Harpswell Hosts Sixth Annual ASEAN Women’s Leadership Summit in partnership with the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)

Harpswell’s sixth ASEAN Women’s Leadership Summit will kick-off in Penang on June 1, 2024.

Harpswell is a US-based 501c3 nonprofit that advances young women leaders in Southeast Asia with education, training and a supportive network.

Penang, Malaysia: Harpswell’s sixth ASEAN Women’s Leadership Summit, in partnership with USM will kick-off in Penang on June 1, 2024. The Summit is bringing together 22 women leaders from for-profit and NGO organizations spanning education, health, government and community impact - two from each of the ASEAN nations as well as Nepal - for two weeks of leadership development and professional networking led by international experts. The annual summit was founded in 2016 and is organized in collaboration with the Centre for Research on Women and Gender (KANITA) at Universiti Sains Malaysia. 

This year’s summit will include sessions on ASEAN Society in 2024 and beyond with public policy analyst Dr Chheang Vannarith, Gender Opportunities with KANITA’s Dr Dato Noraida Endut , a workshop on technology, ai and leadership led by Women’s Alliance for Knowledge Exchange (WAKE International), sessions on critical thinking and debate led by MIT Professor, author and Harpswell founder Dr. Alan Lightman, and sessions on women’s leadership in the workplace led by former senior diplomat and current Head of Public Policy and Government Relations APAC at Stripe, Penny Burtt.


-   “The ASEAN Summit is a highlight of Harpswell’s annual programming, bringing together inspiring young women from throughout the region to collaborate and create lasting professional bonds. I look forward to learning from this year’s outstanding participants, each of whom is dedicated to making a positive impact in their community and country in diverse fields from law to environmental sustainability.” - Alan Lightman, Harpswell Founder & Board Member, Professor of the Practice of the Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

-   “Now in its 6th year, this Summit proves that it is a sustainable sphere for young women to come together, to collectively harness their talent and potential for the greater good of their diverse communities. As project leader for KANITA, USM I look forward again to meeting my young counterparts, to continue to co-learn and re-learn with them with the common aim of achieving gender equality in the world.”  Prof Dato Dr Noraida Endut, KANITA, USM

-   “The 2024 ASEAN Women’s Leadership Summit cohort is sure to bring a broad set of unique perspectives and experiences to our program in Penang this June. Harpswell is proud to gather this group of incredible women, investing in their leadership journeys as changemakers.” Shelly Kessler, Chair of the Harpswell Board of Trustees, Principal of SK Consultants   

2024 participants:


• Basyirah Jamaludin, is a dedicated cancer researcher and a proud woman in STEM. She has degrees from King’s College London and is currently advancing her studies at Universiti Brunei Darussalam in the area of cancer genomics.

• Nazhirah Zaim, is a Research Student majoring in Nursing. She recently completed and published her Master's research project exploring the utilisation of COVID-19 home remedies in Brunei.


• Ly Nhokchin, is a graduate of Royal University of Law and Economics, and hailing from a rural area in Prey Veng Province, in southeast Cambodia, she is currently working as an Associate at Rajah & Tann Sok & Heng Law Office specializing in dispute resolution.

• Sievlan Len has a Masters in International Policy from Stanford and is a public sector consultant for the World Bank in Cambodia focussing on revenue mobilization, leadership innovation, and education governance as part of the public finance reform program. Prior to her current position, she worked in economic consulting at Cornerstone Research in California and management consulting in Phnom Penh.

• Suon Raksmey, is Program and Leadership Centre Manager at Harpswell. As a graduate of Harpswell’s Leadership Class of 2010, she has several years of teaching experience and has worked as Early Childhood Education Facilitator at the Cambodian Children’s Fund in Phnom Penh.


• Lina Agnesia is a graduate of Anthropology at Brawijaya University. She is involved in social research, particularly as a qualitative researcher. Since 2018, she has been interested in exploring issues related to young people, especially reproductive health and gender equality. She is also a research assistant consultant at PUSKAPA, University of Indonesia.

• Saraswati Nur Diwangkara is a Marketing & Communication Associate at Ashoka. One of her publications is Who (Can) Speak: Subaltern Discourses of Asian Women Artists. And currently, with friends they are building a collective scholarship movement from alumni for female school students called the “Beasiswa Persaudarian”.


• Samkham Meunsy has worked with Save the Children International on gender-based violence and currently works to support the government and the World Health Organization (WHO) by using a positive approach to help the communities, women, the elderly, and children access health services to reach "good health and well being."

• Thitphathay Vorarath is Project Coordinator at a civil society organization that supports healthcare work and nutrition systems with NGOs. in Laos. She committed to improving the livelihoods of marginalized communities and advocating for social justice.


• Alixia Lee Hwei Lih is a Cognitive Science graduate from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, passionate about leveraging technological innovations to elevate user experiences in the HR sector. At her organization, Alixia she promotes Diversity & Inclusion, and her volunteer work includes education improvement, poverty alleviation, rural healthcare empowerment and sustainability advocacy.

• Najwa M. Sukri, is a fervent advocate for mental health and embarked on this career via her psychology undergraduate program. She is now pursuing graduate studies in counselling, enhancing her expertise and volunteering in programs focussed education empowerment and welfare projects for the elderly and children.


• Thin Zar Myint Moh is a dedicated feminist activist and human rights advocate deeply committed to promoting social inclusion and gender equality. As the founder of "Chwin Toon," a creative project advocating for gender equality and social inclusion, she uses art and entertainment to raise awareness and challenge stereotypes and works directly with local women in Myanmar, collaborating on various initiatives to address systemic barriers and amplify their voices.


• Rya Celine Ducusin is a communications professional with extensive experience in the development and humanitarian sectors including her role at Start Network. She is a Salzburg Global Fellow at Salzburg Global Seminar and a Social Science for Humanitarian Action Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.

• Leigh Ginette Fuente has a solid track record in non-profit developmental and humanitarian work. Working around the Philippines with an array of local and international organizations, she has championed various advocacies such as women and youth empowerment, good governance, and climate change.


• Urvi Guglani works at Silverdale Capital in their Strategic Initiatives team and is founder of the Female Bond Fellowship- a 10-week twice-a-year global fellowship providing mentorship, education and speaker series, and year-long education on fixed income. Passionate about increasing financial literacy globally, she graduated with UC Berkeley, where she studied Computer Science and Economics.

• Arina Koul is a strategy consultant at Arup, a sustainable design consultancy; passionate about creating livable, healthy, accessible and equitable cities for all. She holds a degree in Environmental Studies, with a minor in Urban Studies, from Yale-NUS College.


• Jintapa Bannapradist, works at the Raks Thai Foundation, focusing on migrant health to improve well-being for immigrant communities, especially in health. She holds a degree in Thai Studies from Thammasat University with first class honors.

• Niaswanee Kortornilo is a human rights and peace advocate from Thailand’s deep south. Her human rights work involves migrant workers’ rights as well as combating forced labour and human trafficking. She is also passionate about gender equality and tackling sexual and genderbased violence especially in marginalized groups.


• Le Thi Kim Nhung is an English lecturer at Vietnam Women’s Academy, which is affiliated with Vietnam Women’s Union. Through the experience in working with female entrepreneurs who have successfully started and run their own businesses after participating in “Start-up Smart For Women” joint project carried out by Vietnam Women’s Academy and U.S.Embassy & Consulate in Vietnam, she has a keen interest in learning about social change when the role of women is improving day by day.

• Nguyen Hoang Linh serves as an official at the International Relations Department of the Vietnam Women's Union, a socio-political organization representing legal rights and legitimate interests of Vietnamese women and striving for women’s development and gender equality.

About Harpswell: Harpswell is a US-based 501c3 nonprofit that advances young women leaders in Southeast Asia with education, training and a supportive network. We envision a new generation of women leaders who create and inspire positive social change. Founded in 2005 by Dr. Alan Lightman, Harpswell runs two residential leadership dormitories in Phnom Penh through the Cambodian Women’s Leadership Program. In 2016, Harpswell expanded programming to include the ASEAN Women’s Leadership Summit in Penang, Malaysia. Since its founding, Harpswell has graduated 235 Cambodian Women’s Leadership alumnae and 87 ASEAN Summit alumnae.

About Kanita:  https://kanita.usm.my/

As a Centre of Excellence, KANITA is committed to research, advocate and community engagement, utilizing and promoting a gender and social equality framework. It strives to impact academia, the state, women and society at large.

For further information or media interviews please contact: Jacyl Shaw (Executive Director) at [email protected] or Basye Peek (Communications Officer) at [email protected] 

Asia Research News is a partner for the sixth ASEAN Women’s Leadership Summit organised by Harpswell Foundation.