Episode 40: Ancient Dance Emboldens Youth’s Future

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For 30 years, Angkor Dance Troupe has been a creative youth development leader in Lowell, MA, a city with the second-largest Cambodian population in the United States. Angkor connects families to what it means to be Khmer, gives young people opportunity, and shares beautiful stories of the Khmer people and their cultural heritage.

Linda Sou was there from day one. At the age of three, she began her training with Angkor Dance Troupe and would grow up to become its executive director. She shares what it means to preserve and share a nearly-lost art form.

Linda Sopheap SouLinda Sopheap Sou finds tremendous pride in the City of Lowell and champions efforts around youth development, community coalition building, and cultural preservation and innovation. A daughter to Cambodian refugees, Linda was born and raised in Lowell and currently resides in the Centralville neighborhood with her partner, Steven Flynn.

Ms. Sou is the Senior Director of Strategy and Innovation for Lowell Community Health Center and is charged to design, direct, and manage processes for innovation and strategy development that lead to new growth and innovative opportunities for the organization.  She is responsible for leading the creation of organizational and team level strategic and project plans, and for designing and implementing a process for incorporating board and staff participation in the planning process, as well as methods for ensuring accountability and organizational learning.  Ms. Sou is proud to return to Lowell CHC as she previously served as the Director of Teen BLOCK programs for nine years where she worked with a team of youth development specialists developing young leaders in Lowell.

Most recently Ms. Sou served as the Chief of Interpretation and Education for two years at Lowell National Historical Park, National Park Service. In this role she is served on the park’s senior management team, working collaboratively with park partners, and a critical organizational link between the actions of staff in the field and strategic park planning. Linda worked to establish and sustain partnerships with community and academic institutions. She also led and supported the planning, development, and implementation of the park’s interpretation and education programs. Linda was charged with updating the Lowell NHP planning documents, park interpretive themes, and to develop community engagement strategies and programming for Lowell’s diverse communities.

Linda also served the Angkor Dance Troupe Inc. in multiple capacities including, Board President and part-time Executive Director. The mission of the troupe is to connect communities through the preservation, education and innovation of Cambodian Performing Arts.

Linda completed her graduate studies at Springfield College – Boston Campus with a Master’s of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management. Linda also graduated from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) with a BA in Sociology, with a double minor in Social Work and Criminal Justice.

Ms. Sou was also a lead subject in the documentary film, “Monkey Dance” by Julie Mallozzi which has been screened throughout the United States to raise awareness on intergenerational challenges facing Cambodian youth in Lowell, MA.

Excerpt from “Monkey Dance” by Julie Mallozzi

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