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President Obama Announces Obama Foundation Asia-Pacific Leaders Program

January 7, 2019 at 10:31 AM CST

Foundation will host major gathering of emerging leaders in Asia in 2019

HONOLULU, Hawaiʻi -- President Barack Obama announced late Sunday that the Obama Foundation will formally launch an Asia-Pacific Leaders program in 2019, including a major convening in Asia of young leaders from across the region.

This Asia-Pacific program will build on and connect with the Foundation's inaugural international Leaders program in Africa that launched in 2018 and brought together 200 emerging leaders from around the African continent for a one-year leadership development and civic engagement training initiative.

President Obama made the announcement at the conclusion of a workshop the Foundation hosted in Hawaiʻi January 4-7, featuring 21 leaders from 16 countries and territories across the Asia Pacific. The young leaders engaged in leadership development sessions and hands-on design workshops to help guide the Foundation"s future programming.

"[The Asia Pacific] is a place of tremendous diversity and natural resources and rising economic and political power, and it's also a very young region," said President Obama, speaking (Opens in a new tab) before community leaders and stakeholders in Honolulu on Sunday evening. "So today, I'm pleased to announce that this year we're going to bring our next regional leaders program here in the Asia Pacific just as we did in South Africa."

President Obama also participated in a session during the workshop with the leaders, hearing directly from them about the hard and soft skills they need to strengthen and develop, the support they need to amplify and accelerate their impact, and key issues such as climate change, human rights, and good governance that should be addressed in the Asia-Pacific Leaders program.

"You talk to [these leaders] and you will be reminded about how much talent and energy these young people have, this generation has, and how ready they are to get moving building even bigger, more impactful organizational efforts than they’re already doing," President Obama added. "And I've also heard more than once from them about the value of connecting to one another, how they're sharing ideas, making relationships, and building the type of movements that can move the world forward."

The Foundation hosted the design workshop in Honolulu given President Obama’s deep ties to Hawaiʻi, as well as the unique position of Hawaiʻi, both geographically and culturally, in the Asia Pacific. In addition, two of the 21 leaders who participated in the design workshop, held in cooperation with the University of Hawaiʻi, were from Hawaiʻi.

"Part of what we’re going to be trying to do with the Obama Foundation promote a values-based approach to leadership development, because we believe that real leadership involves dialogue and inclusion and tolerance and a commitment to human dignity, that if you don’t get that right, whatever technical solutions you come up with are going to end up failing," President Obama said. "And that, by the way, is another good reason why we're in Hawaiʻi. Growing up here, I experienced firsthand how people from different backgrounds can learn from one another and work together to create a thriving community."

The Leaders: Africa and Leaders: Asia Pacific programs are part of the Foundation's efforts to inspire, empower, and connect people to change their world. In 2018 the Foundation launched a series of programs aimed at supporting community engagement both in the United States and around the world -- including the Obama Foundation Fellowship, Scholars program, and Community Leadership Corps, as well as the Global Girls Alliance and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. The Foundation is also honoring the Obamas' legacy of community engagement through building the Obama Presidential Center and Museum on the South Side of Chicago.

The date of the convening in Asia will be announced later in the year. To learn more about the workshop, including to see a list of all the leaders, visit

For photos from the Hawaii workshop, please see our Flickr album (Opens in a new tab).

Full video of President Obama’s remarks may be found here (Opens in a new tab).



Laura Lucas Magnuson, Obama Foundation, [email protected]

Amy Higa, iQ 360 for Obama Foundation, 808-386-6790, [email protected]