YSEALI Professional Fellows Program

The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Professional Fellows Program offers opportunities for educational exchanges between U.S. and Southeast Asian leaders.


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View a Fellows Video

About the YSEALI Program

ICMA, with funding from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), offers the Professional Fellows Program--an opportunity for young professionals from Southeast Asia to learn about environmental sustainability through a four-week fellowship. Fellows are part of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), a program that enables young leaders from ASEAN countries to work directly with counterparts in local government offices across the United States to enhance their practical expertise, leadership skills, and professional contacts to address challenges and create new opportunities in their home communities. 

Fellows come from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. The goal of the program is to create institutionalized long-term partnerships that support these emerging leaders and their institutions in the ASEAN countries and the U.S. to inspire change in creating responsive, open, and accountable governance.

    Participating host communities have an opportunity to apply for a two-week reciprocal exchange at the end of the program. Selected participants then travel overseas to spend approximately two weeks with their ASEAN counterparts on projects of mutual importance.

    ICMA works with the following international affiliates and partners to implement the program:

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    Media and Blog

    Past program participant Noor Shahiwan Bin Ismail put his experience from the YSEALI Professional Fellows Program to work in an aboriginal village in Malaysia with Mark Bortman, an outbound U.S. Fellow. Together, they visited houses to examine solar energy systems and to complete some maintenance and installations. Here's a video:


    View another video about the YSEALI Professional Fellows Program.

    Both U.S. and international fellows are invited to share their experiences on the YSEALI Fellows blog.

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    ICMA invites young professionals from ASEAN countries to apply for the Professional Fellows Program.

    See Frequently Asked Questions about the YSEALI program.

    To apply, complete this application. Contact fellows@icma.org for more information.

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    ICMA matches Fellows with U.S. host communities that provide educational and cultural experiences for the Fellows during a two-week period. In return, hosts may apply for reciprocal visits in the Fellow's country. Past hosts have found the experience highly rewarding. Here's an example:

    “The opportunity to work with the nation of Indonesia has been a chance for my organization to broaden their perspectives of municipal government responsibilities and focused it on our best practices. As City Manager, I personally have seen a new appreciation by my staff for the challenges of municipal government beyond our borders. I believe the continued opportunity to work with Indonesian counterparts allows me to grow professionally and obtain new ideas for use in my American city.” – Mark Watson, City Manager, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

    To express interest in hosting, please complete this form.

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    Past Programs

    Since 2010, ICMA has received awards to manage the Professional Fellows Program funded by the U.S. State Department, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The overall goal of the program is to create a global network of emerging local government leaders to positively impact practices at their organizations and in their communities by enriching their leadership skills and cultural understanding and by providing opportunities for knowledge exchange and ongoing collaboration. Following are past programs:

    Legislative Process and Governance Professional Fellows Program/Indonesia, Timor-Leste

    Legislative Process and Governance Professional Fellows Program/China, New Zealand, Thailand

    Sustainable Communities Professional Fellows Program

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