Sreypov Vary, far right, manager of CMAA s youth program, with her team of volunteers
Sreypov Vary, far right, manager of CMAA s youth program, with her team of volunteers

"The most beautiful thing in Cambodia isn't the country - it's the Cambodian people." - Rithy Panh

The Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association of Greater Lowell hosted its 34th annual gala, "A Night in Angkor," on Nov. 3 at Sompao Meas Hall in Lowell. More than 300 exquisitely dressed guests of all ethnic backgrounds enjoyed a night of cocktails and a traditional, five-course, family-style dinner, as well as music, a speaking program including an educational video about the CMAA, awards recognition, a performance by the famous Angkor Dance Troupe and plenty of dancing.

One of the special highlights of the evening was the Community Hero Award honoring Vanna Howard, who was elegantly dressed in a bright lavender, traditional Cambodian Khmer gown. Vanna exudes happiness, always so bubbly, smart, humble, sweet and a personal friend, and has been an aide to U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas since 2008, specializing in immigration, U.S. and foreign visas, U.S. passports and inter-country adoption issues. Vanna, a genocide survivor, fled her homeland as a child to escape the Khmer Rouge. She and her extremely supportive husband, Greg Howard, have two beautiful children, Suzanna and Max, and their dog, Ziggy. Vanna serves on numerous boards and is highly involved in a slew of organizations and charities.

Saum abaarsator (congratulations), Vanna, for making a difference in our community and the many lives you have touched. The CMAA is dedicated to improving the quality of life for Cambodian Americans and other ethnic minority groups.


This single event raised $30,000. For more information, visit