Our Team

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PA THAO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

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Ms. Thao is a community organizer and an advocate for Hmong womyn and girls. She is deeply involved in the movement to end violence against womyn and children through her work with the international Building Our Future Campaign and the Black & Brown Womyn Power Coalition, Inc. Thao is an experienced nonprofit professional with expertise in capacity building, program development, nonprofit management, and fundraising.

 

From Eau Claire, WI, she serves on local non-profit boards such as the Eau Claire Children’s Museum, the Chippewa Valley Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. the Eau Claire School District Hmong Parent Teacher Association and the Chippewa Valley Montessori Charter School Parent Group. Thao also serves on the Budget Committee of the Wisconsin Governor's Council on Domestic Violence and the Attorney General Sexual Assault Response Team.

 

She is the recipient of the 2021 United Bridges Award, the 2019 Volume One Vanguard Award, and the 2016 Eau Claire Children's Legacy Outstanding Award. Thao was also recently recognized by members of the Wisconsin Senate with a Citation by the Senate for her courage, resilience, and outstanding champion for all. Thao graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI with a Bachelor of Social Work and completed her Master of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016.

 

She is a proud mother to five children and enjoys gardening and spending time with her family.

 

Thao can be reached via email at pa@bbwpcoalition.org

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PAKOU THAO, POWER UP EAU CLAIRE LEAD ORGANIZER 

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Pakou’s passion for helping Hmong women started from a young age. She witnessed the challenges and difficulty her single mother faces because she is a woman.  Pakou believes that women can achieve anything if they set their mind to it.  Her past experiences volunteering at the Women’s shelter confirmed that a women can thrive when she is given the chance and a safe place to have a voice.  

 

She graduated from Chippewa Valley Technical College with an associate in Paralegal/Legal studies in 2019 and is currently enrolled at the University of Stout. 

 

Pakou lives in Eau Claire, WI with her husband and daughter.  She enjoys photography and spending time with families.  

 

She can be reached via email at pakou@bbwpcoalition.org

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CIA SIAB VANG, ADVOCACY PROGRAM DIRECTOR

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Growing up Vang was always surrounded by Hmoob womyn who were breaking gender norms. Over the years her passion to fight for justice has grown due to the amazing womyn of color in her life. They’ve shown her that this is something we must do, to survive and to thrive in a society that is against us.

 

She’s an ambitious Hmoob womyn, who’s invested in empowering her community and fighting for liberation.

Vang can be reached via email at ciasiab@bbwpcoalition.org

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RACHEL PRIDE, OUTREACH PROGRAM COORDINATOR

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Pride can be reached via email at rachele@bbwpcoalition.org

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MIREYA SIGALA, OUTREACH PROGRAM COORDINATOR

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Sigala can be reached via email at mireya@bbwpcoalition.org

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KABZUAG VAJ, PRESIDENT

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Kabzuag was born in Laos and come to this country as a refugee child with her mother and siblings. She is founder and co-executive director of Freedom Inc. She has dedicated the majority of her life to ending gender-based violence. Her advocacy started when she was 16 years old, assisting and housing at-risk teens, and challenging abusive gender norms within her community.

 

She is a strong believer that those who are most deeply impacted must be at the forefront of the movement. Those who are most impacted must have opportunities and resources to advocate for themselves and tell their own stories. In the past 20 years, Kabzuag has spent her life working to build collective power and social change within Southeast Asian and Black communities.

Kabzuag is also a co-owner/founder of Red Green Rivers, a social enterprise that works with Artisan makers, most of whom are women and girls, from the Mekong Region in Southeast Asia. She also is a co-founder of Building Our Future, a global community campaign that works to change traditional practices, behaviors, and beliefs that contribute to gender-based violence within Hmong Families while building the leadership of women and girls.

 

Kabzuag is a daughter, mother, artist, and organizer. Her first love is the movement. She can be reached via email at kabzuagvaj@gmail.com.

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M. ADAMS, VICE PRESIDENT & SECRETARY

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M. Adams is a community organizer and co-executive director of Freedom Inc., where she has been for eight years. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Adams has been in Madison since 2003. Adams’s dad has been incarcerated most of her life and she comes from a community that has been the extreme targets of police violence—and in March 2016 Adams’s mother transitioned after fighting cancer and many forms of violence. Adams, herself, also a dad and has her family as a primary motivator for her work. 

 

As a queer Black person, Adams has developed and advocated for a strong intersectional approach in numerous important venues: Adams is a leading figure in the Take Back the Land Movement, she presented before the United Nations for the Convention on Eliminating Racial Discrimination, the co-Author of Forward from Ferguson and a work in progress on Black community control over the police, and author to intersectionality theory in Why Killing Unarmed Black folks is a Queer issue. Most recently, Adams can be seen in person, on TV or in the newspapers giving near weekly presentations, testifying at city council meetings, and energizing crowds at protests.

M can be reached via email at adams4730@gmail.com

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ANN VAJ, TREASURER

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Ann Vaj is the coordinator for the Hmong Family Strengthening Program at CAP Services in Stevens Point, WI. Vaj focuses on addressing domestic violence in the Hmong community, provides leadership training for new advocates, and challenges and educates others to provide better services for Hmong victims and survivors. Vaj’s role also supports Sisterhood, a Hmong girls group focused on youth leadership and social justice activism.

 

In April 2019, Vaj was elected to the Stevens Point School District on a platform of investing in students and teachers to better address the complex needs of all students, including students of color and other neglected populations within the schools.

Vaj grew up in Stevens Point, graduating from Stevens Point Area Senior High School in 2003. She earned her associates degree in Supervisory Management at Mid-State Technical College.

Vaj lives in Stevens Point with her husband, Tou Xiong Lee, and their six children. She is a self-described foodie with a passion for cooking.

Vaj can be reached via email at ann.vaj04@gmail.com.

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TAMMIE XIONG, BOARD MEMBER

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Tammie Xiong currently serves as the executive director for the Hmong American Women’s Association (HAWA) in Milwaukee. HAWA continues to be one of the very few advocacy organizations in the country dedicating all of their resources to support Hmong women and girls, especially those impacted by gender-based violence.

 

She also serves as the current chair for the Viv Ncaus: Hmong Women Giving Circle. It is the first Hmong women giving circle in Wisconsin that has also been nationally recognized by the Asian American Pacific Islander in Philanthropy for their commitment to community-based social justice work. Tammie also has experience in working with Asian refugee/immigrant communities in Milwaukee and developing their capacity through teacher professional development, parent training, literacy development, and social justice advocacy. She holds an M.S. in adult education and program planning.

 

Tammie can be reached via email at tammie@hawamke.org.

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MARKASA TUCKER, BOARD MEMBER

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Markasa Tucker-Harris is the Executive Director of the African American Roundtable (AART), a project of Hmong American Women's Association, a nonprofit that advocates for social justice. She joined the AART in 2014 as a member while joining the grassroots efforts of Dontre Hamilton's family. Hamilton was murdered in April 2014 by a Milwaukee police officer.  Her grassroots organizing experience aligned her with more deeply engaging with the community and became the co-chair of the African American Roundtable in 2016.  After helping to develop an initial platform of work for AART and funding opportunities, she was promoted to director and in 2021 promoted again to executive director. 

Her love and passion for people and justice grounds her as she helps to lead the coalition of community leaders and organizations that works to improve civic engagement, with a focus on organizing people to build power. In 2019 she helped co-found the LiberateMKE campaign, asking for investment into communities and an equitable city budget. 

Tucker also has a background in media relations that included working on the assignment desk at WISN and CBS 58 along with her time at 620 WTMJ as a radio producer.  She is a former member of the National Association of Black Journalists and served as secretary and president of the Wisconsin Black Media Association. Tucker has her bachelor or arts degree in mass communications from Grambling State University where she graduated Cum Laude and is the president of the GSU Alumni Milwaukee Chapter. She is also the founder of The Alternative, Inc a Christian arts and community engagement organization. 

 

Tucker resides in Milwaukee with her supportive husband Terrell Harris and talented daughter Zoe Isabella.

 

Markasa can be reached at markasa1109@gmail.com.

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LINA JURABE BOTELLA, BOARD MEMBER

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Lina Juarbe Botella is a social and human rights activist with more than 20 years experience working to end violence against all women and girls. Lina currently serves as Director of Community Engagement for A Call to Men. She is responsible for community partnerships and outreach, and works closely with schools and organizations to implement A Call to Men’s Live Respect Coaching Healthy, Respectful Manhood curriculum, of which she is a co-author.

 

Juarbe Botella has a diverse and rich background, and describes herself as a community organizer and builder. She received the Living Legend Award for community organizing and her work against racism. She also received the Voices of Courage Award for her advocacy and leadership working alongside clergy sexual assault survivors. She received the Unsung Heroes award for her commitment, service, and leadership in the Latino community. She is the proud mother of eight beautiful children.

 

Juarbe Botella was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and is located in the Midwest. 

She can be reacheded via email at linajuarbebotella@gmail.com