Worldwide Leadership and Service

August 24, 2023
Kao Kim Hourn, B.A. ’89, Ph.D.

Baylor Alumni have served at all levels of government throughout the United States and around the world, including mayors, governors, congressmen and ambassadors.

Kao Kim Hourn, B.A. ’89, Ph.D., B.A. ’89, Ph.D., joined the ranks of these global leaders, assuming the position of Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in January 2023.

Representing the 10 member states of ASEAN — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — Kao serves as the chief diplomatic officer to encourage economic growth, peace, stability and social progress throughout the region.

The member states represented a combined GDP of more than $3.4 trillion in 2021, making up the world’s fifth largest economy and projected to grow to the fourth largest by 2030.

Kao has formed a plan of action that centers on a platform of “the six P’s” — peace, prosperity, planet, people, partnerships and potentials.

At his Transfer of Office Ceremony, Kao addressed the gathered dignitaries with a charge to, “continue to be united and commit ourselves steadfastly in our common spirit of unity, solidarity and cooperation by showing the very best of the ASEAN Way in working in unison with our members and partners to our people in Southeast Asia and to other peoples from around the world.”

A survivor of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge genocide, Kao moved to the United States at age 15. After completing his undergraduate degree at Baylor and adding graduate degrees from Ohio University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Kao returned home to Cambodia in 1993.

Kao has worked in various governmental and educational capacities, including founding and serving as president of the University of Cambodia, as well as being appointed Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the Royal Government of Cambodia.

Kao and his family live in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the nation’s capital city.