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President and Mrs. Obama to Speak at Foundation Gathering of Rising Leaders in the Asia Pacific

October 14, 2019 at 10:59 PM CDT

CHICAGO — Today, the Obama Foundation announced that President and Mrs. Obama will speak at the Foundation’s inaugural Leaders: Asia-Pacific gathering in Malaysia in December. The gathering, which will take place December 10-14 in Kuala Lumpur, will bring together 200 emerging leaders from countries across the Asia Pacific as part of a year-long program focused on values-based, ethical leadership.

Consistent with the Foundation’s mission to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world, the Leaders: Asia-Pacific program represents the Obama Foundation’s commitment to the region and belief that these emerging leaders, through the extraordinary work they do in their own communities, have the potential to positively effect change across the globe. The 200 Leaders represent more than 30 nations and territories across the region, work in a variety of fields across the public, private, and non-profit sectors, and have demonstrated extraordinary potential for impact, a clear commitment to integrity, and a capacity to advance the common good within their spheres of influence.

“The Asia-Pacific region holds a deep well of talented and passionate emerging leaders, and it is a region of great importance to President Obama given his strong roots in Indonesia and Hawaii,” said Bernadette Meehan, the Foundation’s Chief International Officer. “This program will build upon the community organizing legacy of the Obamas, with a focus on shared values and ethical leadership, and we are excited to embark on a year-long program to empower these leaders to tackle the unique challenges they face in their communities.”

The Leaders program builds on the Foundation’s work over the past two years with young leaders from Chicago to Johannesburg -- and is informed by the guidance and insight of 21 leaders from 16 countries in the Asia Pacific who helped design the program at a January 2019 workshop with President Obama in Hawaii. The leaders who joined the Hawaii design workshop will also participate in the full Leaders program.

The gathering in Kuala Lumpur will include plenary sessions, skill-building workshops, leadership development training, and opportunities for connection among leaders across sectors and geographies -- all from an Asia-Pacific perspective. Through such sessions, the leaders will grapple with ethical dilemmas and work on creative, values-driven approaches to problem solving. They will also explore how their personal narratives can be used to support and enhance their leadership. When participants return to their communities, virtual programming will continue for a year, through a speaker series, technical trainings, educational workshops, action plan guidance, and support and amplification from the Foundation.

Mrs. Obama previously announced that she will be traveling to Vietnam in December as part of the Foundation’s Girls Opportunity Alliance efforts to drive awareness and action on the importance of adolescent girls education. To underscore the importance of girls education, the Leaders: Asia-Pacific cohort will include several emerging leaders who focus on girls education and empowerment from across the region.

The first Leaders program, focused on rising leaders in Africa, was held in Johannesburg in 2018 and 2019. The Obama Foundation has launched several other civic engagement programs that engage young leaders globally, including the Obama Foundation Scholars and Obama Foundation Fellows. In addition, the Foundation has hosted roundtables, town halls, and workshops with President Obama in Germany, Indonesia, Brazil, India, Singapore, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Colombia, and Canada to help inform the Foundation’s global programming.

Media interested in the Leaders: Asia-Pacific gathering in Kuala Lumpur December 10-14 may contact [email protected] (Opens in a new tab) and/or sign up for our press releases at (please select “Asia programming and related news” to follow the Asia convening). Further details on the event and a call for requests for credentials will be released in the coming weeks.


Contact: Laura Lucas Magnuson, [email protected]