The iLEAP Southeast Asia Leadership Initiative (SALI) has a vision to grow a thriving network of civil society leaders and social innovators from ASEAN countries who are both rooted in their local work and connected to strong global partners. SALI pursues this vision by bringing together civil society leaders from ASEAN countries to Seattle, Washington, USA for intensive trainings in social innovation, leadership development, network building, and cross-cultural learning and exchange. SALI also convenes graduates within Southeast Asia for advanced trainings and network strengthening.
In the midst of a rapidly changing technological, social and political landscape and thousands of years of history and traditions, Southeast Asia is a growing hotbed of development and innovation. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) set a goal of 2015 to create an “economic community” and open the region for greater travel, trade and tourism, cooperation between governments and the potential for new strategic partnerships across borders.
As the region rapidly grows in political and commercial significance, it is clear that this is the right time to equally invest in civil society and social innovation. The significant changes in the coming years will provide both great opportunities and challenges for local communities and leaders to build broader networks and respond to very unique needs of the region. Furthermore, civil society leaders throughout Asia have a great deal to share with each other about social innovation and the broader international community about their experiences leading change efforts on such issues as human rights, peace and reconciliation, and reducing the prevalence of HIV. More than ever we need civil society leaders and social innovators who can build effective and strategic international partnerships both within Asia and with the United States.