Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Jo Kwong rocks

Let me briefly write about a good friend in the US, Ms. Jo Kwong, left in this photo, along with our 2 Japanese friends, Mr. You and Hiroshi. This was during the Atlas Liberty Forum in Atlanta, April 2008.

Jo is the Vice President for Institute Relations of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation (www.atlasnetwork.org) in Washington, DC. Atlas is supporting free market think tanks and public policy institutes around the world with management tools, networking with fellow free market groups, prizes in competitive contests and nominations for various projects.

I have known Jo Kwong in April 2004, when Atlas granted me an international fellowship to the US. It was my first exposure to other free market-oriented groups, think tanks and individuals from many parts of the world.

Jo Kwong rocks. I used to call her the "superwoman of Asian liberty movement" as she was instrumental in starting the Asian Resource Bank Meeting (ARBM) and later the Asian Liberty Forum (ALF), in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) in 2004 (HK), 2005 (Phuket), and 2006 (KL). Picture here taken in 2004 in HK, with Joe Lehman of Mackinac Center for Public Policy (Michigan) and Ugnius Trumpa of Lithuanian Free Market Institute.

Atlas, however, discontinued the ALF in 2007 to start its new program then, the "Atlas Experience". It's good that the Americans for Tax Reforms (ATR), International Policy Network (IPN), Acton Institute, and Lion Rock Institute (LRI), started the Pacific Rim Policy Exchange that gathered free market think tank leaders and individuals from north and south America, with their counterparts across the pacific ocean. The Conferences were held in 2007 (Honolulu), 2008 (HK) and 2009 (Singapore). FNF of course has its annual EFN-Asia conferences, but they invite only their partners.

Jo worked to bring some Asian free market leaders to attend some conferences and seminars of Atlas in the US through some travel grants. I personally thank her for giving me a few travel grants, like the Atlas Liberty Forum in Atlanta in 2008 and the Atlas Liberty Forum in Los Angeles in 2009.

I personally know most leaders of Asian free market- and liberty-oriented think tanks and institutes -- from China, India, Pakistan, Japan, Mongolia, S. Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, etc. In fact I created and moderate a discussion list for us, along with a few friends from the US and Europe. A number of those uncompromising Asian leaders who champion individual liberty would attest how Jo Kwong has personally helped them and their think tanks in the Atlas network. Like Parth Shah of the Center for Civil Society, India (www.ccsindia.org) and Khalil Ahmad of Alternate Solutions Institute, Pakistan (www.asinstitute.org).

Well, Jo is the highest offical in Atlas with Asian blood and looks. Although she was born in the US, her parents are from China and HK. I would admit that this is one reason why it's a lot easier for me to communicate with her, we are both Asians. And I guess our other Asian friends would feel the same way.

In a few days though, Jo will be leaving Atlas where she has worked for the past 20 years. She will move to another free market NGO, the Philantrophy Roundtable (www.philantrophyroundtable.org). With her new office and work, I believe that Jo will still help old and new friends who fight for individual freedom, wherever they are in the globe.

Keep kicking, Jo!


Unknown said...

Nonoy -- You have me smiling! What a wonderful tribute to my time at Atlas. As I pack up my things and get ready to move on, it's relationships like your that I'll remember and treasure.

Sure, I was always happy to help you attend Atlas meetings. But not just because you're a great guy (which you are!), but because of your amazing networking energy. For example, I looked forward to your immediate write ups on every event you attend, usually posted within hours of its conclusion (how DO you write so much?) But more than that, i think you are absolutely unrivaled in your constant celebration of everyone else's successes.

More than anyone else, you consistently share the work of others, point out their articles, events, and achievements. In a world where so many focus on themselves first, you are a true gift to all of our free-market friends. Thank you, Nonoy!

Bienvenido Oplas Jr said...

Haaa, why do I write so much? well, in the case of the conferences where my participation was sponsored, writing a paper about the event is the minimum I can do to say "thank you" to my sponsor/s.

I sometimes laugh at myself, so when other friends have produced great papers or presentation materials, I have to feature them, at least in the MG website. Then I can continue laughing at myself :-)