Formed in 2015, EYC’s Board of Directors is composed of a dedicated group of volunteers both in and out of country working to support the organization and ensure correct governance and long-term sustainability. The following are the members of EYC’s Board of Directors:
Drew McDowell, Founder & Board Member
In 2005, Drew McDowell visited a slum area in Cambodia. What he experienced stuck with him – wonderful, bright children living in squalor. After raising funds from his friends and family, he returned to Cambodia in 2006 to volunteer. Upon arriving he became involved with a school that was about to close. There he met a dynamic local English teacher who became the teacher and manager of the first EYC school. Drew continued to fundraise and help grow operations, supporting the local team in opening a total of four schools and starting new programs. Drew studied Business Finance for his undergraduate degree and later completed an MBA, both from Colorado State University. He was married in Cambodia in 2010 and has two sons. In 2016, Drew moved back to the United States with his family.
Steve Heimberg, Board Member
Attorney Steven Heimberg has dedicated his legal career to protecting the rights of the disadvantaged and the powerless in American society, particularly those who have been catastrophically injured by the wrongdoing of others. His accomplishments have resulted in his being nationally recognized as a top trial lawyer. He has been selected by his peers as one of the Top 500 Litigators in America, Top 500 Plaintiffs Attorneys in America, Southern California’s Top 100 Super Lawyers and Los Angeles, California’s Trial Lawyer of the Year, (California is the largest and most populous state (province) in the USA). Dr. Heimberg, who is a medical doctor as well as a lawyer, is particularly well known for handling legal cases involving misconduct by healthcare providers and healthcare industries. While fighting for his clients, Dr. Heimberg has won numerous record-setting verdicts and settlements.
Dr. Heimberg has a long history of community involvement and is a lifetime board member of both of California’s top consumer-oriented attorney organizations. He is a board member of Ralph’s Riders, the premiere support organization for paralyzed persons, and was recognized as its Person of the Year. Another major charity for Southern California’s disabilities community (WYNGS) named Dr. Heimberg its Benefactor of the Year.
Dr. Heimberg became involved in helping Cambodian children in 2006 and is on the board of several groups and NGO’s providing education and community support to some of Phnom Penh’s poorest communities. He is deeply involved in numerous schools and multiple communities throughout Phnom Penh. He is currently developing plans for a community agro-business in Cambodia and Thailand.
Simouy Seng, Alumni Board Member
Simouy Seng graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 2017 from Royal University of Phnom Penh. She was a former student and has volunteered for Empowering Youth in Cambodia, which greatly helped her on her own path. She worked as the Media and Communication Coordinator at Women’s Network for Unity and is excited to continue making a difference for women in Cambodia. The Women’s Network for Unity is the only organization in Cambodia that works with sex workers in order to connect them to a supportive network, providing advocacy, access to social services and helping them to be free from violence and discrimination. She has also volunteered and worked with a variety of community and arts organizations.
Simouy recently received a scholarship to study in Australia for her Master’s degree in Gender Studies. She is currently studying English full-time before departing for Australia next year.
Simouy has a passion for improving the status of all women in her country. Having grown up in a family without many resources, and in a society where boys typically get more educational opportunities, Simouy was determined to get the best education possible. She strongly believes that education is key to helping women prepare to become leaders and that education will also give them more decision-making control and freedom from discrimination. She is committed to finding ways to create positive impacts for women and upon returning from Australia, Simouy wants to be a visiting University teacher so that she can share the knowledge and experiences she acquired abroad. Simouy also wants to provide equal opportunities for women and girls to be able to go to school and work. Additionally, after returning from Australia, Simouy plans to volunteer with NGOs working with women and youth, particularly EYC, where she can be a mentor for women and girls.
Jodi Pederson, Board Chair
Jodi Pederson consults for both for-profit and non-profit organizations working across multiple industries on projects for operational improvement, communication, and change management. She has worked for Accenture, LivCor (a Blackstone company), Crown Media International, Newmont, and various start-ups in industries ranging from multi-family (including water and energy conservation projects), media, real estate, oil & gas, mining, and telecommunications. Jodi is involved in various organizations to support women in their entrepreneurial endeavors – both from the entrepreneur and investor perspective.
Jodi has been actively involved with EYC through multiple volunteer trips to Phnom Penh, and she became a formal Advisor to the team in 2012, supporting capacity development of the leadership team, planning, and fundraising. She firmly believes in EYC’s personal approach and supports EYC’s focus on empowering all youth, especially young women.
Ali Mayer, Board Member
Ali is the Executive Director of the Mayer-Phillips Foundation, which invests in innovative programs and initiatives that help Americans take ownership of their futures and prepare them to succeed in the world of tomorrow. Particular areas of focus are project-based learning, STEM, skills-based training or re-training, job preparedness, and financial literacy/economic self-sufficiency. Ali’s interest both within and beyond the foundation lies in the empowerment of women and girls, particularly through education and entrepreneurship.
Before working in the non-profit field, Ali spent 14 years as an entrepreneur/business owner. Her first endeavor was leading the turn-around of Verbatim, an independent bookstore in Vail, Colorado. Following Verbatim,
Ali launched Ambajam, a high-end line of children’s blankets and accessory products. Through Ambajam, Ali started a program called “The Cuddle-up Campaign,” which provided blankets to vulnerable and disadvantaged children domestically and internationally.
Ali is active in several U.S. non-profits, including The Women’s Foundation of Colorado. She is also a mentor for The Challenge Foundation – a scholarship-based program for students from low-income communities in Denver.
Ali has been involved with EYC since her first visit in 2016 and has been managing the group communications strategy and website since 2017. She is grateful for the chance to work with the staff and students and appreciates EYC’s holistic approach and focus on the individual student. Ali holds a B.A. in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University and spent 16 years living overseas in Europe and Asia.