Ernie is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on the Asia-Pacific. An innovator and builder, he has developed and helped build some of the core entities that lead U.S. business, policy and people-to-people engagement with the Indo-Pacific, particularly Southeast Asia.
Ernie helped to start the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council in the mid-1980s and served for a decade until 2004 as president of the private business group comprised of the U.S.’ leading companies in Southeast Asia. He helped to establish and build the council from the ground up, working with government and private sector leaders from the United States and Southeast Asia.
He founded the first chair for Southeast Asia among Washington’s top-tier think tanks at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, leading from 2009 to 2016. In addition, Ernie founded and codirected the Pacific Partners Initiative, the only Washington-based think tank program focusing specifically on Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island countries. He continues to serve as chair of the Southeast Asia Advisory Board and is a non-resident senior fellow at CSIS.
Ernie publishes regular commentaries and offers guidance on policy in Washington and around Asia, including providing congressional testimony and media interviews. He has led several special initiatives to help define U.S. policy in Southeast Asia, including serving as director of a U.S.-ASEAN Strategy Commission and as the secretariat of the U.S.-ASEAN Eminent Persons Group, as well as conceptualizing the U.S.-Asia Economic Strategy Commission.
Ernie is widely recognized as one of the strongest proponents for close ties between the United States and Asia. In recognition of his work, the king of Malaysia awarded him the Darjah Panglima Jasa Negara, pronouncing him holder of the title “Datuk.” The president of the Philippines awarded him the rank of “Lakan,” or commander, for his service to the Philippines.
He currently chairs the American Australian Council and serves on the boards of the Special Olympics and the Board of Advisors of the United States-Indonesia Society.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and studied Mandarin Chinese at Middlebury College’s renowned Sunderland School of Foreign Language. He and his wife Sam have three children: Charlie, Chloe and Hugh, along with their dogs Blue and Violet.