Board Members



Pa Der Vang, Chair of Investment Committee (2017-Present)

Dr. Pa Der Vang is an associate professor at St. Catherine University/University of St. Thomas School of Social Work and a cofounder of Hnub Tshiab. After completing her degree in Sociology from UW-Madison, she received her Masters and Ph.D. in Social Work from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. She practiced as a clinical social worker for 8 years before starting her teaching career. She has experience in adult mental health, domestic violence, children’s advocacy, county program planning, youth and adult mental health crisis, and group therapy. She has published articles on the effect of teenage marriage on Hmong women and cultural change among Hmong in America.  Her current research is on Hmong Americans and the effects of acculturation. She is the coordinator of the Critical Hmong Studies Minor at St. Catherine University.


Kao Ly Ilean Her, Board Member (2007 – 2017), Board Chair (2017-Present)

Ms. Her is the chief executive officer of the Hmong Elders Center, an adult day center serving Hmong seniors in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area. She is responsible for the administration and operation of the center, providing vision, passion, and guidance to a growing program area of service and need.

Ms. Her comes to this role having led and worked in a variety of organizations in government, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors. As the former executive director of the State of Minnesota Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, Ms. Her was at the forefront of establishing legislation, policy, and programs to address the critical needs of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Well versed in the legislative process, public policy, and civic engagement, Ms. Her is power broker in building the dynamic and thriving Asian American and Pacific Islander community in Minnesota.

As a champion of community voice and civic engagement, Ms. Her has been a staunch advocate of the nonprofit sector and its vital role in empowering and growing leadership in ethnic and underserved communities. She has founded several non-profits, Allies for Mentoring Asian Youth, Hnub Tshiab: Hmong Women Achieving Together, and the Heritage Center for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

She has served as a trustee of the Minneapolis Foundation, the Asian Pacific Endowment of The St. Paul Foundation, and Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. Ms. Her played instrumental roles in establishing the Hmong Women’s Endowment at the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and the Chad Vua and Bee Her Fund at the St. Paul Foundation.

Ms. Her is a graduate of Hamline University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and the School of Law, University of Minnesota.

Cindi Yang (2015-Present)

Cindi Yang, director of Community Partnerships and Child Care Services, Children and Family Services, joined the department in August 2015. She oversees Child Care Assistance, Child Development Services and the Office of Economic Opportunity. She leads work to promote the well-being of children and self-sufficiency of families by delivering quality child care, child development and economic support services to children and families.

Prior to beginning her career with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Yang served as the director of Programs and Public Policy at Neighborhood House, a partner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, that operates diverse programs to help stabilize the lives of Minnesota families and break the cycle of poverty. Yang was also a Community Faculty professor at Metropolitan State University’s department of social work.

Currently, Yang is a sitting board member of Hnub Tshiab: Hmong Women Achieving Together, a social change nonprofit working for the vitality and health of the Hmong community, raising up the value of Hmong women, cultivating them as leaders and seeking solutions that improve the lives of Hmong women and girls. She co-founded the Minnesota Hmong Social Work Coalition, creating a space to develop Hmong social workers as leaders in their field. Fluent in Hmong and English, Yang has been an active member of numerous charities and organizations across the Twin Cities.

Gao Thor (2015-Present)

Gao Thor is a current junior in her undergrad at Macalester College. Psychology major and Educational Studies and Religious Studies minor. Gao is the Capacity Associate for the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation’s Youth Leadership Initiative, a multicultural youth leadership program that provides young people the opportunity to build skills and qualities needed to be agents of change in their community. She has over 5 years of experience in tackling issues in her community through youth leadership development, facilitating dialogues around personal narratives, and facilitation training. Gao was a recipient of the Davis Projects for Peace grant of $10,000 where she designed and facilitated program with young Hmong women about personal narratives in Minnesota and Laos to address gender equity in Hmong community. She is passionate about closing racial and ethnic disparity gaps, and promoting empowerment among communities that have been historically discriminated against.

Leona Thao (2016-Present)

Leona Thao is an Evaluation Specialist with Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS). She supports the district’s equity framework and ensures that MPS has equitable policies, practices, procedures, and budgets.

Leona joined the board of Hnub Tshiab: Hmong Women Achieving Together in 2016 and brings not only her passion for gender and racial justice but experiences in evaluation and public policy. She relocated to Minnesota from Oklahoma in 2013 and graduated from Hnub Tshiab’s Hmong Women Leadership Institute Program in 2014. Leona earned a BA in Business Management in 2012 from the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University and MA in Public Policy in 2016 from the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Ma Xiong (2017-Present)

Ma Xiong is a Corporate Compliance Associate Analyst with Allianz Life Insurance Company.  She is passionate about empowering girls of color to lead their own lives and contribute to the success of their communities.  Ma received her J.D. from Mitchell Hamline School of Law and her BA from the University of St. Thomas with majors in both Entrepreneurship and Legal Studies in Business. She has experience in the non-profit, legal, and corporate sectors.

Chee Lor (2017-Present)

Chee Lor is a Hmong women born in a Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand, she is raised in Saint Paul Minnesota and has her master in social work from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. There are many issues that she is passionate about including empowering Hmong girls and women to be the leader they want to see and enabling them to be their most authentic selves in reaching for their dreams.

She is an alumni of Hnub Tshaib’s Hmong Women Leadership Institute in 2017 and has found her calling in doing work that would support and lift other Hmong girls and women much like herself.

Yer Lor (2017-Present)

Bio coming soon.

Jewelly Lee (2012-Present)

Jewelly is the Assistant Director of Student Employment and Leadership in the Center for Community Work and Learning at St. Catherine University. She manages two of their center’s programs, America Reads and Assistantship Mentoring Program. As the Assistant Director of Student Employment and Leadership, she oversees the hiring and training of student employees.  In addition, Jewelly works closely with community organizations and schools to ensure student employees are receiving a meaning work experience. She enjoys cultivating young leaders and giving them opportunities to make change happen in their community. Jewelly has a Bachelor of Art in Women’s Studies and Sociology from St. Catherine University.