Michael Bäk is the Senior Governance Advisor at USAID’s Regional Development Mission for Asia (RDMA) in Bangkok, Thailand. He joined RDMA in January 2008 and has worked for USAID for more than 12 years. Trained as a political economist (specializing on Southeast Asia), his professional expertise includes democracy, human rights and governance, conflict mitigation, and peacebuilding. He has recently undertaken analysis and design of development activities in the People’s Republic of China, Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, and other regional initiatives including one of USAID’s most high-profile public-private partnership with MTV EXIT (End Exploitation and Trafficking.) He designed and led a comprehensive interagency China governance analysis (CGA) that brought together the “three D’s”. He has led efforts to engage more closely with U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) in areas of civil society, conflict mitigation, and good governance. He now leads efforts to integrate LGBT development issues into regional development programming and services.
Prior to joining RDMA, he served at USAID/Indonesia as the Director (a.i.) of the Democratic and Decentralized Governance Office, Director of the Office of Conflict Prevention and Response, among other positions. In Aceh (Indonesia), Mr. Bäk worked extensively on post-tsunami emergency response and community-driven recovery efforts; and led the USG's efforts working with the Free Aceh Movement and the Government of Indonesia to ensure sustainable implementation of the peace agreement that ended more than 30 years of bloody conflict. He received an award signed by both Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton for his work in Aceh.
Before joining USAID, Mr. Bäk worked for a private consulting firm specializing in controversy management and risk communications. He holds a BA in French literature and international studies from Kalamazoo College (Michigan), an MA in international economics and international relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC, and certificates from American University Peacebuilding Institute and Nagoya Gakuin University (Japan).
He speaks and writes several languages including Bahasa Indonesia, Melayu, French, Japanese, Spanish, and is currently learning Thai.