Board of Directors

KAA Board Members

Sophiline Cheam Shapiro – Artistic Director

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When I was 16 years old, my fellow dance students and I were sent to the countryside in the middle of a civil war to perform for the public in order to help the government prove to the people that it was authentically Khmer.   Read More

The morning after one performance a noodle vendor in the market informed us that Khmer Rouge guerillas had come to our concert armed with rocket launchers in order to kill us.  But they liked the dancing so much that they stayed until the end, clapped and returned home.  It’s not every day that art will save your life, but this story is a reminder of the power art has to bring out the humanity in even the coldest of hearts.  That is why I dance, and that is why I teach.

Mony Thach – President & Interim-Executive Director

Mony ThachMony is a first generation immigrant born in Battambang Cambodia. He resettled in the Ohio with the first wave of immigrants in 1979. He relocated from Ohio in 2005 to California after studying architecture at the Ohio State University. He currently is a Program and Project Manager for a large national construction company. Read More

His most recent work is in the Northern California has been in mixed-use multifamily residential. and many public works including building schools throughout the Bay areas. In his current assignment, he is again working on college campuses and working to renovate a 32,000SF Performing Arts Complex as part of a $348 Million dollar bond program.

Dr. Cheryl Ney – Director

Dr. Cheryl NeyI am thrilled to be joining the KAA board.  I have been a strong supporter of Khmer immigrants since my time as a graduate student in  science  in Chicago in the 1980s. There I offered an English as a second language class to a wave of immigrants who came through the South Side of Chicago through sponsorship by Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park. I also organized social activities with children and youth to visit many sites in the Chicago area.  My first faculty appointment took me to Columbus, Ohio where I formed a lasting bond as “family of choice” with brother and sister, Phon and Soth Uy.  Now in Los Angeles, as the Dean of the College of Education at Cal State LA, Arts and Science education are a major commitment of mine in addition to being a KAA Board member.  I am also the proud grandmother to Brandy Myers and Sansophal Uy, the first born of Soth and Phon, who live with me.  They are both active participants in the KAA….so now we’re making our engagement with KAA a family affair!!

Samantha Hing – Vice Chair

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Samantha currently is a senior consultant based out of the New York City metropolitan area whose main project work focuses on healthcare and the public sector. Samantha spends a lot of her time lending her efforts to the Asian-American community in New York City and has volunteered for organizations such as Cambodian Living Arts. Samantha graduated from Columbia University in 2014 with a B.A. in Statistics. She is a former dancer for Khmer Arts Academy in Long Beach from 2004-2006 and has always been invested in the advancement and preservation of traditional Cambodian dance and Cambodian culture. She is originally from Long Beach, California

Chan Pech Coy – Secretary – Treasurer

ChanAlthough Chan’s background is in real estate for over 10 years, she has always been a supporter, advocate, and patronage of Khmer Arts.  To be chosen to be part of the Board of Director is a humbling and an honor to help foster the younger generation in believing and seeing how rich their culture is.   Not only does she want to see the younger generation participate in Khmer Arts, she also wants to assist the staff in getting the Long Beach community to help bring in the awareness of what Khmer Arts has to the offer the community.

Sotivear Sim

Sotivear Sim

Savong Lam – Director



I am a first generation refugee born in Cambodia.  My family and I resettle in San Jose, CA.  As a youth, I lived in a drug and gang-infested neighborhood where crime rattled my community. During my youth, I was introduced to Cambodian classical and regional folk dances under the instruction of Mrs. Savary Dean, currently the artistic director for The Cambodian Cultural Dance Troupe in San Jose, CA.  It was through dance where I found my safe space to learn, grow and love myself  -this is why I am excited and honored to be part of the Khmer Arts Academy.   It is my goal and commitment to utilize my 10 plus years of experience in driving growth and sustainability in the non-profit sector to help KAA achieve its mission and vision: to improve the quality of life through the Khmer Arts.   I truly believe (beyond the shadow of doubt) that without my instructors and the Cambodian dance programs, I would not be where I am today; a servant leader, enjoying a blessed life with a supportive family, wonderful husband and 4 amazing children.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve!

Malene Sam

 Malene Sam