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Ben Justus

FOUNDER

Ben’s shared passion for community service and the hospitality industry prompted him to start EGBOK. When he visited Cambodia in 2006, he was struck by the warmth and hospitality of the country’s people. During his travels he recognized that, despite Cambodia booming in tourism and economic growth, deep down it is a country rebuilding itself from the Cambodian genocide. During his travels, he began to ask himself how a developing country like Cambodia can utilize this growing hospitality industry to alleviate poverty in local communities. Ben realized that he and others could use their backgrounds in hospitality to make a difference for the underprivileged young adults in Cambodia. A year later, while still a student at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, Ben founded EGBOK.

In 2009, Ben moved to Cambodia and began teaching hospitality classes at various orphanages in the Phnom Penh Province. Later that year EGBOK incorporated in Chicago, Illinois and in January 2011 received its US federal tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) status. EGBOK began expanding its programs to the Siem Reap Province and eventually set up a team, school, and Living Centers in the Siem Reap city center. In 2012, EGBOK expanded to our new facility and began offering additional services to the rural underprivileged communities in Cambodia. Ben now serves as a volunteer Board Member and mentor for EGBOK. He is the General Manger for Sonder in his hometown of sunny San Diego.

 

Sigrid Baldinger

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

After having lived in Cambodia for two years, Sigrid joined EGBOK in 2015 with an extensive background in both education and hospitality. She previously worked at the Singapore Helm Institute of Education (SHINE) as their Business Program Manager while volunteering at EGBOK as a TESOL certified English teacher. Prior to moving to Cambodia, Sigrid worked at The Ritz-Carlton in Singapore. Her passion for helping Cambodian youth through hospitality and education is what brought Sigrid to EGBOK. 

Originally from Gmunden, Austria, Sigrid received her diploma in Hotel Management from a hotel school located in Klessheim, Austria.

 

Ben Thorne

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Ben has over nine years’ experience in the non-profit sector. Originally trained as
a tropical marine biologist, Ben has a Masters in Environmental Science from the
University of Sydney and numerous scientific publications. He also holds a
postgraduate degree in business management and is a proud member of the
World Economic Forum’s, prestigious Global Shapers Community. Having spent
the past five years supporting community development, education, healthcare
and environmental conservation projects in rural Cambodia, Ben joined the
EGBOK team with a strong understanding of the Kingdom’s challenges relating to
poverty and a dedication to empowering the nation’s leaders of tomorrow.
In his spare time Ben is a keen triathlete who enjoys the challenges of endurance
sports; as such, he is on a mission to complete his second IRONMAN triathlon in 2018.

 
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Keu Dara

ADMINISTRATION AND ACCOUNTS SUPERVISOR

Dara has over 5 years of professional experience working in the accounting field at a travel agency in Phnom Penh before he joined the EGBOK team.

He is originally from Kandal Province and he earned a Bachelor degree in Accounting at Vanda Institute of Accounting. During his studies he did an internship of computerized accounting and attended several seminars and trainings mainly for Microsoft and accounting software applications. He also volunteered as an English teacher for children at a church in Phnom Penh during his second year at the university.

At EGBOK Dara is in charge of administration, accounting and relationships with authorities.

 

Huy Bunty

ADMINISTRATIVE & HR OFFICER

She's originally from Kralanh district, Siem Reap province. 

After graduating high school in 2013, she received a scholarship from Pepy Empowering Youth for two years. She was provided training in soft skills, English language and computer skills. During her studies she worked as a volunteer to survey school drop outs and hygiene at local community schools. From 2013 - 2017, she pursued her bachelor degree in accounting at Vanda Institute. Prior to joining EGBOK in July 2017 Bunty gained experience as an accountant with a local non-profit organization.

 
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Top Kandara

PROGRAM COORDINATOR

Kandara brings her experience in business administration and project coordination to support and manage EGBOK’s project and program operations. Kandara focuses her efforts with EGBOK on strengthening relationships with the communities in which we partner, recruiting students for our training program, and supporting the students through their transition into life at EGBOK.

Kandara is pursuing her Masters degree in Business Management at Build Bright University. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Asia Euro University as well as an Associates degree in Financial Management and Accounting from Build Bright University in Cambodia. Kandara is from Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

 
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Kong Dara

EDUCATION MANAGER

Dara’s diverse professional background includes working in a number of different capacities in the hospitality sector in Cambodia as well as working with various organizations that support local youth through hospitality training and employment. His experience brings an optimal perspective as he focuses his efforts with EGBOK on creating and strengthening our partnerships with hospitality businesses in Cambodia, managing student employment and internships, and overseeing student hospitality training. He is also a ASEAN National Master Trainer in Food and Beverage Service certified by Ministry of Tourism. 

Dara holds a Master in Entrepreneurship Management and a Bachelor in Project Management and Community Development from Build Bright University in Cambodia. Dara is from Kompong Speu Province, Cambodia.

 
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Kim Sopheak

GRAPHIC DESIGNER & MARKETING ASSISTANT

Originally from Siem Reap, Sopheak joined EGBOK with extensive experience in marketing and design, having previously worked in Phnom Penh for various marketing agencies and NGOs. He holds a bachelor degree in IT and Computer Science from Royal University of Phnom Penh in Cambodia and a Diploma in Computer & Graphics Design from IT Academy Step Cambodia.

 

Khoun Suon

HOSPITALITY TRAINER

Suon has worked in the Cambodian hospitality and tourism industry for over 10 years. Since 2007, he has also worked in the education field as an English teacher. He brings his valuable hospitality and education experience to his role of Hospitality Trainer in EGBOK’s Education Department, where he leads our practical hospitality classes and prepares the students for their internships and future careers.

Suon is currently earning his bachelor degree in English at Cambodia Mekong University in Siem Reap. He is originally from Banteay Meanchey Province.

 

Mao Sophany

SOCIAL WORK SUPERVISOR / STUDENT SUPPORT SUPERVISOR

Sophany has over 6 years of professional experience working with young adults at various NGOs. Her roles have included social work management, community development, education and vocational training, and professional counseling.

At EGBOK, Sophany is responsible for overseeing the social work department. Her duties include supporting students  to enhance their overall well-being and ensuring that their basic needs are met. She pays particular attention to empowering the students to be strong and responsible people in their lives and careers.

Sophany graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), Cambodia. She is from Prey Veng province. 

 
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Morn Tep

CAREER & ALUMNI DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR

Tep is originally from Prey Veng province and has lived in Siem Reap for 10 years. He started as a volunteer English teacher and was subsequently promoted to English and Life Skills Trainer at Salariin Kampuchea. Before joining EGBOK, Tep worked as a Social & Education Manager at École du Bayon. At EGBOK Tep is in charge of career counseling, internship and job placements, as well as alumni engagement.

 
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Phork Seiha

STUDENT DEVELOPMENT OFFICER

Seiha brings to EGBOK his experience as a Social Worker. Before joining EGBOK as our Student Development Officer, Sehia worked for two years with another NGO in their social work department. At EGBOK, Seiha focuses on the life skills component of our program, which includes conducting weekly workshops to teach students the skills needed to live independently. He also assists with social work matters such as one-on-one counseling and assisting students with transitions.

Seiha graduated from Build Bright University with a Bachelor’s degree in English for International Business and is currently pursuing his Master degree. Seiha is from Banteay Meanchey Province, Cambodia.

 

Khan Narong

HOUSEKEEPER

Narong joined EGBOK in October 2012 as a part time housekeeper. She ensures that our facility is kept clean and tidy so that students can focus on their studies. In the afternoon, Narong works at a local café in Siem Reap. Originally from Battambang Province, Narong spent many years living in Phnom Penh and Kampong Chhnang Province before moving to Siem Reap. Narong has two sons and hopes to own a small business one day. Her favorite thing about working at EGBOK is watching the students learn throughout the year and receive jobs after graduating. 

 
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Kong Po

GARDENER

Po has been working with EGBOK since 2012 as our gardener and security guard. He has a passion for gardening and also works as a groundskeeper for a boutique hotel in town. Po has nine children and recently saw his son-in-law graduate from EGBOK. His favorite thing about working for EGBOK is helping other Cambodians to be successful. Po grew up in Siem Reap and has worked as a farmer and gardener. 


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Ly Pock Heng

RESTAURANT MANAGER

Heng brings to the team 9 years of restaurant management experience working in hotels and restaurants throughout Siem Reap. Heng spent 5 years with Borei Angkor Hotel and Spa, working his way up from waiter to restaurant supervisor. He then went on to serve as a restaurant manager for both Blue Moon Café and Temple Bakery before joining EGBOK to manage Spoons. As Spoons restaurant manager, Heng oversees the restaurant’s operations as well as the recruitment, training and management of Spoons staff. 

Heng has received specialized training in wine service and restaurant management. He was born in Battambang and moved to Siem Reap at the age of 19.

 

Noeurm Sombou

SOUS CHEF

Sombor is thrilled to share his passion for Cambodian cuisine as Spoons’ Sous Chef. He has been working for five years in the kitchens of some of Siem Reap’s most popular restaurants including Café Central, The Sun, and 55 Kitchen & Bar. He one day hopes to become Head Chef of his own restaurant. Sombor is originally from Siem Reap.

 

Ly Phary

COOK

Phary has been cooking for over five years at various restaurants in Siem Reap, including Mission Bar and Khmer Queen Restaurant. Her passion for cooking extends to every style of cuisine, and she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen with new flavors. Phary grew up in Battambang Province.

 

Kha Songim

COOK

Songim joins the EGBOK team as a cook for Spoons. He has 3 years of cooking experience in various properties in Siem Reap including Jasmine Boutique Hotel, Popular Boutique Hotel, and Rambutan Hotel + Resort. At Spoons, Songim will assist in the kitchen with meal preparation.

He is originally from Siem Reap.

 
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Sun Sam Oath

Kitchen Supervisor

Sam Oath is originally from Siem Reap and graduated from Sala Bai vocationl training in cooking. During her studies, she honed her cooking skills at Le Resident Ankgor and Raffles Grand Hotel. Before joining Spoons, she worked as a Cook for Borei Angkor Resort and Spa and Annadya Restaurant & Bar. Besides cooking, Sam Oath has also previously worked with the Apsara National Authority to protect the Angkor sites. 

 
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Soum Rath

COOK

Originally from Siem Reap, Rath graduated from a tourism and hospitality college. Before joining Spoons, he worked at several restaurants in the positions of Server and Cashier.

 
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Hay Samoeurt

COOK

Samoeurt is originally from Banteay Meanchey province. He worked in a number of factories in Thailand for 7 years. Then in 2017 he moved to Siem Reap and joined the Spoons team as a steward and was later promoted to a Cook.

 
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Chhoun Chhet

STEWARD

Before joining Spoons, Chhet worked in the construction and carpentry sector. He is originally from Siem Reap.

 

Som Sophan

STEWARD

Sophan joined the Spoons team in late 2017 after having lived in a local pagoda for several years. Heis originally from Siem Reap and is also currently pursuing short course in electronics.

 
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Dom Sambo

RESTAURANT SUPERVISOR

He is originally from Banteay Meanchey province. After graduating high school in 2012, he went to Ecole D'hôtellerie Et Tourisme Paul Dubrule pursuing vocational training in the field of Restaurant & Bar Management from 2012-2013. He went to Thailand for internship for 2 months. In 2014, he worked as server at Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort for over 2 years and then he was promoted as F&B Captain at their French fine-dining restaurant. for over one year. Sambo joined the EGBOK team in June 2017 as a restaurant supervisor.

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Ly Borey

SERVER/BARTENDER

Borey joins the Spoons wait staff, bringing with him ten years of experience working at Blue Moon Café and Pacific Hotel in Siem Reap. He is originally from Battambong Province and lives in Siem Reap along with his wife and six-year old son.

 
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Sam Saven

SERVER/BARTENDER

Saven joins the Spoons team after several years working in hotels and restaurants including Angkor Miracle Hotel in Siem Reap, and Glorious Hotel and Spa in Kampong Thom Province, where she is originally from. Saven studied at Sala Bai Restaurant School, graduating from the Restaurant Program. She enjoys spending her free time with her husband and five year old daughter. 

 
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An Tola

SERVER/BARTENDER

Tola joins the Spoons team after having built his Food & Beverage skills at Little Red Fox Espresso for the past two years. He grew up in Siem Reap and is always happy to share his favorite places in Siem Reap with the team and visitors alike.  Tola enjoys music, spending time with his friends and chatting with customers from around the globe.

 
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Peng Sokhean

SERVER/BARTENDER

Sokhean joins the Spoons team after several years in the hotel industry in Siem Reap. She is originally from nearby Thnol Ta Seth village, and moved to Siem Reap in 2009 with her sister. She began working at Royal Angkor Resort and Spa, and then after two years moved on to Angkor Palace Hotel and Spa where she remained until joining Spoon. In her free time, Sokhean is an avid tennis player and enjoys spending time with her two sisters who live with her in Siem Reap.  

 
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Chan Sokhak

SERVER/BARTENDER

Sokhak joins Spoons as a waitress after having previously worked in restaurants and travel agencies around Siem Reap. Aside from working at Spoons, Sokhak is pursuing Chinese language studies at Chong San School. She is originally from Kratie Province and moved to Siem Reap with her family at the age of ten. When not at work or school, Sokhak enjoys reading and practicing her Chinese. 

 

Heang Sreyleab

SERVER/BARTENDER

Sreyleab comes to Spoons with over four years of hospitality experience under her belt. Prior to her arrival, she worked in food and beverage at the Royal Angkor Resort and Angkor Way Hotel. She is originally from Kompong Thom Province, and aspires to one day own her own restaurant.

 
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Ran Lek

SERVER/BARTENDER

Lek is originally from Siem Reap. From 2011 - 2015, she was trained in Khmer traditional weaving and sewing skills at Kamonohashi Project. In 2016 Lek graduated from EGBOK's vocational training program and joined Angkor Village Resort as Food & Beverage Service staff. She returned to EGBOK in June 2017 as Server/Bartender at Spoons.

 

Michael Sands

Spoons Operations Manager

Michael Sands has worked in the restaurant industry in Chicago for 32 years. He has worked for leading restaurant companies in Chicago including Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Francesca Restaurant Group, and Goddess Restaurant Group. He has a very strong passion for food and beverage, service, and especially training. As the General Manager of several top restaurants in Chicago, he was very involved in the training of all new front of house staff. In the course of his career he has opened 14 restaurants. His strengths are operations, systems and controls, and service and training.

Michael will lead the planning and implementation of all operational functions of Spoons, while grooming a Cambodian team to successfully run the cafe. Additionally, Michael will work closely with EGBOK's Education Manager and Executive Director enhancing the Food & Beverage training for the students.

 

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Barbara Lang

ADVISORY BOARD CHAIRPERSON

Barbara has over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry and presently operates B. Lang Consulting, a public speaking and professional development coaching business promoting a hospitality mindset – an awareness allowing each of us to be of benefit and service to those who cross our paths. Barbara began volunteering at EGBOK in 2010 and continues today as the chairperson of EGBOK's International Advisory Board.

Barbara holds a Bachelor's degree in Hotel Administration from Cornell University and a Master of Professional Studies in Food Marketing from Cornell University's Department of Applied Economics and Management. Barbara presently lives with her husband and fellow EGBOK volunteer, Dave, in Ithaca, New York.

 
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Annie Place

ADVISOR

Annie’s nine years of experience in the non-profit realm has been primarily focused on fundraising and international development. Her development roles include working for organizations such as Chicago-based Designs for Dignity, fundraising for children’s and women’s rights in New York City with the US Fund for UNICEF and UNFPA, education research in Argentina, community development in Ghana, and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Annie perviously worked with EGBOK from 2010-2013 leading our fundraising and development.

Annie holds a Master of Art’s degree in International Affairs from The New School in New York City and received her Bachelor of Art’s degree in Journalism from Indiana University. Annie is from Chicago, Illinois. 

 

Interested in joining the EGBOK team?