Featured Alumni


Follow our "Featured Alumni" series on Facebook @EWCAlumni or by joining our LinkedIn East-West Center Alumni and Community group.


Mahwish GulMahwish Gul (Asia Pacific Leadership Program, 2015-2016; Innovation Fellow, 2020-2021)

Mahwish Gul is a development professional with over 10 years of progressive experience in program management, particularly in the fields of strategic communication and knowledge creation. She is passionate about gender, youth development and reproductive health fields. She has extensive knowledge of both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies and in basic and applied research. Mahwish holds master degrees in Anthropology and Development Management from Ruhr University, Germany and contributes to a bimonthly German magazine and monthly e-paper D+C Development and Cooperation that discusses international development affairs and explores how they relate to fields of policy-making.

She says about her experience at the East-West Center, "My diverse and multicultural experience at the East-West Center opened up a wide range of opinions and made me truly realize the importance of discussion and the value of reasoning. The friendships and connections made during my time at EWC have been the strongest and everlasting. The learning experience at EWC is not just through formal teaching but also being in a group of people from all over the world who bring their own insights and rich knowledge. It is those classroom discussions, group works, working together on joint assignments, and hands on approach to learning which simply makes the whole experience at EWC the most memorable.

"Through the EWC Innovation for Sustainable Development Initiative, I learned the value of co-designing and co-delivering innovative programs. During COVID-19, the fellows connected virtually and together conceptualized, developed, monitored, and assessed the progress of each other's programs on a range of subjects. Not only did we design innovative programs together, but the innovative approach allowed us to immerse ourselves in each others' subject matters and draw insights from diverse experiences."



Amalina AriffinAmalina Ariffin (Young Southeast Asian Leadership Institute (YSEALI) '15)

A warm "Welcome back" to Amalina Ariffin, who recently returned to the Center as the newly-hired Experiential Programs Specialist in the Professional Development Program. Prior to returning to the EWC, she worked as the YSEALI Coordinator at the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur where she was responsible for sending Malaysian representatives for US Exchanges and organized multiple regional workshops on empowering educators, good governance, digital connectivity and created a YSEALI Boot Camp catering specifically to Malaysian youth on social issues affecting their communities.

Amalina first came to the Center as a participant in the YSEALI Academic Fellowship in 2015 where she was exposed to many new concepts. She says this forced her to unlearn, relearn and reflect on her values and priorities in life. This moment pivoted her from her course of life, leading her to become the YSEALI coordinator and return to the Center in 2019 as one of the 22 emerging leaders for the Obama Foundation Asia-Pacific Design Workshop.

She is most grateful for the lifelong friendships she developed during her EWC fellowship. It led her to meet Jeff from Singapore and Ines from Indonesia, and they became co-founders of the Chili Padi Academy, an environmental accelerator program for high school students across Southeast Asia which is still running today. Amalina still applies a lot of wisdom that she learned from her fellowship and shares with others. Her favorite quotes from her mentors are “fail fast” and “look at the view from the balcony”.



Eleanor MainekeEleanor Maineke (Pacific Islands Leadership Program (PIDP) '16)

From the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) in Papua New Guinea, Eleanor is currently the Grants Officer at Abt Associate’s Bougainville Partnership in the Buka Office. She is committed to the betterment of her community and is constantly initiating positive, lasting projects. One such initiative is documenting traditional ways of mediating and reconciling conflicts in Bougainville’s Siwai, Buin & Kieta Cultures. For this, she and her team were recently awarded the Young Pacific Leaders Small Grant by the U.S. Department of State.

Eleanor shares the following about her EWC experience and lasting impacts:
I was happy to be given the opportunity to be part of EWC under PILP’s 4th Cohort in 2016. The experience enriched and exposed me to different cultures and practices in the Pacific and Taiwan. During my time at EWC I most valued learning about adaptive leadership. It made me realize the importance of making it safe to disagree and debate but not to disengage and opt out. This process involves learning, unlearning, and relearning in our professional and individual lives. Being a member of EWC reminds me that our world can be so large and ourselves so small, but our impact can be great wherever we are.



Tippi CogenTippi Cogen Tippi (Changing Faces Women’s Leadership Program, ’19)
Healing and Spiritual Growth Life Coach, and former Executive Director + Founder, Thrive Global of Hawaii

With a previous military career that spanned 20 years serving in both the U.S. Army & Air Force, Tippi, a now-retired, former Army Airborne Chaplain, chooses to focus her energy on healing and helping marginalized communities break generational poverty, through her first initiative called Thrive Global of Hawaii. A humanitarian travel non-profit, started in late 2015, that organizes volunteers to serve locally and abroad on sustainability projects in efforts that support clean water, eco-school builds, food shortages, environmental & community revitalization, mentorship, and more, and has partnered with major organizations like PACT Hawaii, Bikeshare Hawaii (Biki,) Target, Yelp, and Starbuck for success.

Due to the pandemic halting much of travel last year, Tippi took no time off in planning the organization's next pivot. Having studied Business Entrepreneurship at Hawaii Pacific University (also a Kaimuki Bulldog!!) and a Master's in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, Tippi intuitively knew it was time to decrease her bandwidth by ending Thrive's five-year humanitarian world tour to fully develop her Healing + Spiritual Growth Life Coaching brand which similarly to Thrive adopts the vision of ending generational poverty, but not just in a financial way.

With her one-on-one life coaching sessions and private retreats that focus on personal healing, spiritual growth, and value reprioritization, Tippi wanted to design a more evolved version of humanitarian support through self-healing and authentic community after isolation for her clients & former Traveltarians®. Her focus now provides guidance and education on self-healing for deep spiritual and personal growth, the catalyst and starting point for real community change and cycle breaking.

Tippi's passion for helping others, serving underrepresented populations, and desire to understanding the complex biopsychosocial nuances of poverty and oppression, has led her to begin a doctorate in Clinical Psychology in hopes of becoming a private-practice clinician, educator in the field of body trauma healing, and continue to heal, serve and travel the world.

Most valued learning from time at EWC: A lesson within a lesson—ride the wave or be swept out to sea. Super funny, yet applicable. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tiptheworld/



Dewardric L. McNeal

Dewardric L. McNeal (Asia Pacific Leadership Program '02)

Dewardric is a US-China policy expert formerly at the #Pentagon as an #Obama-appointee and the The Brookings Institution. As the Founder and Managing Director at Longview Global LLC, he is frequently tapped for public commentary, most recently on how #PresidentBiden could approach China trade and security policy on CNBC Squawk Box. Tune in to “The Point and the Pushback”, his new podcast where he interviewed EWC classmate Charles Babb (APLP '02) and has a two-episode #BlackHistoryMonth political arc.  Dewardric co-lead a training on Power & Influence at the East-West Center #2021PILPAlumniSummit in February 2021.