Mai Nhia Vang, Board Chair and Founder
“I am excited about the possibility of permanently preserving Hmong history and share the ever-expanding history of our heritage.”
Mai Vang is Collections Manager for the Minnesota Museum of American Art. She is a passionate museum enthusiast with extensive experience in collection care and curation, exhibit development, museum education, and grant writing. Mai holds a Master’s of Science degree in Anthropology and Museum Studies Certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. After graduating she founded the Hmong Museum Initiative, which has been her dream for over a decade. Previously she completed a fundraising campaign for the Richfield Historical Society as Executive Director and was Curator at the Minnesota Discovery Center where she successfully designed and managed a permanent exhibit renovation, drastically increased attendance through educational programming, and established professional excellence in collection management.
Chuayi Yang, Board Member and Co-Community Engagement Coordinator
” ‘Deep roots anchor strong trees.’ — I believe a Hmong museum will remind the Hmong community how valuable its cultural storytelling practices are for healing, rejoicing, learning, and reconnecting. A Hmong Museum can provide opportunities and spaces for the community to seek, remember, and fill its hearts with all the narratives that make up the Hmong journey.”
Sandy Lo, Treasurer
“I am excited about preserving Hmong culture, identity, and tradition; educating people, especially youth, about the Hmong culture; and bridging the gap between elders and youth. Hmong Museum is an organization that aligns with my vision and goals of the community. It excites me to see that many others have the same vision and goals as I do, and to know that they are also working to make it into a reality.”
She currently is a student at Hamline University, majoring in Finance. She also is one of the coordinators for the 2017 Hmong National Development Conference and works at Hmong American Partnership. Sandy assisted the We Are Hmong MN museum in 2015 at the Minnesota Historical Society by planning and coordinating events related to the exhibit. Outside of school and work, Sandy enjoys creating music, acting, teaching traditional Hmong dance to youth, and expanding her knowledge of the Hmong culture, tradition, and language by doing independent studies.
Nalie Lee-Heidt, Board Member
“The work Hmong Museum is doing is vital and will have impact on future generations. I am excited to be part of this amazing team–they are passionate, intelligent and inspiring!”
Nalie is an experience designer & strategist. She has over 10+ years as a user experience professional: researching human behavior and designing technical solutions to solve complex problems. Lee-Heidt has experience leading large corporations through digital transformation by focusing on customer needs through journey mapping and customer feedback. As a chief digital strategist on Small Business Revolution, Lee-Heidt helped transform small businesses across America. Lee-Heidt has a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota.
Yeng Her, Board Member
Yeng Her graduated from Brandeis University with his BA in Studio Arts and Education. Her was awarded the Marcia Bloch Epstein ’55 Memorial Prize in Education for demonstrating a commitment to social justice through teaching. Also, was awarded the Robert B. Sherman ’67 Memorial Prize for a strong commitment to enhancing social diversity and cooperation to promoting social welfare through political thought and activism. And was awarded the Susan Mae Green Award for exhibiting excellence in photography. After graduating he received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistance Grant to Thailand, where he taught English in Thailand for a year. Currently, he is part of the Community Partnerships Team at College Possible to ensure low-income and first generation students in the Metro area college access and success.
Koobmeej Lee, Board Member
Koobmeej currently teaches at a Hmong charter school in Minnesota. In addition to his duties educating the young minds of the future, he also is a Hmong interpreter.
Lee Pao Xiong, Advisor
“I am excited at a chance to preserve and showcase our history, culture, and language.”
He is currently the Executive Director at the Center for Hmong Studies at Concordia University. Xiong’s community experiences include being the founder of the Asian Economic Development Association (Formerly known as Asian Development Corporation), co-founder of the Hmong College Prep Academy, Community School of Excellence, the Dragon Boat Festival (formerly known as the Asian American Festival), and the Hmong Resource Fair. Currently, he is the Chair of the Hmong United Martial Arts Society and the Sepak Takraw of USA, Inc.
He is widely sought after as a speaker and trainer by many educational institutions, community organizations, and business groups to speak about Hmong history, culture, and society as well as on leadership and board governance. He is often sought out by filmmakers to provide knowledge content to documentaries and publishers to review books relating to the Hmong experiences prior to publication.
Lee Pao received his Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from the University of Minnesota and his Master of Arts degree in Public Administration from Hamline University. He has recently completed his Doctorate in Public Administration coursework at Hamline University.
July Vang, Advisor
“The Hmong Museum is an important construction for the community as a culturally significant heritage resource. The Hmong Museum will help build and strengthen personal and community identity, and pass onto the future generations.”
July Vang currently provides administrative leadership as Senior Admin Specialist to the Wilder Program of Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in St. Paul, MN. Vang’s extended involvement with local nonprofits includes serving as Board Secretary to Hmong Museum, Board Role to Green T Productions, and Program Advisory Council to Planned Parenthood. She brings in more than a decade of comprehensive corporate and nonprofit operations, process improvement, marketing, and strategic planning. Vang also has a diverse background in theatre and film medium including roles such as Bee in May Lee-Yang’s “Confession of a Lazy Hmong Woman,” Chai Vang’s wife in Investigation Discovery’s TV series of Fatal Encounter, “Terror in the Woods,” and focuses on creating conceptual performances by using insurgent themes relative to sexuality, family structure, and violence – commenting on oppressing themes in our contemporary society. Vang received her BA at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and MBA at Cardinal Stritch University.