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Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.
Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.

2021 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty Honoree: Somaly Osteen

At the upcoming AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event on Aug. 27, Somaly Osteen will be one of the 40 honorees.

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The second annual AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event will serve to highlight and showcase some of the most diverse and impactful young professionals across the Philadelphia region.

At the event, taking place on August 27, 2021, Somaly Osteen will be one of the 40 honorees. She is a community development specialist at SEAMAAC, Inc.

Biography

A Cambodian immigrant to Philadelphia, Osteen is a community development specialist that manages the South Philly commercial corridor along Seventh Street at the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition (SEAMAAC).

She graduated from university in her home country with a degree in business, hotel and tourism management, and went on to work in a high-end hotel for a year.

After that, Osteen got involved in outreach work around a number of issues like children’s rights and raising awareness for HIV before coming to the U.S. with her husband in 2015.

That same outreach work has continued for small businesses in South Philly to this day. Osteen has also been nominated for and won a number of community and city awards in her time at SEAMAAC in addition to the AL DÍA 40 Under Forty recognition.

Here are Somaly Osteen's responses: 

1. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your professional career?

Serving the community is one of the most rewarding parts of my job including challenges and all. Throughout my professional career as a community organizer, educator, and advocator for over ten years, I have encountered different challenges that have helped shape who I am today.

One of the most challenging tasks I have faced was rebuilding the relationship in a diverse community where the trust had been broken. After a few years of hard work, perseverance and being supportive to the community, I have seen changes that took place to reshape and rebuild the community I’m serving. 

2. What steps can be taken to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in your industry? Why is it important to do so?

I view these words having a different meaning but being used to reach one common goal. One main purpose when we talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion is to make sure that every human is receiving what they need to be successful. As a person who works closely within a diverse community, I’ve learned that sustainable development comes with unity, and change starts with the individual. That is the reason why it is important to include the community in the decision-making process. In order to do

this, we need to make sure that we know the community and people we serve, understanding their needs, and be intentional to hear what their needs are. Allowing people to have a space to share, ask questions, learn, and be transparent is important.   

3. What does being a leader mean to you?

Being a leader means being ready to serve and to see other’s succeed over your own needs. A good leader is a good follower and a person who leads by example, not only by their words. A good leader does not give up when issues arise, instead uses criticisms and challenges to grow and rise above the limit that the circumstances might try to keep you in. 

4. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Serving the community has been the focus of my heart. I see myself continuing to work toward serving the community in Philadelphia. While serving the community, I am pursuing an MBA in Organizational Management which I’m hoping to earn in the upcoming years.

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