Will the Obama Foundation contact my references?
The Obama Foundation will reach out to references on a case-by-case basis. We ask that references do not contact the Obama Foundation.

Q: How will I find out if I have been selected for the Leaders program?
All applicants will be notified of their status via email in April 2022. Please add [email protected] to your contacts to ensure that emails regarding the program do not go to your spam folder.

The Obama Foundation Global Network

Q: What is the Obama Foundation’s alumni network like? How can I stay involved after completing the program?

Once you complete the Leaders Asia-Pacific program, you will become part of the Obama Foundation’s alumni network, a global community of values-driven leaders. As of Summer 2021, there are more than 700 alumni in the Obama Foundation’s network. They include participants from other Obama Foundation programs.

Alumni have access to a range of Foundation support. The alumni experience includes continued engagement with your cohort, opportunities to meet alumni from other regions and programs, invitations to Foundation events, a regular alumni newsletter, and more.

Alumni also play a key role in shaping future programming and recruiting new Leaders cohorts. We expect Obama Leaders to take their responsibility as role models seriously and to demonstrate generous leadership as mentors to others in the network and in their own communities. As we continue to grow and build out alumni offerings, we hope that you will remain engaged with the Foundation and its global network.

If you have any additional questions, contact [email protected].