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Obama Foundation Announces Inaugural Cohort of 200 Emerging Leaders in Asia Pacific

November 20, 2019 at 9:59 PM CST

President Obama and Mrs. Obama to Join Leaders: Asia-Pacific Program Gathering in Kuala Lumpur; Plenary Speakers Include Tim Brown, Pat Dwyer, Tan Sri Dr. Tony Fernandes, Helianti Hilman, Arthur Huang, Aaron Maniam, Dr. Oyun Sanjaasuren, and YB Hannah Yeoh

CHICAGO, IL – Today, the Obama Foundation announced the 200 emerging leaders who will take part in the inaugural Leaders: Asia-Pacific program, which will convene in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, December 10-14, 2019. The 200 Leaders represent the public, private, and nonprofit sectors and hail from 33 nations and territories across the Asia-Pacific region, where they work on a variety of issues, ranging from education to environment to entrepreneurship.

The five-day gathering will serve as the kick-off event for a year-long leadership program and is designed to further inspire, empower, and connect the emerging leaders to change the world. While in Malaysia, the Leaders will be joined by prominent speakers and thought leaders who will discuss topics such as progress and opportunity in the Asia-Pacific region, values-based leadership, and the intersection of purpose and entrepreneurship during a series of plenary sessions.

In addition to President and Mrs. Obama, confirmed speakers include:

  • Tim Brown, co-founder of Allbirds;

  • Pat Dwyer, director and founder of The Purpose Business;

  • Tan Sri Dr. Tony Fernandes, Malaysian entrepreneur and co-founder of AirAsia;

  • Helianti Hilman, Indonesian entrepreneur and founder of JAVARA;

  • Arthur Huang, Taiwanese entrepreneur and founder of Miniwiz;

  • Aaron Maniam, member of the Singapore Administrative Service;

  • Dr. Oyun Sanjaasuren, Director of External Affairs at the Green Climate Fund; and

  • YB Hannah Yeoh, Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Women, Family, and Community Development.

The convening in December also will consist of skill-building workshops, leadership development training, and opportunities for Leaders to connect with one another. Leaders will have a chance to apply their skills and knowledge to various real-world scenarios while using creative, values-driven approaches to problem solving. Additionally, to underscore the important relationship between service and leadership, Leaders will participate in a community service project.

Each Leader’s journey of growth will continue remotely for a year after the gathering, through webinars and a virtual speaker series, as well as support, amplification, and other opportunities from the Foundation.

The Asia-Pacific program follows the Obama Foundation’s inaugural international Leaders program launched in Africa in 2018 and represents the Foundation’s commitment to the region, along with the belief that these emerging Leaders, through the extraordinary work they do in their own communities, have the potential to positively affect change across the globe.

Meet the inaugural Leaders: Asia-Pacific cohort and learn more about the program here.

Although the gathering is closed to the general public, the plenary sessions will be made available via livestream at unless otherwise noted. The plenary schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, 10 December, 11:30 am MYT / 10:30 pm ET (Dec 9):

Plenary: We Are the Future: Progress and Possibility in the Asia Pacific

Speakers: Arthur Huang, Aaron Maniam, Dr. Oyun Saanjasuren, YB Hannah Yeoh

Wednesday, 11 December, 9:30 am MYT / 8:30 pm ET (Dec 10):

Plenary: Entrepreneurship: Working with Purpose

Speakers: Tim Brown, Pat Dwyer, Tan Sri Dr. Tony Fernandes, Helianti Hilman

Thursday, 12 December, 11:00 am MYT / 10:00 pm ET (Dec 11):

Plenary: Mrs. Obama

Friday, 13 December, 11:30 am MYT / 10:30 pm ET (Dec 12):

Plenary: President Obama in conversation with Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng

Saturday, 14 December, 9:30 am MYT / 8:30 pm ET (Dec 13):

Plenary: Ethical Leadership: Values and the Obama Legacy

Speakers: Bernadette Meehan and Ben Rhodes

*This plenary will not be live-streamed.

NOTE TO MEDIA: These plenary sessions will be open to media, although space will be limited. Members of the media interested in applying for credentials must send an email request to [email protected] by December 2 at 1:00 am MYT / 12:00 pm ET (Dec 1).

For other press related questions, please email [email protected] or [email protected].



Nicole Anaejionu, [email protected]

Farah Zuber, [email protected]