The Asia Foundation has announced the appointment of Dr. V. Bruce J. Tolentino (EAPI 82 and member of the EWCA Northern California Chapter) as The Asia Foundation’s (next) Country Representative, Afghanistan, effective around June 15, 2011. Currently, Dr. Tolentino is the Foundation’s San Francisco-based Director, Economic Reform and Development (the Foundation’s Chief Economist), and has superb credentials and decades of senior level program, management, representational, and fund-raising/donor experience.
Bruce is a former cabinet-level official of the Government of the Philippines and a seasoned international development specialist, having worked for numerous international policy research and donor agencies, including, but not limited to, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and multiple agencies within the United Nations system. Having led and directed large scale and diverse programs and teams in challenging (in some cases extraordinarily challenging) environments in Somalia, Cambodia, Southern Philippines, Aceh and Myanmar, Bruce will bring a wealth of relevant field leadership and management experience to the tasks at hand in Afghanistan.
Bruce spent two years in Somalia (1993 to 1995), during particularly difficult times in that country’s history, leading and directing UNDP’s $35 million a year Somalia Rehabilitation Program, a program designed to promote peace, strengthen local governance, enhance rural development, and improve the provision of social services. From 1989 to 1992, he was Deputy Minister for Policy, Planning, and International Trade with the Philippines Ministry of Agriculture, and is thereby attuned to the realities and practicalities of public sector governance, be it at “the center” or in the provinces.
He contributed to the $40 million a year Cambodia Rehabilitation and Reintegration Program (CARERE), where he was responsible for oversight and supervision of provincial offices focused on decentralization, local governance, local development planning, small and micro-scale enterprise development, and women’s empowerment. With Bruce’s input and assistance, CARERE evolved into what later became the Government of Cambodia’s national decentralization program.
His work experience includes positions as Senior Economic Advisor to the Supreme Economic Council of Cambodia under an ADB project, 2002-2004; Chief Technical Advisor on International Trade to the Government of Vietnam, under an FAO project, 2000-2002; and Senior Advisor on Policy, Planning and Reorganization to the Government of the Philippines, under an ADB project, 1997-2000. He has extensive NGO experience as well, most recently serving as Senior Technical Advisor for Catholic Relief Services with regional responsibilities for agriculture, natural resource management, and employment generation programs in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
He joined The Asia Foundation in 2007 as the Foundation’s Director of Economic Reform and Development, a position he has occupied with distinction for the past four years. In that capacity, he directs and manages The Asia Foundation’s economic reform and development programs. In addition to his many accountabilities as Chief Economist, he served two-month stints as Acting Representative in Sri Lanka and Pakistan and, in 2009, in Afghanistan.
Bruce completed University-level training in Mass Communications at St. Louis University, Philippines; B.S. and M.A. in Economics at Xavier University in the Philippines; Ph.D. in Economic Development and Rural Finance from the East-West Center and University of Hawaii, U.S.A.