Jamie C. Amelio is the founder and CEO of Caring for Cambodia, a non-profit organization directed toward educating children and training teachers in Siem Reap, Cambodia. While vacationing in Cambodia in 2003, Texas-native Jamie Amelio expected to be wowed by the temples of Angkor Wat. Instead, it was a 9-year-old girl panhandling for a few dollars who would change her life.
A few weeks later, Jamie established Caring for Cambodia, which now supports over 6,400 students in 21 schools in Siem Reap. It is run mostly by volunteers. With 4,000 supporters worldwide, CFC guarantees well-equipped classrooms, locally trained teachers, a meal for every student, uniforms, basic health and hygiene care — and often a bicycle.
Jamie is no stranger to helping children. When living in Los Angeles, she served on the Board of Directors of Vistas for Children, and founded Junior Vistas for Children. In both 2005 and 2010 Jamie was awarded the prestigious Golden Hand Service Award by the Cambodian government, and named as a 2010 Classic Woman of the Year by Traditional Home Magazine. She is also the author of Stumpy the Crocodile, a children’s book about helping neighbors in need. After living in Asia for ten years, Jamie, her husband Bill, and their six children now live in Austin, Texas.
Superintendent of Schools and Country Director
Caring for Cambodia
Ung Savy is superintendent of schools and country director for Caring for Cambodia (CFC), a non-profit organization that delivers world-class education to thousands of the country’s children. CFC professionally trains and mentors teachers, and has created and sustained 21 safe, modern, technologically equipped schools.
Savy has served as superintendent of schools since 2003, and additionally as country director since 2006. In this role, he oversees all student programs across CFC’s 21 schools, offering leadership to the school principals and providing opportunities for improvement at each campus to maximize student learning. Savy is also the primary liaison to the Cambodian Government where he has implemented the joint Memorandum of Understanding and has built important relationships with the Ministry of Education. In addition to managing the school principals, Savy directs the deputy country director, the CFC administrator, the executive assistant of programs, and the senior program manager.
Under Savy’s leadership, drop-out rates have fallen to less than 10% consistently since 2010 (currently one-third the national rate), and CFC has continued to forge connections with the Cambodian government, achieving the significant honor of being named the country’s model schools by the Minister of Education.
Savy’s early years were overshadowed by the Khmer Rouge, and from the age of one, he lived in Cambodia’s war-torn conditions. Separated from his parents and family, he was provided with limited food and was forced to work destroying termite mounds and making fertilizer for rice paddy fields until the age of 10, when the Vietnamese army forced Pol Pot from power. At the age of 13, he started school in grade 1. After graduating from grade 6 at the age of 18, Savy joined the Vietnamese army where he started learning English – something that was illegal at the time.
In 1993, Savy was able to use his knowledge to provide translation services to the UN armies upon their arrival in Cambodia. He was also able to return to school to continue his formal education. After relocating to Siem Reap in 1994, Savy obtained a position as an English teacher at Spien Chreav School – now the Spien Chreav Amelio School – and worked as a tour guide in his spare time. Savy stayed in these roles until 2003 when he was introduced to Jamie and Bill Amelio, and accepted the role of superintendent of what was the first of CFC’s now 21 schools.
Since joining the CFC team, Savy has supplemented his education with courses on leadership and English, among others, bolstering his natural ability to guide teams and excel in an international environment.
Savy and his wife Mom live in Siem Reap with their son, born in 2011.
Chief Operating Officer
Caring for Cambodia
Natalie Bastow is chief operating officer of Caring for Cambodia (CFC), a non-profit organization that delivers world-class preschool through high-school education to thousands of the country’s children. CFC professionally trains and mentors teachers, and has created and sustained 21 safe, modern, technologically equipped schools.
Natalie has served in the role of chief operating officer since 2012, when she moved from Singapore to Atlanta with her family. In this role, she directs all volunteer programs, oversees annual events, and raises funds and public awareness for CFC’s vast educational initiatives in Siem Reap. Natalie has worked with CFC since 2007, holding a series of roles of increasing responsibility while living in Singapore. In 2011 and 2012, she served as president of Asia Pacific and Japan, and in 2010 she pioneered the job of volunteer coordinator. Prior to these roles, she served as a volunteer on the Education Committee, for which she later became the chairperson in 2009.
Natalie envisioned and built CFC’s current volunteer architecture. Under her leadership, the volunteer program was initiated in Singapore and has since continued to adapt and grow, enabling CFC supporters around the world to stay involved from anywhere they live and work. Her dedication to CFC and to supporting volunteer efforts has generated a broad base of important relationships for CFC globally.
Natalie’s passion for education began long before she joined CFC. For 13 years, she was a teacher in Ontario and New Brunswick. In her final year of teaching in Ontario, the Dalewood Middle School administration and parents created an award in her honor. The Natalie Bastow Award is bestowed each year to an outstanding student that shows excellent musicianship, leadership and initiative through academic and extracurricular music programs.
In 2012, Natalie received the prestigious Golden Hand Award given by the Cambodian Government for outstanding service and support to the country.
Natalie holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Western Ontario and a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Windsor.
Natalie, her husband and their two children reside in Atlanta, Georgia.
Director of Finance
Lori Soenksen holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration degree from West Virginia University. She is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Prior to joining Caring for Cambodia as Director of Finance, Lori was Vice President of Finance for a private equity company focused on the oil and gas industry and located in Princeton, NJ. In this position, Lori was responsible for all financial aspects for the firm, including financial reporting, payroll, and accounting management. She also managed the office and all contact with vendors, building management and IT set-up. Prior to this, Lori held various accounting roles of increasing responsibility with Medical Broadcasting Company and Kraft General Foods. Her public accounting experience came in earlier years as a senior auditor at Price Waterhouse LLC, Philadelphia, PA. From 2013 through 2015, Lori and her family lived in Singapore where she became acquainted with CFC. She was fortunate to participate in a family service trip during that time and that experience solidified her interest in and commitment to CFC.
Lori and her husband John have three children, and currently live in New Hope, PA.
Lydia Breckon is CFC’s Development Director. Since 2012, she has coordinated CFC’s Fund Development strategies, including corporate and foundation proposals, outreach to individuals through the Annual Appeal and other campaigns, and supporting CFC staff and volunteers conducting events and Personal Fundraising Campaigns. She is currently based on the East Coast of the United States.
Lydia has worked in development for over 20 years, with larger organizations such as International Rescue Committee and Catholic Social services as well as small nonprofits such as Angkor Dance Troupe. In each position, her commitment is to finding and advancing the alignment between donors and those programs that make a real and lasting difference.
She holds a BA from Brown University in Literature and a PhD from Yale University in Anthropology. She has taught at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, as well as at the community college level, and done extensive fieldwork on migration to the US, with a focus on Southeast Asia. Her applied work in this area includes program evaluations and immigrant community needs assessments.
Her longstanding commitment to Cambodia has its origins in her expatriate childhood in Southeast Asia, and is evident in her years of research and advocacy/social service work with Cambodian communities in the US, as well as Cambodian language training.
Deputy Country Director
Caring for Cambodia
Christin Spoolstra is deputy country director for Caring for Cambodia (CFC), a non-profit organization that delivers world-class education to thousands of the country’s children from preschool through high school. CFC professionally trains and mentors teachers, and has created and sustained 21 safe, modern, technologically equipped schools.
Spoolstra has held the position of deputy country director since 2014. In this role, Spoolstra reports to Ung Savy, serving as the central point of communication for the organization on the ground in Cambodia. Spoolstra helps to establish strategic direction and execution of key CFC initiatives and works with CFC’s program managers to strengthen current systems as well as implement new community programs. Additionally, she develops Human Resources policies and procedures, and trains local teams on communication and public relations skills.
Prior to joining CFC, Spoolstra worked with the United States Peace Corps from 2011-2014, where she was stationed in Cambodia. Assigned initially to the English Teaching and Teacher Training Project, Spoolstra taught English at a public high school in Svay Rieng while living with a Cambodian host family. It was during this time that she not only began learning the Khmer language, but also developed a love for her host country and a deeper understanding of Cambodia’s rich culture and devastating history with the Khmer Rouge regime.
After Spoolstra’s initial two-year commitment, she extended her service with the Peace Corps, remaining in Cambodia and serving as volunteer leader. In this role, Spoolstra supported the Peace Corps volunteer programs with resource management, staff development, and volunteer training.
Spoolstra graduated from Albion College in Michigan with degrees in political science and English literature and with a concentration in leadership in public policy and service.
Senior Program Manager
Caring for Cambodia
Sivaing Suos is senior program manager for Caring for Cambodia (CFC), a non-profit organization that delivers world-class education to thousands of the country’s children from preschool through high school. CFC professionally trains and mentors teachers, and has created and sustained 21 safe, modern, technologically equipped schools.
Suos has held the position of CFC senior program manager since September 2014. In this role, she manages the ongoing development of the Gender Equity, Career Prep, and Student Council programs. Through her ability to address complex problems with creative solutions, Suos has improved the female drop-out rate; introduced hundreds of students to career paths previously unknown or considered unachievable; and has helped to develop new life skills in the area of self-sufficiency through a gardening program in partnership with the District Agriculture Department.
Prior to joining CFC, Suos worked as a consultant to Hagar International in Phnom Penh where she provided coaching to those working directly with survivors of trafficking and domestic violence. Previously, Suos held a variety of positions as a domestic violence advocate, case manager and community outreach educator, giving her more than 12 years of experience in the field of human services in Cambodia and the United States.
Suos’s early life and personal experiences are in large part responsible for her career path and her strongly held belief that education is the key to success in all areas of one’s life. Growing up in a rural area of Cambodia called Kompong Chhnang, she and her family had to fight to survive war and violence. Though her family was struggling, they saw the tremendous value in education and Suos traveled almost two hours each way on bicycle to attend school.
Later, after working as a laborer in a sewing factory and as a domestic worker in Cambodia, Suos moved to the United States to follow her dream of helping others. Just 18 years old at the time and with no English language skills, Suos worked hard to continue her education while raising twins as a single mother and pursuing her career in social work.
Suos ultimately returned to her homeland, where she could apply her education and experience from living and working in the United States to help the most vulnerable in Cambodia, making a difference on their behalf.
In addition to her extensive work-related training, Suos holds an associate degree in Psychology from Middlesex Community College in Massachusetts.
Tracy L. Dowell
Regional Director, Asia
Tracy L. Dowell joined CFC as Regional Director, Asia for CFC. In this role, Tracy coordinates several hundred volunteers throughout the region, working closely with committee chairs. She manages fundraising and special events throughout the year, and serves as liaison with CFC’s global management team.
Tracy brings 20 years of operational experience, primarily in the hotel industry. She has worked with industry leaders like La Quinta Inns, Inc., Extended Stay America, and Hawthorn Suites Hotel. This experience equips her with a deep understanding of workplace relations and systems.
Tracy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Business Administration from Eastern Illinois University.
Since 2006 Tracy has lived as an expatriate with her husband and daughter in the United Kingdom, Germany and Singapore. This has taught her to be a highly adaptable and resilient in many cultural contexts and honed her understanding of multicultural business communication.