Myanmar community leader honored with Community Leader Award

The Community Leader Award is given to an outstanding leader that provides services and assistance to the Asian/Pacific Islander Community in Indianapolis

April 23, 2017

Indianapolis, Ind. – Elaisa Vahnie, executive director of the Burmese American Community Institute, will be honored Sunday by the Asian Student Union of Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis at its annual Asian Heritage Celebration Dinner. Vahnie, a leader in the Myanmar community, is one of three recipients receiving an award recognizing a community leader, a faculty/staff member and a student for contributions to the Asian/Pacific Islander community in Indianapolis.

The Community Leader Award is given to an outstanding leader that provides services and assistance to the Asian/Pacific Islander Community in Indianapolis, according to the ASU.

Since its inception in 2011, the Burmese American Community Institute has assisted more than 4,000 individual refugees, many who are members of Myanmar’s ethnic minorities, who were resettled in Central Indiana or who moved to the area from other U.S. cities. The nonprofit organization offers English language and civics classes, citizenship and naturalization workshops, technical support for starting micro-business enterprises and sustainable employment, and academic programs that prepare Burmese high school students for college.

“Congratulations to Mr. Elaisa Vahnie who more than deserves this award as he has used his education and leadership skills to forward the Burmese refugees’ integration in and beyond Indianapolis,” said Bonnie Kane, a board member of BACI. “His superior leadership skills, great knowledge and sensitivity are promoting the many issues relating to Burmese here and in Burma.”

BACI has formed various strategic partnerships nationally and internationally including the first U.S.-Myanmar Engagement Conference held at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis in 2015. As part of its national initiative, BACI launched earlier this year the Myanmar Students and Professionals Network USA (MSPNUSA) with the aim of connecting Myanmar students and professionals across the United States and supporting its members to achieve academic and professional success.

“The Burmese American Community Institute has done incredible work of preparing students for the difficulties of college work. I am pleased that its key leader Mr. Vahnie has been recognized,” says Dr. Bruce Ray, a junior scientist at IUPUI who also serves on BACI board.

As founding director of the Institute, Vahnie has previously been recognized with numerous awards for his leadership and service. He holds a Master’s of Public Affairs (MPA) degree from Indiana University Bloomington, where he specialized in Comparative International Affairs and Policy Analysis.


The Burmese American Community Institute (BACI) is a non-profit organization founded in 2011 that provides educational and vocational support to the Burmese community in greater Indianapolis. The BACI strives to support community members regionally, nationally, and globally through strategic partnerships and advocacy.



One comment on “Myanmar community leader honored with Community Leader Award

  1. THIHA Reply

    Congratulations! Good to hear that….

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