Since 1987 Wayne Forrest has been Executive Director and then President of the American Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, a private not for profit membership organization based in NY. Founded in 1949, the Chamber has been the principal US business organization devoted to promoting better commercial ties between the US and Indonesia. With a national membership of over 160 members, the Chamber assists new entrants and established players develop and strengthen their business ties with Indonesia. AICC's counterparts in Indonesia are the American Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia (AMCHAM) and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN).
Mr. Forrest edits "Outlook Indonesia", the Chamber's newsletter, and contributes regularly to other publications such as The Economist and Architectural Record. In response to an increase in demand for manufactured products from Indonesia, he edited “Sourcing Products in Indonesia: A Guide for Importers", the first publication of its kind. Frequently on call to provide orientations to Americans moving or traveling to Indonesia, Mr. Forrest is also a regular visitor. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Mr. Forrest spent 18 months studying the Indonesian language at Yale University and in Indonesia, where he lived in Surakarta and studied Javanese music and culture. Mr. Forrest maintains an active interest in Indonesia's music and is a member of several gamelan music study groups in the US.
In August 1996, he traveled to Indonesia with a group of 30 US students and teachers who had won an essay contest on why Indonesia is important to the United States. Sponsored by member firms such as Texaco, Chevron, and Mobil, the trip grew out of a major public education program geared at high school students that the Chamber organized with a leading educational publisher, Scholastic Inc. The group traveled throughout Indonesia and met Indonesia's President, Soeharto, and Vice President, Try Soetrisno.
In 1998, in response to the economic crisis and collapse of the value of Indonesia’s currency, Mr. Forrest organized a major campaign to assist Indonesia’s children and mothers: “Preventing a Lost Generation”. Members of AICC and others contributed over $2 million for programs in Indonesia designed by UNICEF and CARE to keep children in school.
In 2005, Forrest and AICC created “A Comprehensive Indonesian-English Dictionary”, authored by Dr. Alan Stevens, the first new dictionary of its kind in 20 years. Forrest’s work on behalf of the international interests of US businesses was recognized by the US Department of Commerce who awarded him its “Certificate for Achievement in Trade” on March 2004. Mr. Forrest serves on the board of directors of the American Indonesian Education and Cultural Foundation, the Kartika Sukarno Foundation for Indonesian Children as well as the American Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (President) and is a member of the board of advisors of the US-Indonesia Society. He frequently comments to the press and government committees on commercial developments in Indonesia.