December 2007 marked the first of several trips Blackstone’s Mary Anne Citrino would make to Cambodia. The occasion celebrated the opening of a school which she funded together with her husband and three children, Cheyenne, Dillon and Colter. Construction of the Dicheycol School began in April of the same year, in Ang Krong Village, located just two hours north of Phnom Penh. Continued support from the Citrino family ensures the education of the village’s boys and girls through middle and high school. The school is made up of 8 classrooms, 3 teachers and 123 students.
A school research project written by Mary Anne’s daughter Cheyenne was the catalyst for the family’s efforts in Cambodia. Later, through persistent monitoring of the school, Cheyenne noticed that male students heavily outnumbered female students. She discovered that a majority of the girls in the village were being sold by their impoverished families rather than being sent to school. Through American Assistance for Cambodia (AAfC), Cheyenne helped to fund the “Girls be Ambitious” program to prevent the trafficking of Cambodian girls for sexual and labor exploitation through an incentive program for girls from poverty-stricken homes. As a result of its success, a majority of the girls from Ang Krong village now attend school and the program is no longer necessary.
In addition to her support of the Dicheycol School, Mary Anne’s work in Cambodia continues through financial sponsorship of a Microfinance program aimed at helping former slave laborers rehabilitate and re-enter society through entrepreneurship. The program was developed in partnership with the Somaly Mam Foundation, whose organization has helped rescue and rehabilitate thousands of women and children in Southeast Asia.
The Dicheycol School was built in partnership with AAfC. AAfC was founded in 1993 by American journalist Bernie Krisher, former head of the Newsweek and Fortune Tokyo bureaus. AAfC's largest project, the Rural Schools Project, has helped build more than 470 enriched primary and lower secondary schools in rural Cambodia since 1999.
Mary Anne Citrino is a Senior Managing Director in Blackstone Advisory Partners L.P. Since joining Blackstone in 2004, Ms. Citrino has advised a broad range of clients in the consumer products industry including Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods and Nestlé. Ms. Citrino received a BA in Economics from Princeton University, Phi Beta Kappa, and received her MBA from Harvard Business School as a George F. Baker scholar. She is a Director of Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., as well as Health Net, Inc.