Hawai‘i Asia-Pacific Affairs Leadership Program 2022-2023 Cohort

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Alex Coulston is currently completing his MA degree in second language studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, specializing in language and social interaction. He is a former Graduate Degree Fellow with the East-West Center and currently interning with EWC’s Education Program. Alex comes with a background in international education, and before moving to Hawaiʻi, he was a Program Director with Princeton in Asia. He has also lived and worked in Singapore and China. Alex received his BA in international studies from Emory University with a concentration in political economy and the Middle East region. Through the APAL program, Alex hopes to better connect how foreign policy and security issues impact internationalization efforts within institutions of higher learning, especially in Hawaiʻi.

Sharoon Kashif is an Air Force intelligence officer and serves as a South Asia subject matter expert for the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. Sharoon has a BS from Florida Tech and an MBA from California State University, Los Angeles. He is currently enrolled in a China studies program at the National Intelligence University. He is a Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies alumni and a 2022 delegate at the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations Asia Conference. Sharoon studied in Pakistan and India and is fluent in Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi. His research focus is on environmental security, maritime domain awareness, and economic recovery post COVID-19. Sharoon strives to bring equitable change through policy recommendations and promote community wellbeing in Hawaiʻi.

Courtney Lai is a Paralegal/Legal Assistant at Tsugawa Lau & Muzzi LLLC. She previously taught English at Hibiki Senior High School in Fukuoka, Japan. Courtney received her BA in international studies with a minor in Japanese from Willamette University. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, Courtney studied at Tokyo International University in Saitama Prefecture. Her research interests include indigenous language and cultural revitalization, food security, and protection of natural resources. Through the APAL Program, Courtney is eager to bridge connections between global and local issues.

Allison Lee is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Asian international affairs at the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa. She is from California and received her bachelor’s degree from Pepperdine University in journalism and international studies (MENA) with a minor in nonprofit management. She moved on island through Teach for America, where she taught algebra, graphic design, podcasting, coding, video, and yearbook at Waipahu High School for the past two years. She has served at nonprofits such as Hawaiʻi Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations, Bumblebee Foundation, and Sojourners. Allison now works for Gear Up, Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, on the Waipahu campus.

Brandt Kekoa Mabuni is a graduate student in Asian international affairs at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. His research interests center on the flows of capital, energy, and infrastructure investment between the US, China, and ASEAN. As a Hawaiʻi local and energy security advocate, he hopes to play a part in the rising role that archipelagic nations and states will play in upholding a secure and prosperous Pacific.


Robert Parke is an assistant in the Office of the Governor’s Executive Administrative Services and a master’s student in communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Born and raised on Oʻahu, his research interests of climate change and disaster resilience, resource and economic development, peace and security, inequalities in technological developments, and ocean and natural environment management are uniquely intertwined here in the center of the Pacific. Robert holds a bachelor of arts in critical race and ethnic studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz where he also engaged in student politics. He is a student affiliate at the East-West Center and serves as the Alumni and Friends Representative on the 22’-23’ EWCPA board.

Johnson Pham, who was born and raised in Honolulu, is currently a Staff Assistant for a congressional office and an intern for the Regional Security Studies Program at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Strategic Studies. He is a First-Generation graduate, having recently earned his BA in international studies at American University’s School of International Service, with a specific focus on U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security. His research interests include U.S.-Sino Great Power Competition; the rise of authoritarianism and right-wing populism in Asia; China’s Debt Diplomacy and the BRI; and U.S. Foreign Policy with Pacific Island nations. Johnson looks forward to not only engaging in dialogue regarding U.S. foreign policy in the Indo-Pacific theater but also discussing Hawaiʻi’s geostrategic and cultural role in the region.

Tess Schwalger is a second-year graduate student of history at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She is the recipient of the Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship, focusing on the Samoan language. Her areas of research are centered around colonialism in Samoa as well as its modern effects on identity, women’s rights, education, health, and geopolitical issues. She currently is employed as a teacher at Castle High School, working with freshmen US History. Prior to her time at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, she worked at the Polynesian Cultural Center as a cultural performer and trainer at HA: Breath of Life. Tess graduated Summa Cum Laude from Brigham Young University at Hawaiʻi with a degree in history education.

Caleb F. Workman is an officer in the U.S. Army. He graduated from the Colorado School of Mines, where he earned a BS in economics, an MS in engineering and technology management, and minors in global politics and military science. Previously, he interned with the Payne Institute for Public Policy, where he focused on environment and natural resource policy. Through the APAL Program, Caleb seeks to expand his knowledge of the Indo-Pacific region with new perspectives that are offered solely through the Pacific Forum’s work.