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YSEALI Fellows

The program with funding from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) offers an opportunity for young professionals from Southeast Asia to learn about sustainable development and the environment through a six-week fellowship. The Sustainable Development and the Environment theme provides the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Professional Fellows with an opportunity to explore public and private sector approaches to environmental challenges. It also supports professionals involved in food and water security; public health; ecotourism, the innovative development and management of agricultural, energy, housing and/or transportation resources; natural disaster response; natural resource conservation and restoration; and waste management, with an emphasis on grassroots activism; government policy and regulation; and market-oriented initiatives.

Click below to learn more about the YSEALI Program:

About the Program

Fellows are part of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), a program that enables young leaders from ASEAN countries and Timor-Leste to work directly with counterparts in local government offices across the United States to enhance their practical expertise, leadership skills, and professional contacts to address challenges and create new opportunities in their home communities.

Fellows come from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. The goal of the program is to create institutionalized long-term partnerships that support these emerging leaders and their institutions in the ASEAN countries and Timor-Leste and the U.S. to inspire change in creating responsive, open, and accountable governance.

Participating host communities have an opportunity to apply for a two-week reciprocal exchange at the end of the program. Selected participants then travel overseas to spend approximately two weeks with their ASEAN and Timor-Leste counterparts on projects of mutual importance.

ICMA works with the following international affiliates and other partners to implement the program:

Program Details

ICMA in partnership with American Councils for International Education and the US State Department's YSEALI program look for qualified professionals in sustainable development and the environment for the Professional Fellows Program.

Candidates must be 25-35 years old, fluent in English, currently employed and working in the environmental field and from an ASEAN country or Timor-Leste.

Selected participants will travel to the US for six weeks during their fellowship period. Selected Fellows will be hosted by an organization for four weeks. ICMA will match selected Fellows with a host organization based on their professional background, technical expertise and community challenge.

Fellows will identify a community challenge and find a way to address it after the program. Fellows will work with their American host during the program to find innovative ways to solve that challenge. Please note: this program does not offer financial support for follow-on projects, but funding is sometimes available through U.S. embassies or through separate U.S. Department of State grants.

Past Programs

Since 2010, ICMA has received awards to manage the Professional Fellows Program funded by the U.S. State Department, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The overall goal of the program is to create a global network of emerging local government leaders to positively impact practices at their organizations and in their communities by enriching their leadership skills and cultural understanding and by providing opportunities for knowledge exchange and ongoing collaboration. Following are past programs:

Legislative Process and Governance Professional Fellows Program/Indonesia, Timor-Leste

Legislative Process and Governance Professional Fellows Program/China, New Zealand, Thailand

Sustainable Communities Professional Fellows Program

Host Application Information

ICMA matches Fellows with U.S. host communities that provide educational and cultural experiences for the Fellows during a four-week period. In return, hosts may apply for reciprocal visits in the Fellow's country. Past hosts have found the experience highly rewarding. Here's an example:

“The opportunity to work with the nation of Indonesia has been a chance for my organization to broaden their perspectives of municipal government responsibilities and focused it on our best practices. As City Manager, I personally have seen a new appreciation by my staff for the challenges of municipal government beyond our borders. I believe the continued opportunity to work with Indonesian counterparts allows me to grow professionally and obtain new ideas for use in my American city.” – Mark Watson, City Manager, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

To express interest in hosting, please complete this form.

Apply Now

ICMA invites young professionals from ASEAN countries to apply for the Professional Fellows Program.

Apply Now

See Frequently Asked Questions about the YSEALI program.



Both U.S. and international fellows are invited to share their experiences on the YSEALI Fellows blog.


Past program participant Noor Shahiwan Bin Ismail put his experience from the YSEALI Professional Fellows Program to work in an aboriginal village in Malaysia with Mark Bortman, an outbound U.S. Fellow. Together, they visited houses to examine solar energy systems and to complete some maintenance and installations.

YSEALI-ICMA Professional Fellowship ( Legislative Process & Governance ) Fall 2017 Team Video Project


ICMA Content

International Fellows Return Home to Successful Careers: ICMA staff catch up with three former Fellows from Malaysia.

Host a Fellow: 3 Ways Next Gen Leaders from Southeast Asia Will Strengthen Your Community: Hosting an international fellow is a great professional development experience for team members who want to explore how cities solve problems outside of the United States.

Professional Fellows Exchange Program: Frequently Asked Questions: Answers to questions asked by international applicants to the Environmental Sustainability Professional Fellowship program.

Emerging Leaders Development Program: Build knowledge, skills, and abilities in the basic management and technical topics that managers need to know to be successful.


This program is managed through the support of a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is administered by ICMA.