21st Century Leadership
for a 21st Century Arlington
I am an immigrant who first came to America as a war refugee from Southeast Asia in the 1980s.
I am a military veteran who raised his right hand at age 17 to swear an oath to defend this country.
I am a technology professional who has worked on cutting edge projects in IT, data analytics and cybersecurity.
I am a business manager who has led teams, delivered on projects worth millions of dollars and co-founded a new company.
I am a civic leader who spends his lunch hours, nights and weekends out in the community to listen, understand and make the world a better place.
Who is Mr. Chanda Choun?
Hello. I live in the historic, diverse Buckingham neighborhood of Arlington County, Virginia near the Ballston Metro Station and work as a senior business manager and technology professional in both the public and private sectors. I am also a part-time Army Reserve soldier with over 15 years of service, including a deployment to the Middle East and assignments with the 405th Combat Support Hospital, the 450th Civil Affairs Battalion and the United States Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Maryland. My community involvement includes being an Arlington County Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commissioner, Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth & Families Out of School Time Councilmember, Vice President of the Buckingham Community Civic Association, Delegate to the Arlington County Civic Federation, Board Director of Arlington Independent Media, Officer of the John Lyon Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3150, Parishioner of St. George’s Episcopal Church of Arlington and Volunteer in the Arlington Medical Reserve Corps.
But my story begins with being born in a refugee camp on the Cambodia-Thailand border in Southeast Asia and coming to America before the age of 2. My family were survivors of the Cambodian Civil War and Cambodian Genocide in which millions died – a ‘sideshow’ to the Vietnam War. After a decade in the camp, we were chosen to resettle in the State of Connecticut in the United States. My parents arrived with three kids, no money, and no education, but they worked whatever job, whatever wages, whatever hours to provide a basic, peaceful life for their children.
Growing up poor and different in a small New England town was challenging, but finding ways to immediately add value to the community was my singular drive. Singing in school plays, playing on the football team, serving as an acolyte at my church (equivalent of an altar boy), getting elected student class president, and having my name etched in a war monument on the North Haven Town Green is the legacy I leave behind my hometown.
Enlisting in the US Army at age 17 was the next step in giving back to America; the ultimate sacrifice if needed. Getting sent to military bootcamp after high school graduation and successive missions pushed me to South Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Europe, and the Middle East. The skills and experience I gained in the military allowed me to transition into the private sector, where I have now worked in technical and management positions from North Carolina to Indiana to Washington DC.
I first stepped foot in Arlington as a young student in 2006, but I did not receive the job offer and income I needed to move to Arlington County until 2015 to work at the US Department of State’s Office of Cybersecurity in the bustling urban Rosslyn neighborhood. One year later, a tech company recruited me to be their senior business manager and engineering leader for the National Capital Region. In 2019, I transitioned to part-time consulting work and started building a new cybersecurity solutions small business that will majority employ workers in America’s economically underserved areas.
Friends and Neighbors, I didn’t get to choose where I was born or where the Army sent me. But I got to choose where I eventually planted my flag, and that is Arlington, Virginia. Let’s together make a better County, a better Commonwealth, and a better Country.