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.
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. Ali is active in several U.S. non-profits and is a mentor for The Challenge Foundation – a scholarship-based program for students from low-income communities in Denver. Before working in the non-profit field, Ali spent 14 years as an entrepreneur/business owner.
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 in Europe and Asia.
Lou McNamara, Board Member
Lou commenced her working life as a teacher and then administrator. She has post-graduate qualifications as an internationally accredited management system developer and auditor. She has worked as a consultant with numerous multinational companies in Australia and also in South East Asia on behalf of the United Nations as a specialist consultant and trainer for UNIDO to ensure clients met international standards.
Lou is the operations manager of the Matesabroad Foundation. She visits Cambodia several times each year, personally overseeing the Australian students’ immersion activities in the EYC schools. Matesabroad’s main focus is to assist EYC with the development and implementation of initiatives to strengthen the English Program. Lou oversees a strong team of Australian educators volunteering to achieve this goal.
Mona Tep, Board Member
Mona is an internationally recognized business leader with over 20 years of experience in the public and private sectors. After returning to her native Cambodia following years living in France and Canada, Mona worked to promote investments in the energy sector as well as post-Khmer Rouge healing and tourism through television programming. She then implemented the public education element of a World Bank biodiversity project and helped develop Khmer identity through a local artisan training program.
Mona then devoted seven years to turning a USAID skills development project into a sustainable private-sector funded institution that improves the productive capacity of thousands of Cambodian factory workers and mid-managers. She moved on to become part of the management team of a UK-owned, Cambodian-based clothing manufacturer. Following that experience, she became the start-up COP of a major USAID-funded youth employment program in Morocco before working as an Acting Site Director, enhancing productivity, CSR programs, and Social Dialog. Mona currently runs her family’s healthcare business, which has become one of the leading pharmaceutical outlets in Cambodia. In 2020, she opened a family medicare center.
Educated in Canada and fluent in English, Khmer, and French, Mona has an aptitude for working in cross-cultural business and governmental environments. She is the current president of the Equestrian Federation of Cambodia.
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.
Delphine Vann, Board Member
In 2001, Delphine moved to Cambodia, drawn by the need to discover the country of her birth and her father’s home country. As a little girl and when war was emerging in Cambodia, she and her family escaped finding refuge in Switzerland, her mother’s country of origin. The urge to “return to Cambodia to help” inspired Delphine in building a career as a humanitarian professional working in war-torn areas, including Bosnia, Rwanda, and Columbia, before returning to Cambodia in 2001.
After fifteen years of working for multiple NGOs, Delphine’s conclusion is that Cambodia’s development lies in the hands of its youth. Following six years as EYC’s Managing Director, Delphine now serves on EYC’s Board of Directors. She is excited to help EYC continue to provide essential education and development opportunities for very marginalized yet deserving youth.