Advisory Board Members

Michael Bäk

Michael BäkMichael was appointed to Rapid Asia’s Advisory Board early 2015 as Advisor on Social Development issues. He is a Bangkok-based social development and inclusion expert and political economist with more than 17 years of experience in Asia, including 13 years with USAID, collaborating with change agents in government, civil society, and business. He currently serves as a Strategic Advisor for the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UN Country Team in Thailand.

After a short career in controversy management and risk communications, Michael joined USAID serving in numerous leadership and strategic roles including as Director of two USAID/Indonesia technical offices and senior Asia regional advisory roles on LGBT human rights, vulnerable populations including internal displacement and migration, governance and conflict mitigation/peace building.

In the early 2000s, Michael was responsible for developing psycho-social and care/support services to survivors of three brutal terrorist attacks in Bali and Jakarta. As the first US Government official in Aceh after the 2004 tsunami, he led USAID’s initial on-the-ground response and subsequently developed inclusive community-based humanitarian recovery projects. He worked for years addressing the negative impacts of violent conflict across Indonesia including designing and leading inclusive peace-building support to the Aceh Peace Process for which the USAID Administrator awarded him for his “humanitarian efforts in Indonesia and his commitment to human rights, demonstrated by his courageous efforts to bring peace to Aceh after 30 years of civil war.”

In 2007, Michael joined USAID’s regional platform in Bangkok to lead support to the MTV EXIT (End Exploitation and Trafficking) campaign, advancing USAID’s leadership in the innovative use of social media, celebrity, live concerts, and television for purposes of social impact. Other responsibilities included major achievements in democratic governance in Thailand, addressing critical Post-Nargis needs in Myanmar, and sensitive civic participation activities in China, Vietnam, and across ASEAN.

After leaving USAID he routinely consulted for the United Nations, foundations, bilateral development agencies and businesses working in areas of civil society capacity building, advocacy, sustainability, social inclusion and democratic governance. He is a Principal Shareholder and Director/Creative & Collaboration with London-based Strategic Asia Global and is on the Board of Directors of New York-based B-Change Insights. He has a BA from Kalamazoo College (Kalamazoo, USA), a Certificate from Nagoya Gakuin University (Nagoya, Japan), and a MA from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (Washington, DC, USA). He is fluent in English, French, Bahasa Indonesia, and Melayu, previously fluent in Japanese and varying abilities in Thai and Spanish.