Partners Asia brings together dedicated professionals with deep experience and knowledge in working with Myanmar communities. Since the 1990s, the Foundation for the People of Burma, John P. Hussman Foundation, and Burma Lifeline have provided assistance to Myanmar communities in need, with their work made possible largely through the stalwart support of individual contributors. Sharing similar values and goals, these groups recognized the benefits of collaboration and linked their work through this organization, Partners Asia. Members of our Board of Directors and staff have strong and long-standing relationships with people in Myanmar and Thailand, and our staff in these countries are from the region. Partners Asia is a quiet advocate: We have made connections with and between high-level policy makers and technical experts, to engage in the policy discussions on Burma through quiet diplomacy.
Board of Directors
Hal Nathan – Chairman
Hal, who founded the Foundation for the People of Burma in 1999, has dedicated much of the past two decades to strengthening civil society through locally run projects focused on community development, health, education, women’s empowerment, and leadership training. Partners Asia continues the mission of Foundation for the People of Burma, serving the most vulnerable people of Burma – Myanmar no matter their religion or ethnicity. Hal travels to Burma at least twice a year to assess existing projects and current needs. In his professional life, Hal served as a partner and senior portfolio manager at Seneca Capital Management, an institutional money-management firm in San Francisco. Hal received his PhD in monetary economics from the University of California and worked in finance for nearly 30 years, teaching at Michigan State University and UC Davis and serving as an economist at Continental Illinois Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, and the Office of the Controller of the Currency in Washington DC. As an environmental activist and practicing Buddhist, Hal has also served on the boards of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory and Spirit Rock Meditation Center.
Jane spent more than 15 years in the IT sector, working on systems design, development, sales, and support for several corporations in the San Francisco Bay Area. During that time she became involved with non-profit agencies and for the last 27 years has had the privilege of serving on a variety of boards around the country. She has extensive fundraising and board governance experience and continues her involvement with organizations in San Francisco, Seattle, and Connecticut.
Joe is a healthcare technology executive focused on product innovation in startup to midsize organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. He fell in love with the people of Myanmar on a visit in 2006 and has returned several times since then. Joe co-founded a non-profit organization in 2010 to provide support to a Buddhist monastery serving Myanmar refugees in Oakland, CA. He’s passionate about helping the people of Myanmar, particularly the rural and poor, during this historic time of transition.
Pwint advocates for rural population and the poor to have access to information, finance and social safety net using technology. A consultant with the CGAP/World Bank, she advises the government of Myanmar on digital inclusion and financial services for the poor.
Pwint has chosen to work in technology as she gets much personal satisfaction from being able to connect loved ones together, and she has witnessed that technology can be a crucial catalyst for change. Originally from the Irrawaddy delta, she spent the past decade in the US working on innovation in the telecommunications industry; she managed innovation lab and new product development team that worked on innovating new products in telecommunications industry in the US. After seeing the impact of mobile payment platform M-PESA across East Africa, her aspiration is to create such social safety net for the poorest citizens of Myanmar.
Tabitha is executive director of the Adam J. Weissman Foundation, supporting science education and research, economic opportunity and community development. Prior to her work in philanthropy, she worked as a management consultant for Accenture serving private and public sector clients, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the United Nations Development Program. She received a B.A. from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.
Jack trained as a Buddhist monk in the monasteries of Thailand, India, and Burma – Myanmar. He has taught meditation internationally since 1974 and is one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness practice to the West. He is a founding teacher of the Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock Meditation Center. He holds a PhD in clinical psychology, and is a husband and father. His books include A Path with Heart; Buddha’s Little Instruction Book; Teachings of the Buddha; Seeking the Heart of Wisdom; Living Dharma; A Still Forest Pool; Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart; After the Ecstasy, the Laundry; The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness and Peace; and The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology.
Eileen brings 17+ years of non-profit leadership experience. She has served nonprofits at all program, fundraising, executive and leadership levels. Her resume includes over 15 years of overseeing humanitarian projects in South Asia.
Eileen’s strategic thinking and visionary approach includes supporting local leaders to create and carry out initiatives within their own communities. These partnerships have produced a path to education for displaced children, social enterprises for refugee settlements, reproductive healthcare for under-served women, and corrective surgery for Nepal’s poorest disabled children. During her tenure at The American Himalayan Foundation, she oversaw the growth of project partnerships from 35 to 120, grants from $700,000 to $3 million, and the number of people benefiting from the projects from 5,000 to 20,000 per year.
Her lifelong passion for social and environmental justice includes working with the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), where her leadership skills moved CEH’s groundbreaking work onto bigger platforms and increased funding.
Eileen has a BA from Smith College and served on the Board of Partners Asia for eight years.
Southeast Asia Regional Advisor
Therese has worked with refugees, migrants, and displaced persons in Southeast Asia for more than 30 years together with community-based organizations, international bodies, foundations, and academic institutions. Her work has emphasized building leadership and skills in local communities and contributing to policies that shift resources responsibly to the local level where they are most needed. Therese has published on the wide range of vulnerabilities faced by mobile populations. She emphasizes participatory approaches to conducting research and development projects. Therese has a Master’s degree in Public Health from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok and is currently on faculty with University of Washington, Seattle University, and Thammasat University.
Zunetta speaks fluent Burmese and has been involved in Burma advocacy work at official and nongovernmental levels for more than 20 years. She has lived in Myanmar for long periods, notably in the 1980s when she was conducting research for a PhD in anthropology. She has advised governments and UN bodies, academics, and international NGOs and has written discussion papers for numerous international conferences. Zunetta worked on human rights issues in Burma for many years, before becoming involved with Foundation for the People of Burma in 2009. She is also the Chair of the International Advisory Board of the Yangon Heritage Trust. Zunetta holds a Master’s in International Relations with an emphasis on development from Plymouth University and a Bachelor’s First Class in Social Anthropology with Burmese language and literature from SOAS, London University.
Marla’s 30-year career predominantly focuses on building businesses and leadership, creating growth and delivering bottom line results in both the profit and non-profit sectors. Career specialties include building teams, leveraging relationships and creating new opportunities.
Marla built designer businesses at Nordstrom, where she was responsible for $26.7M, with exceptional results. She established a culture of connectivity, knowledge, great events and impeccable service. Most recently with the American Himalayan Foundation, Marla was the STOP Girl Trafficking Ambassador, in charge of raising funds and awareness for a $1M trafficking-prevention program which safeguards 10,000 at-risk girls in Nepal. She built relationships with Google, Yahoo! and Eagle Creek and supported groups who organized new initiatives: Teens Against Trafficking, Stop Traffick at Middlebury College and the Girls saving Girls Club. Marla’s desire is to create genuine interest and secure the resources to support the leaders and communities being served by Partners Asia.
Myanmar Country Director
Kaung Nyunt has a degree in civil engineering. After his graduation he spent some time working in the Government Irrigation Department and later the China National Petroleum Company as a seismic surveyor. These experiences opened his eyes to how the poor Burmese villagers were at the mercy of corrupt corporations and officials who cheated them and violated their rights. He realized that the poor were easy victims of such abuse largely because of their lack of knowledge and how important education is to give poor and isolated communities access to information and know their rights. Kaung Nyunt later gained a scholarship to Chiang Mai where he was trained by a well-known Burmese educator as a trainer in Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking (RWCT). Kaung was in Yangon when cyclone Nargis struck, and became involved as a volunteer then as a program coordinator helping Partners Asia’s community recovery projects. He later became the Education Director for Partners Asia, giving training and technical assistance to our partners in Myanmar and Thailand. He is currently a lead researcher in the participatory action learning project for Partners Asia. Throughout this time, he has continued to support and provide training in the development of RWCT teaching programs through the Center for the Promotion of Monastic Education, the Socially Engaged Monastic Schools project as well as being a committee member of the National Network for Education Reform.
Program Manager, Thailand
Amanda has been living and working in Thailand for more than five years. Her relationship with Asia first began as a Peace Corps Volunteer along Thai-Cambodian border. During this time, she worked as a caregiver for HIV+ children living in residential care and helped build the facility’s capacity through grant writing and fundraising. This experience eventually led her to pursue Public Health as a Master’s student at Thammasat University in Thailand.
After graduation, Amanda worked as a researcher for Partners Asia and has most recently completed data collection for a UNICEF funded study on a Situational Analysis of Children Living in Alternative Care in Thailand with Special Emphasis on Children Affected by HIV/AIDS.
Amanda has been collaborating with Partners Asia since 2013 and began working as Thailand’s Grant Manager in July 2014. Amanda is fluent in the Thai language.
Lou has worked for the past 9 years in the private, public, and non-profit sectors as a program manager and outreach coordinator.
Lou has managed marketing campaigns and implemented outreach programs, and is a trained facilitator. He is skilled at developing strategic, targeted communications to engage with an audience and promote action. Prior to joining Partners Asia, Lou worked for over 6 years in the sustainability sector, helping educate employees and homeowners in Alameda County about energy efficiency.
Lou has a BA in Economics from the University of California, San Diego.