Born in Fresno to Cambodian parents who immigrated to America to seek refuge from the Khmer Rouge, Neary has roots in California, the Pacific Northwest and New England. She is the first in her family to attend college, graduating with her bachelors degree from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Her professional experience includes:
My work in philanthropy started because I felt there was more that I can do for the world. My desire for alignment between actions and values catapulted me from the private sector into the nonprofit space.
This idea of giving back is continuously expanding for me. I’m learning that it has no definition or boundary – we can make an impact not just through our career choices, but through our everyday interactions as human beings. I endeavor to embody this approach of kindness and connection in all aspects of my life because I believe lasting change can only occur through heartfelt interactions.
It’s a privilege to be part of the JBMF team and support the philanthropic efforts of so many diverse organizations and people working towards change in the Central Valley, a place with so much history for my family and loved ones. I am blessed to be in a position that allows me to uplift the voices of people — particularly the voices of marginalized and underrepresented communities that I myself am a part of as a Cambodian-American.
Wellness is a focal point in my life. I strive for balance by investing time and energy in growth — mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. I do my best to lean into challenges, particularly ones that encourage the values of accountability, discipline and creativity.
One of my fondest memories is a surprise hiking trip planned by my life partner, Albert, where we summited half-dome without much preparation or training. I am deathly afraid of heights and despite being out of shape at the time and given only a days notice before our departure, we completed that 16-mile round trip hike in roughly 13 hours. It serves as a lesson and reminder that people are capable of more than they perceive — and that you can accomplish anything if you have the will to go for it. Though I have to give major kudos to my partner for being my rock and source of encouragement when I felt like giving up. So my second biggest takeaway — surround yourself with strong allies.
Outside of JBMF, you can find me helping Albert with his mental health practice, OptiMind Counseling, where I create content to further the conversation about mental health awareness and drive access to available resources.
As an entrepreneur, I encourage and empower women with self-esteem building by using exercise as a medium. I do this as a fitness coach and by writing about wellness through the lens of a female, asian-american perspective on my lifestyle blog.