by Mianmian Fei
At the start of 2019, APC welcomed Kathleen Chew, Group Legal Counsel of YTL Corporation Berhad and one of APC’s first members, to its board. Kathleen’s pursuit of philanthropy is driven by her Christian faith and she has actively pursued her passion for philanthropy with a focus on education. She is the Programme Director of her family foundation, the YTL Foundation, which aims to use education to empower individuals and communities to be catalysts of change. Through its flagship programmes, the Frog classroom and 54C YTL Learning Space programmes, and by championing the use of technology, YTL Foundation strives to redefine the teaching and learning processes with an ultimate goal of building better societies through better education.
Kathleen attributes her commitment to philanthropy to her alma mater the Assunta Secondary School in Malaysia, a mission school founded by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. With the motto “To Truth Through Charity”, the school planted the seeds of philanthropy in Kathleen at an early age. “[The school motto] never really left me”, says Kathleen, who now serves as Deputy Chairman of the school’s Board of Governors.
Outside of her role at YTL, Kathleen chairs Hospis Malaysia and serves as a trustee of the Spark Foundation, the Dignity for Children Foundation and Montfort Boys Town. She is also Chairperson of Alpha Malaysia, a non-denominational Christian organisation. Kathleen has had a hand in developing some unique social enterprises – she is the founder of Mad Squared and Mangosteen Organics. The former is a media services agency serving the non-profit sector and the latter is a socially-conscious luxury bath and body brand. With a goal to improve the quality of life of women and children in Southeast Asia, Mangosteen Organics commits 100% of its profits to help sustain organisations that empower and support women and children in need.
Kathleen joined APC in 2015 recognising the need for philanthropists to collectively address social issues at the systems level and therefore identifying with APC’s mission to grow collaborative philanthropy. With a vast array of models and approaches to philanthropy that have emerged over the past few years, she is also keen to learn from other philanthropists. “I joined out of the desire to be something bigger than what I was doing myself, since philanthropy is no longer something I felt could just do alone” Kathleen said, “APC convenes philanthropists so that we can learn from each other, which is very important to me at this point of my philanthropic journey”.
Through APC, Kathleen has grown her work in the education sector in Malaysia. Her focus is on training school principals and leaders, as her extensive experience has shown that direct educational intervention cannot materialise without addressing gaps and challenges at the leadership level. With the help of APC to scope and research best practices and models for school leadership, Kathleen has launched the Global School Leadership programme in Malaysia, a programme of the India School Leadership Institute (ISLI), an international platform for school leadership development programmes that are delivered locally. Co-funded by two other APC members, GSL launched with a pilot in Malaysia to train school principals in 24 schools in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. It is now being adopted and replicated by APC members in Indonesia. Later this year, she will be launching the Acumen fellowship programme in Malaysia, a one-year leadership development programme designed to connect and cultivate a pipeline of social changemakers who are committed to tackling poverty and social issues in their communities.
APC is delighted to welcome Kathleen to its board. Her enthusiasm, expertise and commitment to philanthropy will be instrumental to our growth and development.