Niruban Balachandran

Portrait of Niruban Balachandran
Director, Professional Development Program
BalachaN [at]
Area of Expertise: 

Peace and national security, economic diplomacy, democracy, Southeast Asia, China

Niruban Balachandran is the Director of the Professional Development Program where he heads a team delivering all of the East-West Center’s short to medium-term capacity building, leadership training, professional exchanges, career development, and high-level dialogue activities. He is an American of Sri Lankan descent who serves as a highly sought-after strategist and advisor on peace, national security, and economic diplomacy in Southeast Asia and China. His career has spanned more than two decades in foreign policy, international aid, strategy, and education in the United States, Southeast Asia, and China.

Prior to joining the East-West Center, Niruban led the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation's global environmental grantmaking portfolio in Flint, Michigan. Previously, he served in the World Bank in Indonesia for 7 years, leading programs in rural village development, governance, and environmental protection.

Niruban is a recognized change-maker in the global peacebuilding movement, with affiliations at the U.S. Institute of Peace, the Center for Peace Communications, the Varieties of Peace Network, and Harvard Divinity School's Religions & the Practice of Peace Alumni Leadership Network. He is also a member of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, and Asian-American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy.

Niruban has been widely published in scholarly research journals and other academic publications-- including the East-West Center's Asia-Pacific Bulletin. He has been awarded the World Bank’s Innovation Challenge Prize, the Bradley M. Bloom Impact Award for improving Jewish-Muslim relations, and the International Society for Human Ethology’s Linda Mealey Award for social sciences research.

Niruban speaks a number of languages, including Mandarin Chinese and Bahasa Indonesia. He earned a BA Honors in psychology degree from Rutgers, and a Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In 2019, Niruban was honored by the New America Foundation as an Asian-American/Pacific Islander National Security Next Generation Leader.