Three Eisenhower Fellows, all women, all from Indonesia, are using their fellowship experiences across decades to collaborate and enact change in Southeast Asia.

Yuli Ismartono (Indonesia 1997) , a prominent journalist and media trailblazer, uses communications to build democracy in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. During her Eisenhower Fellowship in 1997, her publication was banned by the government. She had to re-establish a path for herself, switching careers from print to television. In her work post-fellowship, she introduced “taboo” topics such as domestic violence and LGBTQ issues, for which she received criticism from religious conservatives.

For the last decade, since creating AsiaViews, she and Eisenhower Fellows Natalia Soebagjo (Indonesia 1990) and Mari Pangestu (Indonesia 1990) have forged a path of unifying the countries of Southeast Asia through their English-based website. Her ultimate goal: to bring together the community of ASEAN people to share their strengths.

Soebagjo has found that her life shifted since her fellowship. Soebagjo had professionally worked in finance and the securities market,  but when she went back to Indonesia in 1990 to begin community development and rebuilding work, she realized that communities were left without resources due to corruption. This motivated her to join Transparency International, where she currently serves on the Board, along with three other Eisenhower Fellows. This is her way to take an active stand against corruption in both her home country and across the globe. She was motivated to join AsiaViews to raise the voices of Southeast Asian expert journalists. Often, she observed, commentators from the West wrote about Southeast Asia, but were not actually experts. She wanted to shift this dynamic.

Uni Lubis (Indonesia 2011) has spent 27 years in journalism using different media platforms, and now has a strong focus on digital media and is a keen observer of how millennials interact with it. She seeks to understand what millennials have in common around the world.

Listen here to Yuli Ismartono’s story. To learn about Uni Lubis and Natalia Soebagjo, listen here.

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