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Guided by a mission to improve lives, expand opportunities, and help societies flourish across a dynamic and developing Asia, The Asia Foundation in 2014 marked its 60th anniversary with a year-long global conversation on critical issues facing the region today. Much has changed in Asia and the world since 1954, but the solid groundwork set by our founders has helped us to evolve as an international development organization and impact countless people across the region.

The original founding officers of the board included: T.S. Peterson, CEO of Standard Oil of California (now Chevron); Brayton Wilbur, president of Wilbur-Ellis Co.; J.D. Zellerbach, chairman of the Crown Zellerbach Corporation; university presidents including Grayson Kirk from Columbia, J.E. Wallace Sterling of Stanford, and Raymond Allen from UCLA; Pulitzer Prize-winning writer James Michener; Paul Hoffman, the first administrator of the Marshall Plan in Europe; and several major figures in foreign affairs.


In 1954, a group of forward-thinking citizens who shared a strong interest in Asia, distinguished personal achievements, and dedicated public service established The Asia Foundation— a private, non-governmental organization devoted to promoting democracy, rule of law, and market-based development in post-war Asia.

Graphic in plum, gray, and white reading "60 years, Explore our timeline"


To reflect the integral role we have played in over six decades of Asia’s development, we created an interactive timeline of never-before seen multimedia content. Designed as a living document – looking forward and back – the timeline tells a compelling story of international development in Asia from the 1950s to present day while weaving in our milestones and programs in the countries we work in.


Drawing on the expertise of our local partners and our own development experts in the 18 countries where we work, we are focusing international attention on six issues that form the core of the Foundation’s current program agenda.