Yale World Fellows Alumni Honored by The World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum has designated eight alumni of the Yale World Fellows program — the University’s premier international training program — as Young Global Leaders in recognition of their professional accomplishments and their contributions to important global issues.

The eight Yale World Fellows honored are 2008 World Fellows Imtiaz Ali (Pakistan), Felix Maradiaga (Nicaragua) and Orzala Ashraf Nemat (Afghanistan); 2007 Fellows Verena Knaus (Austria), Maria Lisitsyna (Kyrgyzstan) and Amit Wanchoo (India); 2005 Fellow Oanh Thi Hai Khuat (Vietnam); and 2003 Fellow Emilia Sièáková Beblavá (Slovakia). Their full bios can be found below.

They are among 230 individuals chosen this year from 5,000 candidates hailing from 71 countries by a selection committee chaired by H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The new Young Global Leaders include leaders from business, academia, government, media and non-profit organizations.

Best known for its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum engages the most influential leaders from a wide variety of fields to share their knowledge, expertise and inspired ideas to improve the world and “to shape global, regional and industry agendas.”
Established in 2004 by Professor Klaus Schwab, The Forum of Young Global Leaders includes individuals who agree to dedicate a part of their time to jointly addressing global challenges and to collectively working toward a better future. The new members will join a community of 480 individuals, who convene at biannual summits, as well as at forum events and meetings throughout the year.

The Yale World Fellows Program was launched in 2002 as one of President Richard C. Levin’s internationalization initiatives. Designed to create a global network of emerging leaders and to broaden international understanding, the World Fellows Program each year brings to Yale 14-18 highly accomplished men and women from a diverse set of countries. Selected from outside the United States at an early mid-career point (generally 5 to 15 years into their professional development), the World Fellows come from a range of fields and disciplines including government, business, nongovernmental organizations, religion, the military, media, and the arts.

The Fellows spend an intensive semester exploring critical issues and undergoing leadership training, with the full resources of Yale University at their disposal. Guided by faculty advisors, the Fellows deepen their resource bases, advance their breadth of understanding and augment their skills. They also meet with students, faculty, alumni, and Yale visitors.

The program — which aims to prepare the Fellows for greater roles of leadership, expand their professional and personal horizons, and contribute to a deepening of international awareness and dialogue within the Yale community — has earned a growing global reputation for excellence and has attracted wide participation within the Yale community.

One hundred and twenty-five emerging leaders from 91 countries have participated in the World Fellows Program, including top government officials and members of parliament, political activists, NGO directors, investigative journalists and business executives.

Biographies of Yale World Fellows Selected as 2009 Young Global Leaders

Imtiaz Ali, Yale World Fellow 2008 (Pakistan); Special Correspondent, Washington Post Company
Reporting on the Taliban, al Qaeda, and Islamism in the volatile tribal region along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and in Pakistan’s conservative Frontier Province, Imtiaz Ali’s dangerous work brings to light events unfolding on the frontline of the war on terror. Previously with the BBC Pashto Service, he has also worked for some of the most prestigious publications in Pakistan, such as The News and Dawn. Since September 11, 2001, he has reported extensively on the Taliban, militancy in the border regions, and Pakistan’s military operations against al-Qaeda operatives and their local supporters in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Felix Maradiaga, Yale World Fellow 2008 (Nicaragua); Founding Executive Director, Civil Society Leadership Institute
After serving as the youngest-ever Secretary General of the Ministry of Defense, Felix Maradiaga has dedicated himself to strengthening peace, democracy, and the rule of law in Nicaragua. A recognized expert in civil-military relations, disarmament, and democratic control of defense policy, he co-founded in 2003 the Iberoamerican Foundation for Cultures (FIBRAS/Movimiento por Nicaragua), which has become one of the largest civic advocacy organizations in Central America and the Caribbean fostering democracy and the rule of law. He subsequently founded the Civil Society Leadership Institute (ILSC), Nicaragua’s first such institute. Maradiaga helped co-found Nicaragua’s Ministry of Defense in 1997, led the Ministry’s Office for Combatant Reintegration, and then directed an interagency team charged with preparing comprehensive reforms of the defense sector.

Orzala Ashraf Nemat, Yale World Fellow 2008 (Afghanistan); Founder and Chair, Humanitarian Assistance for the Women and Children of Afghanistan
As the founder of a leading Afghan NGO, Orzala Ashraf Nemat has devoted ten years to establishing and delivering training programs to Afghan women and children in refugee communities in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Often putting herself directly at risk under the Taliban regime, she launched underground literacy and health education programs for women and girls. She is increasingly involved in political advocacy and development at the national level and is on the board of directors of the Afghan Women’s Network and other human rights networks in Afghanistan.

Verena Knaus, Yale World Fellow 2007 (Austria); Co-Founder and Team Leader, European Stability Initiative
As a co-founder and team leader of the European Stability Initiative, a policy-oriented think tank active in 11 European countries, Verena Knaus has spearheaded empirical research projects in the Balkans, Turkey, and the Caucasus that promote stability and prosperity. Engaging in labor-intensive data collection on a household-by-household basis, she and her colleagues have helped ensure that policy decisions – whether taken in Brussels or in local capitals – are based on a fuller understanding of realities on the ground. In 2001, she established an independent analytical unit within the European Union Pillar of the United Nations Administration in Kosovo to study the impact of international policies on economic and political development there. Subsequently, Knaus helped create new think tanks based on this model throughout the Balkans and elsewhere.

Maria Lisitsyna, Yale World Fellow 2007 (Kyrgyzstan); Founder and President, Youth Human Rights Group
As founder and president of the Youth Human Rights Group, a prominent Kyrgyz NGO specializing in human rights monitoring and education, Maria Lisitsyna advocates for children’s rights, monitors human rights in state institutions such as psychiatric hospitals and orphanages, and runs training programs on human rights throughout Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia. A lawyer by training, she also founded the Independent Human Rights Group, which specializes in implementing international human rights agreements, providing legal representation to victims of human rights violations, and contributing to legal reform. In 2005, Lisitsyna was elected to the Constitutional Council, a body convened to amend Kyrgyzstan’s Constitution. In this capacity, she drafted proposals for constitutional amendments on Human Rights and Freedoms.

Amit Wanchoo, Yale World Fellow 2007 (India); Managing Director, Eaton Laboratories
Trained as a medical doctor, Amit Wanchoo directs production and marketing for Eaton Laboratories, the only company that produces medicines in the conflict-torn region of Kashmir. He launched a social responsibility division in the company, organizing free medical services for poor patients and providing employment to local youth. As the founder and president of the Rotary Club in Kashmir, Wanchoo has also initiated a wide range of interfaith community programs that provide social services, bring conflicting groups together, and introduce cultural events to an otherwise divided society. He also established medical treatment programs and a counseling center for Kashmiris suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder arising from the ongoing violence.

Oanh Thi Hai Khuat, Yale World Fellow 2005 (Vietnam); Co-Founder, Institute for Social Development Studies
Khuat Oanh strives to improve public health in her native Vietnam by reaching out to at-risk populations through medical services, advocacy, and education. Khuat co-founded the Institute for Social Development Studies, where she works as the Director of the Center for Health and Social Development. A medical doctor, Khuat developed a model that brought reproductive health care to over one million Vietnamese women and revolutionized abortion services throughout the country. She now works to improve treatment for HIV/AIDS patients and advocates for harm reduction approaches to prevent HIV transmission from intravenous drug use. Khuat serves as the Head of the Moderating Team for JVnet, an online bulletin and exchange network for HIV/AIDS, and has spoken on HIV/AIDS to numerous international organizations. Khuat has also lectured at the Hanoi Medical School and conducted significant research into youth sexuality, prostitution, and reproductive issues in Vietnam. Currently, she has collaborated with the WHO and the Communist Party of Vietnam to develop a new drug policy advocacy program for the country.

Emilia Sicáková-Beblavá, Yale World Fellow 2003 (Slovakia); President, Transparency International Slovakia
The World Bank, the Open Society Institute, the European Commission, and the British Department for International Development are just a few of the international institutions that rely on Emilia Sicáková-Beblavá to help them understand corruption in formerly communist countries. As president of Transparency International Slovakia (TIS), Sicáková-Beblavá uses publicity campaigns, fundraising, and lobbying to fight institutional corruption. Under her direction, TIS prepared a National Anti-corruption Plan in 1999 and lobbied successfully for its adoption by the Slovakian government. In the lead up to the 2002 parliamentary elections, TIS asked all political parties to sign a pledge saying they would support fifteen specific anti-corruption measures after the election. Eleven of fourteen political parties signed the pledge. Most recently, Sicáková-Beblavá received a Ph.D. in economics and became a member of the global Board of Directors of Transparency International. She now teaches courses on anti-corruption strategies and governance at the Institute of Public Policy at Comenius University in Bratislava.

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