Meet a Connector: Anna in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

by Celeste Hamilton Dennis on May 1, 2014

When Anna McKeon moved to Cambodia from the UK three years ago, her connecting powers multiplied.

“I’ve always been something of a connector, and that’s especially true in Cambodia,” the nonprofit communications consultant says. “Working as an expat you quickly become a point of contact for new people arriving in a country, or for visitors passing through. I enjoy introducing like-minded people.”

Anna’s also one of those people who’s linked to a variety of groups. A singer in her spare time, she has contacts in the music industry as well as at hotels and restaurants. With her job, she’s always in need of writers and designers, and stays in regular touch with different nonprofits and social enterprises.

“I enjoy meeting new people and am always happy to take some time out for a coffee, or send a few emails to introduce people,” she says. “I also try and be pretty open about my experiences in Asia – I believe in sharing mistakes I’ve made, so that other people can avoid doing the same!”

For Anna, transparency and a collaborative mindset are two things that make the Idealist Network most appealing.

Living in Phnom Penh, Anna can’t help but want to do more with the abundant resources around her. The city is home to a number of socially responsible for-profit initiatives and tech start-ups led by young Cambodians, for example.

It’s also a hub for large aid organizations as well as smaller nonprofits. In Anna’s opinion, real change can happen here because there are so many decision makers in one place.

The challenge? The greatest need isn’t in the city, but in the rural areas where most organizations tend to run their projects.

“This is good and bad—as it’s easier for people to make powerful connections here, but equally Phnom Penh is not representative of the majority of Cambodia, nor of the challenges that many people face in their daily lives,” she says. “However, it’s a very positive, dynamic place to be”.

With the Idealist Network, Anna hopes to make more connections happen throughout Cambodia, and has a particular interest in helping to facilitate responsible volunteerism.

So far she’s exchanged messages with another Team member and is hoping that when her workload lightens she can devote more time to the Network. But one of her work projects right now—where she’s connecting people from faith, travel, education, and corporate communities —is priming her for the Connector role.

“Neutrality is really about not judging others’ choices, and I think that is always important! So I’m getting quite a lot of practice,” she says.


Live in Phnom Penh? Join the Team! Live elsewhere? Look for a Connector Team near you or start one of your own.


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