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US ASEAN Young Professionals Association

Empowering the Next Generation of Indo-Pacific Leaders

Vietnamese woman selling fruit on a bike in the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam

About Us

The US-ASEAN Young Professionals Association envisions increasing the number of Indo-Pacific leaders through diplomacy, capacity-building, and conflict transformation. Our goals include career development for young professionals, investments within local Southeast Asian communities, and strengthening the long-term impact and cultural competency. 


Our History

Committed to Making a Difference in ASEAN relations.

Back in April 2019, our founder Vannary Kong traveled to Stockton, California to attend the Cambodian New Year celebrations where she saw the devastating effects of the migration trends of Southeast Asians in the United States. About 761,000 Southeast Asian refugees came to the United States in 1975. The migration effects include poverty, low matriculation into higher education, high crime rates, gang violence, etc. Vannary Kong founded the US-ASEAN Youth Council in 2020 not only to assist with the cultivation of the next generation of Indo-Pacific leaders but also to bring diplomacy back into the ASEAN Diaspora communities. In 2022, the US-ASEAN Youth Council transitioned to the US-ASEAN Young Professionals Association.

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Online Class
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Professional Development

Cultural Competency

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Vannary Kong


Vannary Kong is the Founder of the US-ASEAN Young Professionals Association. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in International Relations with a Certificate in National Security at Harvard University. Vannary is the daughter of Cambodian refugees who came to the United States from the Khmer Rouge Genocide in 1981. Her work also includes working with Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the G20 Summit protecting Intellectual Property for U.S. Businesses and Cyber measures to ensure Members of the WTO are abiding by the TRIPS agreement. She has been a guest speaker with the United Nations, G20 Summits (in Japan and Saudi Arabia), the OECD, APEC, and the EU. Vannary is a member of NextGen Foreign Policy for America and the Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security, and Conflict Transformation - Asia Pacific Working Group.

Alexi Santiago


Alexi Santiago is the President of the US-ASEAN Young Professionals Association. Alexi Santiago is a recent Master's graduate student in legal studies from the University of San Diego School of Law where she primarily focused on courses pertaining to international law. She is the daughter of Filipino immigrants who came to the United States in 1945. . She is a former Regional Director of the Borgen Project, a 501(c)(3), non-profit advocating for the reduction of global poverty She is a contributing board member to GWU's API Alumni Network, WCAPS Young Ambassador Program, member of the WCAPS Asia and Pacific working Group.

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Tasia Matthews

Director of Policy

Tasia is the Director of Policy at the US-ASEAN Young Professionals Association. She is a Master's student in Global Security Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C., where she also works as a Project Manager in nonproliferation. She is the daughter of a Thai immigrant who came to the United States in 2004. She is also a community research coordinator and contributing writer for Overachiever Magazine, where she creates content pertaining to Asian women and gender minorities and is passionate about creating spaces for underrepresented and marginalized voices.

Kris Libunao

Director of ICT and Cyber Relations

Kris is the Director of ICT and Cyber Relations of the US-ASEAN Young Professionals Association. She is from the Philippines. Kris is the Executive Director and Chief Sustainability Officer of SmartCT, improving the way smart cities and digital transformation are being developed in the Philippines. She is trained under the ASEAN Smart Cities Leaders Programme of ASEAN Foundation and Data Stewardship.


Elana Wong

Migration Advisor

Elana is the Migration Advisor at the US-ASEAN Young Professionals Association. She holds a BA Liberal Arts from Kings College London, with a focus on English Literature and Developmental Geography, and an MSc in Sociology and Global Change from the University of Edinburgh. She is originally from Malaysia and Singapore and is now based in Amsterdam. Elana Wong is one of the Global Focal Points for the MGCY Migration Children and Youth Platform, where she leads youth participation in high-level migration advocacy at the UN and state levels. She is also the co-founder of Colours of Edinburgh, a social project promoting the self-expression of refugees and asylum seekers, and specializes in migration, minority, and development studies

Jerry Nguyen

Director of Indo-Pacific Partnerships

Jerry is the Director of Indo-Pacific Partnerships at the US-ASEAN Young Professionals Association. She is a student of Global Studies and Diploma of French at Monash University. Jerry migrated to Australia from Vietnam when she was 11 years old. She is currently serving as the Asia-Pacific Regional Lead for the Migration Youth and Children Platform, of the Major Group for Children and Youth, where she has been instrumental in the management of national youth consultations for the Global Compact for Migration Asia-Pacific Regional Review.

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Amara Sengamphan

Director of Communications

Amara is the Director of Communications at the US-ASEAN Young Professionals Association. Amara Sengamphan is a senior at the University of California, San Diego where she is majoring in International Relations with a minor in Law and Society. She is the daughter of Khmer and Lao Refugees who came to the United States in the 1980s. Amara was also Chosen as 1 of 12 AAPI youth leaders to present immigration, deportation, and incarceration policy reforms as well as share personal Anti-Asian Hate stories to the senate offices of Alex Padilla, Bob Menendez, Mark Warner, Ted Cruz, Kristen Gillibrand, Rick Scott, and others.

Lyss Eng

Director of Cultural Development

Lyss is the Director of Cultural Development at the US-ASEAN Young Professionals Association. Her Cambodian heritage has largely influenced her studies in international development, educational equity, and urbanization in Southeast Asia. Drawing from her past experiences, she aspires to work in the public service sector to support underserved groups and continue her advocacy to empower Southeast Asian American communities to create an equitable society.

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Jeffrey Tram

Director of Public Relations & ASEAN Socio-Cultural News

Jeffrey Tram is the Director of Public Relations & ASEAN Socio-Culture News. Jeffery Tram was born in Bradford, Ontario, and raised by his Vietnamese mother and Chinese father. He graduated from Carleton University where he earned an Honours degree in Journalism and a minor in Human Rights and Social Justice. He has interests in music, hip hop culture, sports, politics, and social justice, and always has a sense of curiosity about the world. Jeffery has combined his passions with the skillset of a modern journalist to work on several projects. As the founder and host of AZN Connection, he looks to examine what it means to be Asian in today's world, exploring various topics and discussing important themes that hopefully lead to change within the community. As the Managing Editor of Street Voices, Jeffery looks over the content that is produced and ensures that it reaches a journalistic standard while promoting stories that empower marginalized communities. Jeffery pushes the conversation further while showcasing a strong personality on the Street Voices podcast, The Echo.

Kenzo Baskoro

Director of ASEAN Public Information

Kenzo Baskoro is the Director of ASEAN Public Information. Kenzo is an aspiring student of international relations in Tokyo with former experience in project management and communication strategy. Prior, he was involved in several projects working with the communication and branding team. He was a communication intern in the ASEAN foundation institution in Jakarta. His former projects in the institution include his contribution to the promotion of the ASEAN brand with the youth through media strategy, promoting the ASEAN youth project into focus. Recently, through his former works in the communication team with ASEAN, he was selected as a communications associate with London Politica, A pro-bono political risk organization based in London. Working through volunteering means. Kenzo is also an ASEAN enthusiast, has been contributing to ASEAN youth-led programs before this when he was selected as the Indonesian representative for ASEAN Youth Leadership Program. Through his experience, Kenzo enjoys investing time with challenges given and utilizing them into potential.