Wisconsin’s 40 Most Influential Asian American Leaders, Part 5


    This is the fifth of a five-part series. Part One is here, Part Two is here, Part Three is here and Part Four is here.

    Nancy Saevang is director of the Waisman Early Childhood Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, leading a staff of 17 caring for about 100 children aged 12 months to eight years. She started there 10 years ago as an undergraduate student in human development and family studies. She signed on as a full time teacher in 2016 and has since worked her way to the director role.

    William Xiong is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator for both Wilson Middle School and Einstein Middle School in Appleton. He came to Appleton after 10 years in the classroom in Milwaukee Public Schools. He earned his bachelor’s degree from UW-Oshkosh and just last year earned a master’s degree from Concordia University. He also runs a summer youth volleyball camp for Asian girls in Appleton.

    Maidoua Thao is a Residential Engagement Manager at Madison Gas & Electric. Through her role, she connects with low income/underserved communities to engage about energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy conservation. She often translates and interprets for elders and those who have a language barrier. Through workshops, community engagement, and volunteering her time, Maidoua has become a recognized leader with the Hmong community. She was recently named the Hmong woman of the year by Hmong American Friendship Association in Milwaukee and named the Transformational Leader in Madison by the Wisconsin Hmong Association. She received both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from UW-Whitewater.

    Fanni Xie is owner of Uni Uni Bubble Tea in Appleton, a business she started in 2021 to bring Asian popular culture to the area. As an Army Reservist she was deployed to Afghanistan where she worked as a behavioral health support specialist, supporting the mental health of combat troops. She went on to earn a master’s degree in social work at UW-Green Bay. Noticing a lack of diversity and inclusion in the area, she took entrepreneurship classes at Fox Valley Technical College and launched Uni Uni, which she describes as an immersive cultural experience. Xie also revived the nascent Northeast Wisconsin Chinese Association, organizing a Chinese New Year festival and a Dragon Boat Festival later this year. 

    Naomi Takahashi is the director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at the UW–Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Health, where she supports DEI program expansion and strategic development. She joined SMPH in 2018 after two years as race and gender equity manager at the YWCA Madison and five years as a field faculty associate in the School of Social Work. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wesleyan University and a master’s from UW-Madison.

    Anindita Anaam is Communications & Public Engagement Manager for the mayor’s office in the City of Appleton. She has previously served as a communications manager for a fintech company and the Oconto Unified School District. She is also a classic Indian dance performer and teacher, and a member of the board of directors of the National Dance Education Organization. She holds a Master’s degree in political science with an emphasis in international relations from the University from Delhi. She also holds a Master’s in communications and public relations from the Indian Institute of Mass Communications. 

    John Ludwig is founder and owner of Riley’s Sandwich Company, a dog-friendly lunch spot in Shorewood, and Riley’s Social Club, a dog-friendly lunch restaurant (named after Ludwig’s own 15-year-old dog) with an adjacent bar in Milwaukee’s Third Ward, where they also host live music and other events. The Shorewood location opened in 2021 and the Milwaukee spot just a year later. Ludwig already had 25 years in the hospitality industry, including six years as a Cheesecake Factory general manager, when he and his wife both left their corporate jobs to launch Riley’s. They were nominated for Best Sandwich, Best Sub-sandwich and Best Pet-friendly Establishment in the Shepherd Express Best of Milwaukee awards. Their CBR Sandwich, an organic chicken breast sandwich with bacon, housemade ranch, avocado, tomato, cheese and lettuce, was chosen as the September Dish of the Month in Milwaukee Magazine. Ludwig also serves on the board of the Shorewood Business Improvement District.  Born in Seoul, South Korea and found in a phone booth as an infant, Ludwig was adopted and came to Red Wing, Minnesota at the age of 2. He and his wife now live in Whitefish Bay.

    Dhondup Tsering joined the Dane County Sheriff’s Office in May of 2018. He currently works on the Dane County Airport contract detail. Dhondup’s journey within the Sheriffs Office began in the Security Services Division, where he spent three years working in the jail. During this time, he was a booking deputy and trained new deputies. Dhondup has successfully completed the Leadership in Police Organizations program as well as Crisis Intervention Training, acquiring valuable techniques to handle critical situations and provide assistance to individuals in crisis. Outside of his primary duties, Dhondup dedicates his time as a part-time Boat Patrol Deputy and has also volunteered his services for the Dane County K-9 Unit for the past four years, serving as a decoy. Dhondup is an active member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) at both the national and local levels, serving as treasurer of the local chapter. He also serves the community as a volunteer wrestling coach at Madison East High School.

    Who’d we miss? Email [email protected] to let us know who should make the list next year!