TEDxJISSalon: Women in Leadership

The Salon will be held on October 7, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This event promises to be a series of lively discussions about the experiences of the participants in leadership positions. Discussions will focus on girls in student council, the complex topic of intersectionality, and the “unexpected heroes” who demonstrate the crucial roles of women in crisis response.

Information about the speakers

bush_robin_510.jpgRobin Bush

Robin Bush is the Director of Research and Strategic Collaborations, Asia, for RTI International, based in Jakarta. She is responsible for contributing to RTI’s Asia Strategy and connecting RTI’s research base to international development programming. Previously she was a Senior Research Fellow at the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore (NUS), contributing to the cluster’s Religion and Development in Asia research program. Prior to joining ARI in December of 2011, she served as Country Representative, and prior to that Deputy Country Representative, for The Asia Foundation in Indonesia, where she developed and led a wide range of governance related programming, including projects on rule of law, economic growth, human rights, and electoral reform. Her responsibilities included donor relations, program development, fundraising, and strategic leadership of the Foundation’s work in Indonesia. Prior to her management role with the Foundation, she was Director of Islam and Development programs for the Asia Foundation in Indonesia for six years, designing and running poverty alleviation, human rights, and democracy related programs in partnership with Muslim NGOs in Indonesia. She holds a PhD in political science from the University of Washington.

Picture1Step Vaessen

Step Vaessen is a senior correspondent based in Jakarta for the past 20 years. From 1997 until 2006 she reported for Dutch media from Indonesia and most of  Asia. Since 2006 she has been the Indonesia correspondent for Aljazeera English regularly traveling the region. Step has made thousands of news reports covering the fall of Soeharto,  the independence struggle in East Timor, the aftermath of the Indian ocean tsunami, for which her broadcaster received a Dutch Academy Award, religious, political and ethnic violence around the region and numerous natural disasters including a devastating earthquake in Pakistan in 2005.

Step has also made documentaries on the 1965 massacre in Indonesia, the bloody retreat from East Timor, and the rise of current president Joko Widodo. For Talk to Aljazeera she has made a range of indepth interviews with political leaders including former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaya Purnama (Ahok) and president Joko Widodo. Step has also done two previous TEDTalks on the impact of social media and on cultural diversity and tolerance. In 2012 she held the prominent Willem Arrondeus lecture in Haarlem titled The Herd Does Not Know Any Heroes. In 2011 she was one of the ‘Zomergasten’ (Summerguests) for VPRO television, a live interview program about her. She has also published a book called Jihad with Sambal (In Dutch) about her life and work in Indonesia.

Name of talk: Unexpected Heroes

Short blurb: Ms. Bush and Ms. Vaessen will share stories of a few women ‘heroes’ they have encountered in their careers in journalism and development in Indonesia. The stories of these ‘heroes’ demonstrate the crucial roles of women in religion, in crisis response, and even in Ms. Bush and Ms. Vaessen’s personal lives. While these women may not consider themselves heroes, we hope this talk will show you that they are.

C17P4865Vivian Ng

“Dreams and Dedication are a powerful combination.” From sports to theatre and everything in between, Vivian Ng has aimed to experience everything Jakarta Intercultural School has to offer her. Her interests are strained between extremities, from student council to cross country to empowering women, but her passion and devotion for all her interests has helped her grow into the leader she is today. As a senior in high school and President of the Central Student Council, Vivian strives to make her mark at JIS by leading the high school with confidence, compassion, and innovation.

Name of talk: The Missing Leaders–Leading as a Teenage Girl

Short blurb: Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS) strives to graduate progressive and critical-minded students. Yet, even with these progressive mindsets, does gender inequality exist in the school? After all, where are the female student council leaders?

ErinMcKee-Photo165x210.jpgErin McKee

Erin Elizabeth McKee is the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director to Indonesia. Ms. McKee is a member of the Senior Foreign Service and has served as the Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Policy, Planning, and Learning. Prior that, Ms. McKee was the USAID Regional Mission Director for Central Asia where she was responsible for direct management of all of USAID’s programs in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and for support to the Kyrgyzstan representative office. In addition, Ms. McKee spent ten years working in Iraq, South America (covering Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, and Brazil), West Bank-Gaza and Russia. Ms. McKee has one daughter, Caitlin, a JIS 10th grade student.

unnamed (1).jpgMeilyn Tan

Meilyn Tan (JIS Class of 1995) is a seasoned Communications specialist who works with executives and business leaders to cultivate a strong global brand, balance sheet, and workforce through effective communication and changing management strategies. Meilyn is a dynamic, experienced and dexterous communicator in multiple languages, specializing in Public Relations and Crisis Management. As a proud mother of two young children, Meilyn understands the blessings and challenges of balancing family and career; she is passionate about being a positive role model for her children and within her professional community. Meilyn is currently representing Asia on committees for Gender Equity and Cultural Diversity and Inclusion, focusing on the development of socially inclusive policies and programs.

Name of talk: Balancing Act – Breaking the Glass Ceilings

Short blurb: Having it all (a leadership and executive role, a family, health and happiness) is indeed possible, but managing it all remains a challenge for professional women. In this discussion, Mrs. McKee and Ms. Meilyn will share some insights, examples, and opportunities for women (and men) to learn how far we have come and how far we still need to go.

Akhiemokhali head shot.jpgKelley Akhiemokhali

As the daughter of a US citizen and a Nigerian immigrant, intersections and the spaces in between have always intrigued and inspired Kelley Akhiemokhali. When a professor exposed her to intersectionality, a topic she and Ramona Carter will be discussing during the TEDx conference, it both transformed and underlined her way of analyzing the world. Her participation in a women’s leadership program as an undergraduate also shaped her way of thinking. Before joining the JIS community as a middle school English teacher, Kelley taught in Valencia, Venezuela and New York City.

Carter-sm.jpgRamona Carter

Ramona Carter is currently a Middle School Dance Teacher and co-sponsor of the Equality Effect Club at Jakarta Intercultural School. She interned for Northern Arizona’s Institute for Human Development while earning her Master’s in Special Education. While there, she worked with Navajo children with disabilities and their mothers. This experience, working with girls in Lahore, Pakistan, and mothers in Mozambique led her to see the importance of connecting impoverished women with resources.

Name of talk: At the Crossroads – Intersectionality

Short blurb: Ms. Akhiemokhali and Ms. Carter will be discussing about Intersectionality, which is the way in which race, class, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc. overlap to create opportunities or disadvantages.

Amy Smith Headshot.jpgAmy Smith

Amy Smith is a mathematics educator, photographer, athlete and citizen of the world. Born and raised in the US, she has since lived and taught at international schools in Maracaibo, Venezuela, Shanghai, China and now Jakarta, Indonesia. In addition to being a high school math teacher at JIS, Amy Smith is also a photographer, particularly interested in enlightening the world about challenges and celebrations faced in different communities.

Name of talk: How Leadership Inspires

Short blurb: There are many preconceived ideas of what makes a leader – what they look like, what they do, where they come from, what their purpose is. What happens when we challenge those stereotypes? Also, what happens when we consider the impact of leadership roles not only on the individual, but also on the communities that person is a part of? Join in as Ms Smith discuss the implications of women in leadership within a particular community of women, buruh gendongan, working in Yogyakarta’s Beringharjo Market.

This article was originally written by Claudia Mak and has been edited by Lane Graciano.


  1. I just wanted to thank everyone again who was involved in organizing, running, and presenting at this spectacular TEDx Salon. It was easily one of the most fascinating and enjoyable events I’ve attended in my time at JIS. I walked away having reinforced many of my key beliefs, challenging others, and most importantly, having learned a great deal about the roles of women in leadership. Congratulations on a job well done!


    1. Thanks so much, Adam! The swift positive response we got when we were promoting the event was so gratifying. Then, at the event, attendees like you participated so actively that it made the Salon a rewarding event for everyone. Stay tuned for more opportunities to share ideas.


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