Photo courtesy of Khmer Girls in Action

A Cambodian-born Long Beach community activist with a history of working with disadvantaged youth of color was honored on a national level for her local efforts last week when she was sworn in to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Lian Cheun, who has been Executive Director of Khmer Girls in Action since 2012, was chosen to be one of several advisors to the President under the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which aims to help facilitate more access to and participation in federal programs among those in the AAPI community.

The swearing-in ceremony May 6 was part of a U.S. Department of the Interior kick-off for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Cheun, who started out as a youth organizer on the Kids First! Campaign, is considered part of the 1.5 generation of Cambodian-American immigrants. She was born in Cambodia and lived in the Thai refugee camp with her family for three years before resettling in the Bay Area and eventually moving to Long Beach. 

Over the years, the community organizer has championed for educational and health justice, worker’s rights and intergenerational healing for not only Cambodians, but migrants from across Asia. At KGA, where she started as the program director in 2009, Cheun has been advancing policies–such as restorative justice solutions for the Long Beach Unified School District–as well as helping train Southeast Asian youth to become social leaders of tomorrow.

Though Cambodians have historically low high school-graduation and higher-education rates, nearly 100% of Cambodian youth who have completed KGA’s programs received their high school diploma and matriculated to college, according to the organization. 

President Obama’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders was established in 2009 and its inaugural commission was formally announced last October. 

Khmer Girls In Action will honor Cheun at the organization’s 10th annual Yellow Lounge arts and culture showcase on Saturday, May 17 from 4PM to 6:30PM at the Long Beach Schools for Adults, 3701 East Willow St. Long Beach, CA 90815.  More information about the Yellow Lounge event can be found at

{FG_GEOMAP [33.8051487,-118.14949530000001] FG_GEOMAP}