Wisconsin’s 48 Most Influential Asian American Leaders, Part 2


    This is the second of a five-part series. Part one is available here.

    Kashoua (Kristy) Yang is a Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge.  She was elected to a six-year term in 2017, becoming the first Asian American in Wisconsin elected to the judiciary without an appointment, and the first woman of Hmong ethnicity elected to the judiciary in the United States. Prior to ascending to the bench, she was in private practice in the areas of family law, worker’s compensation, and social security disability.  Some of Judge Yang’s community service and involvement have included: Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic, legal clinic for Hmong speakers, mentoring high school students, and Legal Options for Trafficked and Underserved Survivors.

    Dr. Pafoua (Pam) Her is currently president and owner of 4Chi Business Solutions and an Adjunct Professor with Rasmussen College in the School of Business.  She has taught marketing, professional communication, principles of management, entrepreneurship, sales, finance, and ethics. Dr. Her currently serves as an adviser to the NEW Hmong Professionals Group and Central Wisconsin Hmong Professionals group, vice president of Vue National Association, and a member of the board of directors for CAP Services, Inc.  Previously, she served as an adviser to the Hmong Wisconsin 18 Clan Council and has been on numerous boards such as United Way Fox Cities, American Red Cross-Outagamie County, Fox Valley Literacy Council, and the Fox Cities Community Foundation.  She has advised the Wisconsin State Supreme Court on interpreters in judicial proceedings as well as NEW North on recruiting and retaining diverse talent. Dr. Her has received numerous recognition such as recipient of the Fox Valley Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, WISCAP Exceptional Advocate of the Year Award, and the Rasmussen College Exceptional Educator Recognition.

    Renee Moe is President and CEO of United Way of Dane County, a leader in the worldwide United Way network and across the nonprofit sector. Charity Navigator recently recognized United Way of Dane County in the top three percent of U.S. nonprofits. A military kid who grew up on the three continents, Renee has a JBA in Journalism and Mandarin Chinese, and an MBA from UW-Madison. She has been recognized with the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award, Wisconsin Women of Color Network Power of Unity Award, Brava Woman 2 Watch, UW Business School 8 Under 40, and served as President of Downtown Rotary.

    Fanfu Li, the current president of the Wisconsin Chinese Chamber of Commerce, has for many years had a hand in promoting business development for the Chinese community in Wisconsin. As president, Li works to service its members, specifically on functionality and the advantages of non-profit organizations. Outside of the Wisconsin Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Li is the International Business Development Director at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. There, he works to promote economic growth in Wisconsin. Li earned his MBA in international business from the University of South Carolina, a Master’s in packaging from Michigan State University and his Bachelor’s degree in engineering from Hefei University of Technology in China.

    Gabe Javier, originally from St. Louis, Missouri, and the son of immigrants from the Philippines, was appointed as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in December 2019. Gabe oversees the Multicultural Student Center, Gender and Sexuality Campus Center, International Student Services, McBurney Disability Resource Center, and University Veteran Services, all of which were previously under the Division of Student Life. Prior to this position, Gabe served as the Assistant Dean and Director for the University of Wisconsin Multicultural Student Center. Before joining UW-Madison’s faculty as an Assistant Dean of Students and Director of the LGBT Campus Center, Gabe served as Interim Assistant to the Dean of Students in the Office of the Dean of Students at the University of Michigan which is where he received his Masters in Higher Education Administration in 2006. 

    May Yer Thao is assistant deputy director of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), where she utilizes her business development experience and strategic relationships to expand WHEDA’s mission in underserved communities. She also represents WHEDA on the Governor’s Council on Mental Health. Before being appointed to this role by Gov. Tony Evers in 2019, she was the executive director of the Wisconsin Hmong Chamber of Commerce, where she deployed the highest number of business microloans statewide in the organization’s history, leveraging over $10 million in total loan funds and expanding the organization’s statewide footprint. She has served in leadership of Ascension Lutheran Church and on the boards of the Milwaukee County Parks Foundation, MKE United, Havenwoods Economic Development Corporation, and more.

    Erik Kennedy is senior community relations coordinator at Advocate Aurora Health and co-founder of ELEVAsian, an organization launched in 2017 to highlight and elevate Asian Americans in the Milwaukee area. Previously, he worked as a volunteer and Leadership Development Coordinator for the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee. In that role, he worked directly with students and local organizations to create volunteer and job opportunities. Kennedy is also an advisory committee member for FUEL Milwaukee, a professional networking organization. Kennedy graduated from Bowling Green State University.

    Pat Wongkit brings enthusiasm and perspective to all that she does as program director of the Northport and Packer Learning Centers on Madison’s north side where she has worked passionately for the last 25 years to deliver quality programming focused on education and employment. The centers serve over 400 youth and families who qualify for rental assistance through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Renewal’s Section 8 Housing Program. Wongkit has built and sustained relationships with important community partners such as the Madison Metropolitan School District, Dane County Human Services, City of Madison, The River Food Pantry, Extended Hands Pantry, Northside Partners and other community organizations to benefit neighborhood residents. In addition, each semester, she supervises service-learning students from Madison College, UW-Madison Department of Afro-American Studies as well as summer practicum students from the UW-Madison School of Education. Wongkit was twice awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Obama.

    Arvind Gopalratnam is the Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for the Milwaukee Bucks. He is a native of the Milwaukee area, a proud graduate of UW-Madison and George Washington University and a lifetime Wisconsin sports fan. As a member of the Bucks community team, Arvind helps lead the organization’s mission to make the place in which we work and play a better place for all families to live. Arvind is currently in his third season with the Bucks after spending 11 years in corporate communications for NBC Universal and General Electric’s Healthcare business. With GE, Arvind developed extensive experience in the Sports and Healthcare industries as a corporate spokesperson, manager of crisis communications globally, coaching senior-level executives on communications tactics and developing internal and external communications strategies.