Surin Pitsuwan ’72 Appointed to Rockefeller Foundation Board of Trustees

The U.S.-based Rockefeller Foundation, whose longtime and worldwide humanitarian and development work also includes that in the Southeast Asia and the Mekong Sub-Region, has appointed the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, to its Board of Trustees.

In announcing the appointment, the Board’s chairman, James F. Orr, III, said, “I am pleased to welcome Dr. Surin, with his incredible experience in the government and academic sectors of Southeast Asia, to the Rockefeller Foundation’s Board of Trustees.” The Rockefeller Foundation, he added, continued to work to bring on new trustees, such as Pitsuwan, with diverse backgrounds, skill sets, and unique points of view to help advance the work of Rockefeller Foundation as it moves forward.

The President of the Foundation, Dr. Judith Rodin, said, “Dr. Surin, with his strong leadership and background in Southeast Asia, will bring valuable counsel to the Rockefeller Foundation as a member of our Board of Trustees. As a global foundation with a strong presence in Southeast Asia, Dr. Surin’s unique insight will provide important guidance as we work towards innovative solutions to the challenges that face some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

The Foundation, founded in 1913, also works to promote public health, education, human resources development, agriculture and environment in the Mekong Sub-Region. The Rockefeller Foundation had also supported ASEAN in the “ASEAN-Rockefeller Foundation Project on Intellectual Property Laws Review and Capacity Building on IPRs Related to Public Health in the ASEAN Region,” a project which helped ASEAN member states thoroughly assess national intellectual property laws, identify available legal options for increasing access to affordable medicines and enhance local legal capacity with regard to intellectual property rights and public health. It was followed by a regional report that was published and disseminated to relevant stakeholders in the region.

On accepting the appointment, Pitsuwan said that he was grateful for the recognition and would utilize the opportunity to enhance engagement with the Rockefeller Foundation to enhance its work in the Mekong Sub-Region, and also the wider ASEAN region and the global community.

“I hope to bring some of the wealth of information and experience that the Rockefeller Foundation has obtained from its work around the world to ASEAN to help us in the region to address some of the common challenges that we face such as food security, health-care and impacts of climate change,” Pitsuwan said in Jakarta.

The Rockefeller Foundation fosters innovative solutions to many of the world’s most pressing challenges, affirming its mission, since 1913, to “promote the well-being” of humanity. Today, the Foundation works to ensure that more people can tap into the benefits of globalization while strengthening resilience to its risks. The Foundation’s initiatives include efforts to mobilize an agricultural revolution in Sub-Saharan Africa, ensure access to affordable and high-quality health systems in developing countries, and develop strategies and services that help vulnerable communities cope with the impacts of climate change.

Pitsuwan, a renowned political and educational leader in Thailand, studied for two years at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Thailand, before winning a scholarship to CMC where he majored in political science and graduated cum laude in 1972.

He then went on to Harvard University, earning his master’s and doctorate degrees in 1974 and 1982, respectively, in political science and Middle Eastern studies. Returning to Bangkok, Pitsuwan spent nearly a decade teaching at the Faculty of Political Science at Thammasat University from 1978-1983 and 1984-1986, where he also served as an assistant to the deputy dean for academic affairs. From 1975-1992 he was a columnist for the Nation and the Bangkok Post, the two leading English daily newspapers in Bangkok.