UM Mansfield Center Consortium Awarded $4.2 Million

Past participants of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Professional Fellows Program enjoy their Montana experience at UM.

MISSOULA – The University of Montana’s Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, together with three U.S. partners, recently was awarded a joint $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to support international civic engagement efforts.

The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Professional Fellows Program will offer 200 emerging leaders from 11 countries in Southeast Asia a rigorous professional development and leadership exchange program focusing on civic engagement, economic empowerment, governance and society, and sustainable development and the environment. It also will support 50 U.S. fellows in a reciprocal travel program.

The consortium is led by the Washington, D.C.-based American Councils for International Education and includes two other D.C.-based organizations, the American Council of Young Political Leaders and the International City/County Management Association.

Building on the legacy of Mike Mansfield to foster mutual understanding and ethical public policy and leadership, the Mansfield Center’s program focuses on civic engagement. Southeast Asian Professional Fellows will partner with experts throughout Montana to exchange knowledge and best practices during a month-long fellowship.

The Mansfield Center has managed Professional Fellows Programs since 2011. During that time, the center has brought more than 200 young Southeast Asian leaders to Montana to collaborate with professionals from Missoula to Whitehall. Many of these Montana leaders traveled in exchange to Southeast Asia to build on the partnership and develop their expertise in cross-cultural communication and global engagement.

“In a state whose population regards international engagement as a unique and necessary activity, UM is known as a leader in supporting Montanans to better compete in a global economy,” said Deena Mansour, the center’s executive director. “The Mansfield Center is honored to continue hosting the YSEALI Professional Fellows Program to support Montanans in fostering global mutual understanding, enhancing leadership skills and building lasting partnerships.”

Launched in 2013, the YSEALI is the U.S. government’s signature program to strengthen leadership and networking in Southeast Asia, preparing young leaders in the region to solve regional and global challenges through cross-border collaboration. The program represents a critical investment by the U.S. to strengthen its strategic partnerships with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members, as well as the nation of Timor-Leste, in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Created by an Act of Congress in 1983, the Mansfield Center fosters globally minded leaders of integrity through a dual mission dedicated to supporting ethical public policy and leadership, as well as mutual understanding between the U.S. and Asia. The center serves as an essential component of Montana’s economic and civic life by fostering dialogue on issues facing the U.S., Asia and the world.

For more information, email Kelsey Stamm Jimenez at


Contact: Deena Mansour, executive director, UM Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, 406-243-2713,