Join us in our 65th Anniversary

James Kondo's Vision: Transformative Leadership Navigation for Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation

Apr 01, 2024
10 min read

Assuming his new role as a member of Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation's Board of Trustees, James Kondo brings a combination of seasoned expertise and forward-thinking perspective. He currently serves as the Chairperson of the International House of Japan—an independent foundation dedicated to promoting international cooperation for a free, open, and sustainable world—and is a Senior Advisor at OpenAI. Through an email exchange, Kondo shares insightful reflections and goals, providing a clear view into his motivations, vision, and strategic plans to drive impactful change throughout Asia and beyond through the Ramon Magsaysay Award.

RMAF: With the many demands of your career and other socio-civic engagements, what made you accept the invitation to be part of the RMAF Board of Trustees?

Kondo: Recognizing and honoring the greatness of spirit remains an enduring and noble pursuit. In a world where adversity and suffering persist, it is essential to acknowledge the remarkable resilience, compassion, and strength that individuals demonstrate in the face of challenges. This acknowledgment not only celebrates the innate goodness within people but also serves as a source of inspiration and hope for others. It highlights the capacity for kindness and selflessness that transcends borders and reminds us of the transformative power of the human spirit to overcome obstacles and foster positive change in the world.

RMAF: What do you most look forward to in your role as a new member of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation's Board of Trustees?

Kondo: I look forward to exploring and recognizing transformative leaders who are actively making a positive difference in the world is truly empowering. These laureates serve as beacons of inspiration, motivating us all to strive for greater impact and contribution in our own spheres of influence. Their stories of innovation, dedication, and impact not only inspire admiration but also ignite a sense of urgency within us to do more, to be more, and to contribute meaningfully to the betterment of society. In celebrating their achievements, we are reminded of the potential within each of us to effect change and leave a lasting legacy of progress and compassion.

RMAF: In what ways do you plan to collaborate with existing laureates and key stakeholders to ensure the sustained growth and relevance of the Ramon Magsaysay Award?

Kondo: We strive to boost the Award's recognition across Asia by increasing its visibility, making it a symbol of excellence and innovation that resonates deeply in Asian cultures. Through strategic outreach, collaboration and engagement efforts, we seek to foster greater understanding and appreciation for the Award's significance, and further accelerate positive change and innovation across Asia and beyond.

RMAF: The first Ramon Magsaysay Awards were given in 1958.  What is the role of the Ramon Magsaysay Award in the present regional and global contexts?

Kondo: In the past six decades, Asia has undergone a remarkable transformation, evolving into one of the most dynamic and rapidly developing regions on the global stage. The Ramon Magsaysay Award remains relevant regionally and globally as it recognizes outstanding contributions of individuals and organizations to their communities, — and Asia – inspiring others to follow suit. It serves as a catalyst for positive change by highlighting efforts to address social, economic, and environmental challenges in Asia. Globally, it promotes excellence, compassion, and transformative leadership, inspiring individuals and organizations worldwide to make meaningful impacts in their communities. Overall, the Award continues to play a crucial role in advancing positive change and progress.

RMAF: How can the Foundation address the evolving challenges and opportunities in the field of humanitarian service and leadership?

Kondo: Young people represent the future, holding the key to shaping tomorrow's world. Therefore, it's crucial for the Foundation to inspire them by showcasing the outstanding examples set by the laureates. By highlighting the remarkable work and service of these individuals, the Foundation can instill a sense of purpose and motivation in young minds. This encouragement can empower them to actively engage in serving their communities and making a positive difference in society. By following in the footsteps of these role models, young individuals can realize their potential as agents of change, ensuring a brighter and more compassionate future for generations ahead.

RMAF: In our storied 65-year history, we have seen the Magsaysay Laureates address the region's most pressing challenges.  What issues are you most keen on in our search for transformative leaders in Asia?

Kondo: Given the current situation of escalating geopolitical tensions and the potential for conflict in certain regions, it's crucial to prioritize leaders committed to peacebuilding, conflict resolution, and dialogue. We need individuals with vision, integrity, and diplomatic skills to navigate complex geopolitical landscapes effectively. These leaders foster stability and cooperation, bridging political divides and forging partnerships. In uncertain times, their dedication to dialogue offers a path to peace and progress. In our search for transformative leaders in Asia, we must find those dedicated to advancing peace and stability in their communities and beyond.

RMAF: The Ramon Magsaysay Award has always been a celebration of "greatness of spirit" in Asia.  How do you define this "greatness of spirit" that the Award embodies?

Kondo: At its core, the "greatness of spirit" celebrated by the Award manifests in acts of kindness and empathy towards others, particularly those who endure suffering or hardship. It encompasses a willingness to extend a helping hand, provide support, and advocate for the rights and well-being of others, even in the face of adversity. This ethos of compassion and service lies at the heart of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, honoring individuals who exemplify the highest ideals of humanitarianism and selfless dedication to improving the lives of others in their communities and beyond.

As James Kondo steps into his role with the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, he brings with him a clear vision and steadfast determination. His official assumption of responsibilities signals a new chapter characterized by impactful leadership and innovation. Embracing both the Foundation's rich legacy and the challenges of the future, with a commitment to honoring tradition and embracing fresh perspectives, Kondo's leadership promises to invigorate the Foundation's mission, enriching lives and communities across Asia and beyond.