Empowering a New Generation of Leaders in the Developing World

Overview | History | Board of Trustees | Administration | Governance | Board of Advisors


The founder and chair of the board is Alan Lightman. Dr. Lightman is a physicist, novelist, essayist, and educator. He has held professorships at Harvard University and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was the first person at MIT to occupy a joint faculty position in both the sciences and the humanities. More information about Dr. Lightman can be found at his website.

Alan Lightman

Alison Pavia

The executive director is Alison Pavia. Alison comes to the Harpswell Foundation with over 20 years of experience working in the non-profit, corporate and legal sectors. She was most recently the Executive Director of the Peter C. Alderman Foundation, a non-profit working in global mental health which trains indigenous health workers and establishes trauma treatment systems in post-conflict settings (including Cambodia, Uganda and Kenya). Prior to joining PCAF in 2009, Ms. Pavia was the founding Executive Director of ReServe, and has worked as a consultant with Living Cities, the National Community Development Initiative. She began her career as an attorney at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and at Pavia & Harcourt, specializing in international corporate and banking law. She serves on the boards of ReServe and the Riverdale Neighborhood House, serves on the Advisory Board of Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity of Hunter College, and is a trustee of the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. Ms. Pavia has a JD from Columbia Law School and BA from Brown University, where she majored in History and Chinese language. She has worked and traveled extensively, and is fluent in French and Italian. She is married to Franz Paasche, and is the mother of three daughters. Alison can be reached at alison@harpswellfoundation.org.

Veasna Chea

The honorary associate director is Veasna Chea. Overcoming great odds, Chea was one of very few women in Cambodia to receive a law degree (from the Royal University of Law and Economics) in the 1990s and graduated with honors in her law-school class in 1997. In 2005, she received a masters degree in sustainable development and conflict transformation from the School for International Training, in Vermont. In the period 1999-2002, she worked as Trust Funds grant manager and as technical support to local NGOs at the UN Commission on Human Rights in Cambodia. In 2001, she cofounded the Cambodia Arts and Scholarship Foundation. She has also had senior positions at DFID and IFRC, and she has consulted for numerous NGOs in Cambodia. In 2005, Chea and Alan Lightman conceived of a dormitory and leadership center for women in Cambodia. For more of her inspirational role with Harpswell, see History. Chea can be reached at veasnac@gmail.com.

Varony Ing

The senior manager of the Harpswell Foundation and our top staff person in Cambodia is Varony Ing. Varony also serves as the manager of our Dormitory and Leadership Center for University Women at Teuk Thla, Phnom Penh. Varony has a Bachelor's of Science in electrical engineering from the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC) and a Masters in public administration from the University of North Texas in Denton Texas, USA. She has many years experience in working with international organizations to improve the quality of life in Cambodia and is especially committed to the empowerment of women. From 1986 - 1992, Varony was deputy chief of the Statistics Office of the Ministry of Industry, Energy, and Mines; from 1992 - 1996, she was administrative manager of the Cambodia Development Resource Institute; from 1996 - 2000, she was project management assistant for USAID/Cambodia; from 2003 - 2006, she was program assistant to the World Bank in Cambodia; from 2006 - 2009, she was monitoring and evaluation officer of Hagar/Cambodia; and from 2009 - 2010, she was programming manager of Hagar. (Hagar is an international organization that rescues women and children from violence, abuse, and trafficking and empowers them to be strong members of their communities.) Varony is on the Board of Directors of the Cambodia Rural Economic Development Initiatives for Transformation (CREDIT) microfinance institution. Varony can be reached at varony@harpswellfoundation.org.

Sophal Som

The manager of the Harpswell Foundation Dormitory and Leadership Center for University Women at Boeng Tabaek, Phnom Penh, is Sophal Som. Sohpal has a bachelor's degree in Archaeology from the Royal University of Fine Arts. As Vocational Skills supervisor at Hagar International/Cambodia, from 2004 to 2008, Sophal managed a staff of 12 people. More recently, she was the assistant for program development at Hagar. (Hagar is an international organization that rescues women and children from violence, abuse, and trafficking and empowers them to be strong members of their communities.) At Hagar, she has worked in everything from financial reports to teaching vocational skills to counselling families in desperate conditions. She has also worked with the Urban Sector Group to develop and administers surveys of people living in the slums of Phnom Penh. Sophal can be reached at somsophal73@yahoo.com.

Leaphea Yang

Harpswell’s Program Director is Leaphea Yang. Leaphea Yang is a Class of 2011 Harpswell Alumna and as Program Director, Leaphea will be responsible for the student leadership program at Harpswell. She will help inspire the students to become leaders, help them to manage their academic and personal development, and ensure the quality and effectiveness of Harpswell’s in-house academic program. She will also work closely with the Leadership Residents. Leaphea will live at the Teuk Thla dormitory. Leaphea graduated from Royal University of Law and Economics with a degree in law in 2011. Leaphea’s many accomplishments since her time at Harpswell include receiving a one-year scholarship for post-graduate studies in the US, working as a gender trainer in the NGO Gender and Development for Cambodia, and serving as Cambodia’s principal organizer for the international One Billion Rising event. Leaphea has worked for the last two years as a legal advisor for HBS law firm in Phnom Penh. You can read more about Leaphea here: http://bit.ly/1KL8zJJ We hope that you will join us in welcoming Leaphea, and in celebrating this exciting new phase in Harpswell’s development.

Mira Weisenthal

The director of leadership residencies is Mira Weisenthal. Mira received her BA from Wells College and worked as a project manager in New York City before joining the US Peace Corps in 2009. She was sent to volunteer in Cambodia, where she became acquainted with the Harpswell Foundation and later served with the organization as a leadership resident in 2011. Since completing her Peace Corps service, Mira has returned to the U.S. and is currently pursuing an advanced degree in Organization Change Management and Social Entrepreneurship at the New School for Social Engagement in New York City. Mira can be reached at mira@harpswellfoundation.org.

Maggie Doyle

The Coordinator of Harpswell - U.S. Fellowships is Maggie Doyle. Maggie received a B.A. from the University of New Hampshire, and a M.A. from Northeastern University in Global Studies and International Affairs. Maggie's introduction to the Harpswell foundation was in 2009 when she was a Harpswell leadership resident. Maggie lives in Boston and works in theatre. She is also an international maternal health advocate and is pursuing her DONA certification for Doula care. Maggie can be reached at maggie@harpswellfoundation.org.

Jannetta Dodson

Jannetta Dodson joins the Harpswell staff as Media Coordinator and is very happy to be a part of the important work of the Foundation in empowering women. Jannetta worked for non-profits for the homeless community, in media, graphic design, and communication roles for many years, where she won awards in newsletter editorship and graphic design. She also has run a freelance media, graphic design, and consulting business of her own for over 15 years and is actively involved with the local Civitan Volunteer Organization (volunteering in the special needs and disabilities community) as the Information Technologist for the Great Southwest District.. Jannetta lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with her husband and five children ages 12, 18, 20, 31 and 40. Jannetta can be reached at jannetta@harpswellfoundation.org.

Tum Yousos

The director of Cham programs is Tum Yousos. Yousos administers Harpswell's primary school, high school scholarship program, and adult education program in Tramung Chrum, which is a Cham (Muslim) village. Yousos grew up in Sreybrey village, Orrussey commune, in the province of Kampong Chhnang, about 15 miles from Tramung Chrum. Yousos received his bachelor's degree in computer science and engineering from ASEAN University in 2006. Yousos has worked on a number of projects to preserve Imam San Cham culture (a form of Islam) in Cambodia and has helped administer grants from the US Embassy to promote human rights and democracy training.

Elyse Lightman Samuels (right) and Son, in Tramung Chrum

Elyse Lightman Samuels is the officer of special projects. She received her AB degree from Brown University and an MFA in creative nonfiction from Columbia University. She has studied and helped document many of the cultural, religious, and social practices of the Imam San Cham. Elyse initiated the adult education and high school scholarship programs in Tramung Chrum. In early 2008, she organized a trip of American publishers and literary agents to Cambodia to begin the establishment of a PEN Center in Cambodia and the consolidation of literary activity in the country. She initiated a sewing course for a young woman who works at a garment factory so that she can eventually open her own shop in Tramung Chrum; she has overseen beginning steps towards a moto-bike repair training course and shop in the area of Tramung Chrum; and she has conducted a needs assessment survey and planning for a health clinic in the area of Tramung Chrum. More about Elyse's activities and experiences in Cambodia can be found at her blog site: elyselightman.wordpress.

© The Harpswell Foundation 2008
last revised 9/12/16