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Thursday, September 29, 2022

St. Paul Hmong leader chosen for Biden’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans

KaYing Yang, a Hmong refugee and policy director for a St. Paul-based advocacy organization, was sworn in on Thursday to President Joe Biden’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

KaYing Yang (Courtesy of Ramsey County)

The virtual ceremony took place at noon, followed by an inaugural meeting and six-hour conference call with the White House. Yang joins at least 22 fellow members of the commission, which will advise the executive branch on ways the public, private and nonprofit sector can combat anti-Asian discrimination and support Asian-American communities.

The commission will focus on seven program areas, ranging from grantmaking to tracking hate crimes.

“I want to lift up this office, and Asian American concerns and contributions,” said Yang on Thursday.

She said she’ll continue to advocate, both locally and nationally, that government bodies stop treating Asian-Americans as a monolith and study the needs of specific communities. Yang was one of the lobbyists behind the “All Kids Count” Act, which won state Legislative approval in 2016 and requires the state’s school districts to track the performance of at least 23 of the state’s most populous ethnic communities.

“Sometimes when you look at aggregate data, it appears Asian students are outperforming all racial categories,” Yang said. “But when you disaggregate the data, Hmong students, Karen students are not doing as well. You need language-appropriate programs to address the disparities. There are still needs within the subpopulations.”

Yang, a 2019 Bush fellow who came to the US as a refugee at the age of seven in 1976, has spent 30 years in advocacy.

She was recently the director of programs and partnerships for the St. Paul-based Coalition of Asian American Leaders in Minnesota. She began her career as a community organizer and social services manager with the Women’s Association of Hmong and Lao, and later served in the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, the International Organization for Migration and the International Finance Corporation.

World Nation News Desk
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