With over 200 talented staff working for the foundation globally, we pride ourselves for being able to bring on board people who love to learn, explore, and share their knowledge, skills, and experiences both inside and outside the foundation. In the Southeast and East Asia Region, we’ve got a pool of highly experienced directors and managers leading our programs and initiatives in nine countries. Our country and regional teams bring with them diverse backgrounds ranging from academic and private sector fields to the non-profit and policy-related fields.
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Meet Our Leadership Team:
Born in Essen, Germany, Moritz studied Business Administration in the US and Journalism in Germany. He began his career as a journalist at Deutsche Welle (DW) in 1998. In 2000, Moritz moved to Indonesia to be the Southeast Asia Correspondent for German Newspapers Frankfurter Rundschau, Tagesspiegel and Stuttgarter Zeitung. He joined the foundation in 2009 as Project Director Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia, based in Bangkok. From 2012 to 2013, Moritz was Head of the Asia Department and Head of the Human Rights Department at our Head Office in Potsdam before taking up his current position in Jakarta in 2013.
Dr. Almut Besold
Dr. Besold studied Arabic Studies, Political Sciences and Religious Studies with a focus on the Arab world and Islam at the University of Leipzig, Germany. From 2000 to 2003 she did her Ph.D. on the international sanctions against Libya. From 2004 to 2013 she was working as a lecturer at the Oriental Institute of the University of Leipzig. In 2007/ 08 she worked for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). She headed FNF´s Country Office in Pakistan for four years from 2014-2018 before moving to Southeast Asia region as Head of FNF Indonesia and Malaysia Office in August 2018.
Katrin Bannach works with a wide variety of stakeholders from civil society, parliaments, government and independent organizations as part of our work in Myanmar and Thailand. Prior to her current appointment, she worked at the foundation’s Regional Office in India for 5 years, where she managed the foundation’s India-Pakistan dialogue and Human Rights projects. She holds an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Hamburg, Germany. Additionally, she studied International Law and Psychology in Hamburg as well as in Stellenbosh, South Africa.
Wolfgang Heinze has his academic training in Philosophy, Political Science, Economics and Computer Science. He holds a Master of Philosophy from Passau, Germany. He joined the Foundation in 2006 and worked for our projects in Myanmar and Malaysia from Bangkok, Thailand until 2012. He was then appointed Desk Officer for Southeast and East Asia at our Head Office in Potsdam, Germany where he helped coordinate cross-collaborative projects and programs for four years. As of June 2016, he is serving as the Country Director in the Philippines.
Dr. Christian Taaks
Christian Taaks, born in 1961, studied sinology, communication science/journalism and Theater Arts in Tübingen, Hamburg, Taipei and Berlin. He received his PhD at Free University Berlin on a historical topic. Since the late 1980s, he worked in the field of development cooperation for several German institutions. In 2004, he joined FNF, where he held since then several posts, amongst others, Director of Scholarship Programmes, Head of European and Transatlantic Dialogue Division and Head of Asia Division. Since September 2018, he is the Head of FNF Korea Office based in Seoul.
Armin’s interest and work focus on projects related to digital societies and freedom, as well as startups and how they push innovation and progress today’s economies and societies. He also coordinates the foundations analytical work in the region, promoting exchange among partners of our global network both inside and outside the foundation. Armin holds a Master of Arts in Contemporary East Asian Studies from Duisburg-Essen University, Germany, and a Master of Public Policy from Peking University, China.
Mr. Stanitzki was born in 1970 near Aachen. He joined the German Army in 1989 and studied Economics and Management at the University of the Federal Army in Munich. Even in the Army he positioned as Press and Information Officer responsible for the dialog with people in defence and security policy issues. After 2002 he started in Federal Parliament as Personal Assistant of Mr. Jörg van Essen, Chief Whip by Liberal Parliarmentary Group. In 2007 as first employee of the Liberal Parliamentary Group abroad he became the Head of the Liaision Office in Brussels. In his last position from 2014 - 2017 he was responsible for the development of Public-Affairs business at Germany's 2nd largest PR-Agency, fisherAppelt.
Felix joined the foundation in 2001, with his initial appointment at our Southeast and Eastern Europe Regional Office where he headed the region’s finance and accounting department for 13 years, overseeing and coordinating 20 countries in the region. In 2013 he moved to Bangkok and is currently heading the foundation’s finance and accounting department in Southeast and East Asia. Felix’s academic training is in Business Administration from Landshut Business University, Germany. Prior to joining the foundation he worked in the corporate sector for BASF in Hungary as their Chief Financial Officer from 1995 – 1999.
Nok joined the foundation in 2003, initially serving as our Regional Assistant from 2003 – 2008 and now serving a dual role as Regional Assistant and Front Desk Officer. She obtained her Bachelors in Communications Arts from Bangkok University. Prior to joining the foundation, she worked briefly with General Electric Capital Thailand.
Pett joined the foundation in 2010 and manages two of our regional projects that focus on building economic freedom and strengthening human rights dialogues and progress in Southeast and East Asia. He obtained his Bachelors in Political Science, majoring in International Relations (first class honors), from Chulalongkorn University in 2008. After graduation, he worked as a personal assistant to Dr Surin Pitsuwan, the then Secretary-General of ASEAN. Following this, he was granted an Endeavour Postgraduate Award from the Australian Government and the Hedley Bull Scholarship from the Australian National University, where he graduated with a Masters of Arts in International Relations as well as a Master of Diplomacy, both with honors.
Wimonpug joined the foundation in 2003. She first joined our then FNF-EU project on Empowering Indian Women in Malaysia. She was then appointed to our regional team in Bangkok in 2005. Wimonpug graduated with her Bachelor and Master of Arts from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.
Miklos manages and coordinates the region’s projects both regionally and with our Head Office in Germany. Born and raised in Austria and Hungary, he obtained his academic training in Law at Innsbruck University, Austria, before relocating to this region. As a student he had the opportunity to take on various internships with the Austrian Embassy and the European Union Delegation based in Bangkok. This also led him to interning with the foundation before officially joining in 2012.
Kewalin joined the foundation in 2014, supporting the regional director in an administrative role as well as acting as a liason between our Head Office in Germany and our Regional Office here in Bangkok. Prior to joining the foundation, she worked at the German Embassy as a visa officer for 3 years Her work experience also includes working in the corporate sector with Knauf Gypsum (Thailand) Ltd. as assistant to the company’s Project Manager and Plant Manager.
Surasak joined the foundation in 1999, working as part of our finance team. He currently manages and coordinates our accounting and finance for some of our regional projects. His financial experience and background also include previously working with Konrad Adenauer Foundation for 5 years. Prior to joining the foundation he also worked with Thailand’s Boonrawd Brewery as personal assistant to the CEO. He obtained his degree in German from Chulalongkorn University in 1990.
Chalitsuda obtained her Bachelors from Chiang Mai University majoring in German. She joined the foundation in 2005 as an auditor and monitors and manages our donor compliance financial rules and regulations, ensuring that our operations are within the framework provided by the German Government.
Penluk joined the foundation in 2011 as an accountant for our Myanmar project. Prior to joining the foundation, she worked at the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC), National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) as an International Cooperation Officer. Her work also includes appointments at the Sri Lankan Embassy and Regional Community Forestry Training Center for Asia and the Pacific (RECOFTC). She obtained a degree in Humanities from Ramkhamhaeng University and a Master’s Degree from the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA).
Minnie Salao previously worked as the Project Manager of FNF Philippines where she was in charge of program development, including capacity building workshops for politicians, young leaders, and civil society partners. She also handled the communication work of the Foundation, writing articles for online and printed publications. Minnie has an MBA degree from Ateneo Graduate School of Business, Makati City, Philippines, and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of the Philippines.