Asia Society Texas Center

2019 Young Leaders Institute: Energy and Security

Monday, Jul. 22, 2019 – Friday, Jul. 26, 2019

08:30 AM – 12:30 PM

ASTC Young Leaders’ Institute web banner - Energy & Security

In order to be prepared for the challenges of the 21st century, students need to be globally competent. The Young Leaders Institute (YLI) is a week-long program designed to prepare Houston high school students for leadership in a globally interconnected city and world. Students will engage in the four tenets of global competency:

  • Investigate the world
  • Recognize perspectives
  • Communicate ideas
  • Take action

Throughout the week, students will learn the value of collaboration as they work in teams, researching, debating, and presenting solutions for the challenges facing our world. They will be mentored throughout the week by Asia Society staff and local experts in their respective fields. All content provided will help students form arguments when taking the side of an issue and be invaluable when presenting policy recommendations on the Institute's last day.

Over 120 students have benefited from the Young Leaders Institute in 20162017, and 2018. The Institute's fourth year will include a repeat of the Middle East session and new sessions on U.S.-China relations and on energy and security, respectively. Asia Society staff will also arrange a field trip on one of the days of the week.

Topics discussed during the Energy and Security session may include the following (subject to change):

  • Access to energy in Asia and imports/exports
  • Asia's energy portfolio and future of renewable fuels
  • Business of energy and growing demand in Asia
  • Climate change and environmental concerns
  • Importance of LNG (liquified natural gas) in Asia
  • Managing risk in potential geopolitical flashpoints in Asia
  • Trade-off between fossil fuels and alternative resources

For questions, please contact Mei Qi, Business and Policy Programs Manager, at MQi@AsiaSociety.org or 713.496.9915.



"I learned a lot about the different policies concerning China and the U.S. and other nations. It's a good experience and builds us up to be better leaders and prepares us for possible future career paths." — Student, 2018 Young Leaders Institute

"I have been thoroughly impressed with your success in getting young people to think more deeply about global issues. Such opportunities are so critical in this society. I appreciate your work." — Parent of a student, 2018 Young Leaders Institute

"I'm confident that the knowledge I have gained over the last week will assist me greatly in the future. I've been working on honing my skills and there's no better way to do so than through a debate and presentation." — Student, 2018 Young Leaders Institute


About the Speakers


Paula Harris

Paula Harris is a 30-year executive with Schlumberger and she currently holds the title of Director, Global Stewardship. Paula has received numerous recognitions, including being named Black Engineer’s “50 who make a Difference”, “Key Women in Energy”, “Greater Houston Women’s Chamber-Woman of Distinction”, and the “Women of Color in Technology” award. She has been appointed to the Theater Under the Stars (TUTS) board, Space Center Houston Board, Petroleum Club of Houston Board, and the Menil Development Board. Paula was elected to the Houston Independent School District Board of Education in 2007 and also served as board president and the district was recognized twice by the White House under her leadership. Paula has been instrumental in implementing robotics and coding clubs throughout the region including in Houston ISD, Fort Bend ISD and City of Houston after school programs. Paula’s first book is “For Sister: The Guide for Professional Black Women” which was published in 2003. Paula’s latest book is a children’s book entitled “When I Grow UP, I Want to Be an Engineer”. This book has been translated into 4 languages and over 100,000 copies of this popular book have been distributed by the Houston Children’s Museum, the Offshore Energy Museum, the San Jacinto Council of Girl Scouts, Houston ISD, Ft Bend ISD, Alvin ISD, and Jack and Jill of America. Paula is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a degree in Petroleum Engineering and a Master’s in Education Emerging Technology.


Tom Kolditz

Tom Kolditz is the founding Director of the Ann & John Doerr Institute for New Leaders at Rice University—the most comprehensive, evidence-based, university-wide leader development program in the world. Serving all 6200 students at Rice, the Doerr Institute is among the largest leader development enterprises in Texas. Formerly teaching at the Yale School of Management, he was chairman of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership at West Point, the founding director of the West Point Leadership Center, co-founded the Thayer Leader Development Group, and built a leader development consultancy, Saxon Castle. Brigadier General Kolditz received the Distinguished Service Medal, the Army’s highest award for service, and is a Fellow in the American Psychological Association. Dr. Kolditz has published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the World Economic Forum. In 2017, he received the prestigious Warren Bennis Award for Excellence in Leadership, a distinction shared by noteworthy leaders including Howard Schultz, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Bill George. He is ranked #6 in Coaching by a UK professional ranking organization, Global Gurus. He holds a BA from Vanderbilt University, three master’s degrees, and a PhD in psychology from the University of Missouri.


Vani Rao

Vani Rao is the Diversity & Inclusion Director for Quanta Services. In this newly created role, she will partner with Quanta’s global operating units to drive profitability through diverse practices and inclusive behaviors. Prior to joining the Quanta family, Vani worked for BP for 15 years with roles in upstream projects & engineering, continuous improvement, planning, capability and most recently in Diversity & Inclusion with accountability for BP America’s employee resource groups. Vani received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Austin College and MBA from Columbia University. She is also certified in project management (Project Management Professional®) and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. She is also a 2012 APAWLI (Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute) Fellow, a signature leadership program for APA women. As a classically trained dancer, Vani indulges her lifelong love for Indian performing arts and education by serving on Asia Society’s Advisory Board and by supporting charitable organizations in the US and India focused on upliftment. Most of her spare time is devoted to mentoring students and supporting the Dallas Cowboys.


Liz Schwarze

Liz Schwarze assumed the role of vice president of Global Exploration for Chevron Upstream in April 2018 and is responsible for the company’s worldwide exploration program. Liz joined Chevron in 1990 as a development geologist in the Gulf of Mexico and has held positions of increasing responsibility in exploration, reservoir management, finance and business planning. She has worked on projects in Venezuela and Angola as well as the San Joaquin Valley and Permian Basin areas of the United States.

Recent roles have included general manager of Exploration for Chevron Africa and Latin America Exploration and Production Company, based in Houston; general manager of Exploration for Chevron Asia Pacific Exploration and Production Company, based in Singapore; and division manager of Exploration and Reservoir Characterization Services for Chevron’s Energy Technology Company, also in Houston. Liz holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from Duke University, a master’s degree in geology from The University of Texas at Austin and a master’s in business administration from Tulane University. She is a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists and the Society of Petroleum Engineers.


About the Facilitator


Mary Reed Image

Mary Reed is a Social Studies teacher at Memorial High School. She earned her B.S. in 1975 from Oklahoma State University. After graduation, she taught United States History in Alief ISD and served as Social Studies Department Chairman. At Memorial High School she has taught AP World History and World Geography at the PreAP, GT, and academic levels. She has served as PTA president and Campus Improvement Team member, District Improvement Team member, and curriculum writer. Being raised on three continents has given Mary an appreciation of other cultures and a love of travel. She has experienced 52 different countries, and imparts her global curiosity to her students both inside the classroom and through leading international summer trips. She is a scholastic coach to several teams including: UIL Current Issues and Events, UIL Social Studies, World Affairs Council Academic WorldQuest Challenge, and Texas Quiz Bowl. She is also the sponsor of her high school chapter of Model United Nations. She has been a featured presenter in other school districts, at professional conferences, and for the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston. She recently presented “Korea: the Forgotten Victory” in Washington, D.C.


Additional Sessions

Session 1: U.S.-China Relations
Monday, June 24 – Friday, June 28, 2019
Topics may include bilateral trade negotiations, the countries' role in global financial institutions, and China's soft power in Asia.

Session 2: Middle East
Monday, July 15 – Friday, July 19, 2019
Topics may include U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, foreign direct investment, and refugees and internal displacement.


Education and outreach programs at Asia Society Texas Center are made possible through generous funding from Karen Chang and the George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation. Additional support is provided by Friends of Asia Society Texas Center, a dedicated group of individuals and organizations committed to bringing the best in exhibitions and public programming to Houston.

Presenting Sponsors


Karen Chang Hamman


  • Tuesday - Friday, 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
    Saturday & Sunday, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
    Closed Mondays and major holidays
  • Free Hours: Admission to the building and Grand Hall exhibition is free. Admission to the Louisa Stude Sarofim Gallery is free for Asia Society members; $8 for nonmembers.

Directions & Parking

  • Free Parking
  • Paid Parking
  • Street Parking
  • Parking in Asia Society Texas Center's lot is $5 for 1-24 hours. Entrances on Caroline and Austin. Limited free and paid street parking also available.

Special Offers / Dining

An India-Inspired Café
Enjoy breakfast and lunch at Pondi! Pondicheri's museum café is open for extended lunch hours Tuesday through Sunday with a vibrant and innovative menu featuring everything from butter chicken to saffron shrimp salad and roti wraps.
Tuesday – Friday, 11 am – 5 pm
Saturday – Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm


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