WHEN former US President Barack Obama comes to Kuala Lumpur in December, he’ll be meeting with 200 of Asia Pacific’s most promising young leaders – including quite a few from Malaysia.
The meeting will kick-off the first cohort of the Obama Foundation Leaders: Asia Pacific programme, a year-long programme which focuses on “values-based, ethical leadership”.
The selected leaders from Malaysia come from various fields – media, social activism, and even aviation and property development – but all have the same drive to create positive social impact.
“This is a huge honour for me because I’m all about youth empowerment, and this is proof that youths are capable of making a change,” said Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) coordinator Amalina Ariffin, one of the selected leaders.
Social enterprise Biji-biji Initiative group CEO Rashvin Pal Singh called his recognition as a regional leader “humbling”.
“I think this programme is a huge opportunity, especially for developing countries in the region because we face similar development and policy issues,” he said.
“It’s important that we get to connect and leverage off each others’ skills.”
Here’s a quick introduction to the Obama Foundation Leaders selected from Malaysia:
Siti Aishah Hassan Hasri
Siti is the founder of SPOT Community Program, an education program that provides comprehensive sexual education to girls ages 9-12 years old. She believes educating girls on sexual education helps shape confident and resilient girls, and is passionate about making valuable and long-lasting impact.
Tee Ee Lynn
Tee is the head of innovation and new ventures at Sime Darby Property, where she uses technology to deliver sustainable solutions. She believes that the standard of living for communities can be enhanced through technology. Tee is passionate about advancing gender equality and problem-solving through design thinking.
Rozella is the founder of True Complexion, a social awareness platform that uses the art of storytelling to highlight issues related to differently-abled communities. She believes that sharing stories promotes empathy and peace amongst different communities, and hopes to educate children about the diversity of communities.
Yee is the editor and producer of R.AGE, the Star Media Group’s social impact and investigative journalism team. He believes responsible journalism has the ability to inspire social change, and is most enthusiastic about creating content that changes people’s lives.
Chew is the Asia Pacific regional coordinator at the International Detention Coalition, an organisation that envisions a world that respects the rights and dignity of immigrants. She believes that rights-based policies, collaboration, and solutions-focused approaches can help achieve a world that is free from unnecessary immigration detention. Chew is focused on programmes that produce innovative solutions and enable self-advocacy and leadership by communities.
Cheryl Ann Fernando
Cheryl is the country director for Global School Leaders Malaysia, an organization that provides training support and leadership skills for local school principals. She believes people can come together with a collective vision for a better world. Her passion is about improving public education to provide quality education for all children.
Shasha is the group head of the global affairs and sustainability team at the AirAsia Group. She believes in providing opportunities for people to thrive, and in using mentorship as a tool to help others achieve their goals.
Wong Gwen Yi
Wong is the founder of Tribeless, an organisation that provides experiential empathy education through card-game conversations. She believes that equipping people with empathy skills leads to a world that puts humans first, and works to optimise social interaction.
Ng is the co-founder and CEO of Raintree Development, a workspace that enables organisations to network, educate, and work. She believes human capacity is the most critical resource to the development of Cambodia, and is most concerned about employability and private-public education interventions.
Chan is the programme lead at Acumen Academy Malaysia, an organisation with a mission to unleash entrepreneurial moral leaders across the country. She believes in harnessing the collective potential of social innovators across multiple lines of differences to solve Malaysia’s most pressing social inequities.
Rashvin Pal Singh
Rashvin is the group CEO of the Biji-biji Initiative, a group of social enterprises that champions sustainability and creative education to achieve collective impact. He believes that together, people can solve world issues with the help of resources and technology. Rashvin is excited about creative and equitable economics, culture, and music.
Amalina is a youth advocate and co-founder of environmental education accelerator programme Chili Padi Academy. She believes youth hold the key to the future as they are the changemakers for the future, and to that end, champions youth empowerment as well as environmental justice.
Kho is a special project senior executive at the AirAsia Group. He believes connectivity is necessary in driving positive change and improvement in society, and is always pushing for innovative ideas through human-centered approaches.
Lim is an executive assistant at the AirAsia Group. He believes that through AirAsia, flying can be affordable for all people, and is passionate about improving the mobility of people to foster greater peace and understanding.
Originally from the Philippines, Largo is a Senior Executive for the AirAsia Foundation. Kathleen is passionate about encouraging social intrapreneurship in companies that create shared value for customers.
Nalindra Annalia Pelekai
Hailing from Indonesia, Nalindra is a Consultant working on youth development programs. She believes that through positive leadership, and a platform to generate ideas into action, people will be empowered to make global change.