OU Professor and U.S. State Department Exchange Program participants meet with President Obama

Professor Elanie Steyn (middle) with the five Burmese delegates at the White House event with YSEALI.

Elanie Steyn, associate professor in the Gaylord College at the University of Oklahoma, and a delegation of five business leaders from Myanmar in the U.S. under a State Department grant administered by the University of Oklahoma, joined 70 other emerging leaders from Southeast Asia to meet today with President Barack Obama during the President’s Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative event at the White House.

YSEALI is the President’s signature initiative to strengthen leadership development across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), deepen engagement with young leaders on key regional and global challenges, and strengthen people-to-people ties between the United States and Southeast Asia, said the White House press release. ASEAN is comprised of Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar.

“One of the most powerful statements that President Obama made during the event was that the success of a country can be “measured by how it empowers its women and girls,”” said Steyn. “This is why the grant programs we do at Gaylord College are so important. The majority of our participants are women and through our programs we have seen them grow as leaders, which in turn promotes democracy in their countries.”

The White House event corresponded with the end of the delegation’s month-long visit to Oklahoma where they had professional placements with Oklahoma business leaders and entrepreneurs from technology and marketing companies, as well as the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture.

Steyn along with Gaylord College Dean Joe Foote and Jeff Moore, director of OU’s Center for the Creation of Economic Wealth, are co-investigators for an U.S. State Department exchange program between the University of Oklahoma and Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar. She serves as the area head for journalism in the Gaylord College and is an experienced international trainer/educator with a specialization in media leadership and management with a particular emphasis on women’s leadership.

OU’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication has become a major contributor to the University of Oklahoma’s international emphasis. It has developed an impressive international focus, becoming one of the State Department’s International Press Centers; serving as one of the founding hosts for the Edward R. Murrow Fellows program; providing training and study programs on four continents; administering eight State Department grants in South Asia (Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka).

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