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.
Hem Vanna, Board Member
Hem Vanna is a self-taught filmmaker. He graduated from Norton University with a bachelors degree in Business Administration. He has worked in media since 2005 with different local and international NGOs and institutes, including Support Children and Young People, German Cultural Center and MTV EXIT.
At Support Children and Young People (SCY), he worked for three years training young reporters on how to produce film documentaries. Every year he assisted thirty local young reporters to make films on social issues (focused on children and young people’s issues), which were screened in a popular local channel (Youth Today Program). It is through SCY that Vanna first worked with EYC, as students from Aziza School were among the young reporters with whom Vanna worked.
Vanna is currently working as a freelance film documentary maker focusing on social issues such as human rights, child sex exploitation, gender-based violence, and human trafficking. He is also a member of the international filmmakers of ‘Document Our History Now’ based in Amsterdam. Vanna has been a member of the EYC board since 2015.
Mai Channeang, Alumni Board Member
Mai Channeang is CEO of Oudong Express Tour & Travel & Phnom Penh Taxi, a transportation company he started in 2015. In 2014 he graduated with a Bachelor Degree of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development at Royal University of Agriculture. During and after university, Chenneang worked multiple jobs to gain experiences in sales, business, and management level work. He is also an active volunteer for many organizations including EYC.
Channeang moved from a rural province in 2009 to attend University. His mother saved enough for his first year of schooling, but he had to find housing and work. Through a friend, Channeang heard about EYC and become a student at Lakeside School in 2009 where he learned English and Computer and was given a place to stay in Youth School. He then became a volunteer with EYC in multiple roles such as Team Leader and English Teaching Assistant.
As a Board member, Channeang is committed to sharing his skills, knowledge, and experience with the next generation of kids and youth. His goal is to help EYC encourage kids and youth to generate ideas and think more broadly to have a good life involved in social activities and contributing to society.
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.
Pou Teng, Board Member
Pou Teng is the Executive Director of the Children and Woman Development Center in Cambodia (CWDC). CWDC is a local NGO based in Kampot Province with the goal of empowering communities to work collectively to improve the overall wellbeing of community people, focusing particularly on women and children.
Teng was a research group member of the cooperative inquiry into civil society governance in Cambodia and Myanmar in 2014 and brings strong experience and knowledge regarding good governance practices and a focus on the empowerment of women and children. Teng has been a member of the EYC Board since 2015.
Seng Seila, Alumni Board Member
Seng Seila graduated with his bachelor degree of Environmental Science in August 2016 from Pannasastra University of Cambodia (PUC). He is currently working as a program coordinator and teacher of yoga at Kundalini Yoga Cambodia. In addition, he is a leader of ASEAN Youth Environment (AYE), an organization he created in 2014 with the purpose of sharing the fundamental knowledge of the environment with Cambodian people through NGOs and the community at no cost. He is also volunteering at EYC as a sports facilitator.
In his teens, Seila’s house was close to Aziza and he was among the first students to attend EYC classes. He was involved in EYC’s programs, including English, computers, sports, and training courses. Over time he became a team leader helping to lead Aziza’s general programs and was also responsible for the Aziza sports program. When EYC expanded to the additional three schools, he was promoted to sports facilitator, leading all sports programs at EYC.
Seila’s goal is to provide a good connection between the board and alumni to help handle challenges and set clear goals for EYC’s framework. He is also excited to learn more about management and leadership while sharing and contributing his resources to EYC. Seila volunteers his time to EYC because he wants to see students have an opportunity at a better life. He personally wants to develop Cambodia though social and charity work.