Coinciding with the launch of the latest Centennial publication “Innovative Partners: The Rockefeller Foundation and Thailand,” an exhibition featuring more than 50 rare and historical photos from the newly released book commemorates The Rockefeller Foundation’s Centennial and Thailand’s development in health, agriculture, and education.
Three guests-of-honor opened the November reception, including Her Excellency Kristie Kenney the US Ambassador to Thailand; Mr. Piroon Laismit, the Director General of the Thailand International Cooperation Agency; and Dr. Juree Vichit-Vadakan, Chairperson and Founder of the Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society.
“As we look to the future, we look back at a hundred years and see that what has made a difference in development and philanthropy has been two key factors: innovation and partnerships,” said Ambassador Kenney. “I would like to congratulate The Rockefeller Foundation on a hundred years of extraordinary service to the people across the world.”
Among the earliest photos featured Rockefeller staff and Siamese officials visiting rural areas as they implemented their first campaign, the eradication of the hookworm parasite. Several others highlighted the efforts in developing rice varieties that could withstand deep flooding, as well as recapturing the roles of the Thai Royal Family in the work that’s led to vast improvements in various development areas in the last century. The exhibition particularly highlighted His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol Adulyadej, Father of the present King of Thailand, in improving public health, sanitation, and higher education in the 1920s. In the latter half of the century, photos chronicled the University Development Program and goes into more recent efforts to cope with globalization, urbanization and climate change.
In his remarks, Ashvin Dayal, associate vice president and managing director of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Asia office, conveyed two key lessons based on a century of experience in development assistance and philanthropy. One major lesson was that a program’s success is a product of cooperation and dedication of all stakeholders, and the second was a core focus on supporting local capabilities.
“We have always put a lot of effort into supporting home-grown efforts and encouraging Thai institutions, be they government, academic or civil society, to build their capacity to ultimately drive the work… As we celebrate our 100th anniversary, we realize how much we can learn from the past to ensure that we and our many partners in philanthropy continue to provide the venture capital that society needs to solve big problems in the future,” said Mr. Dayal. “In the next century, we look forward to our continued partnerships with Thailand.”