Wisconsin’s 48 Most Influential Asian American Leaders, Part 3


    This is the third of a five-part series. Part one is available here and part two is available here.

    Christine Liu McLaughlin of Milwaukee is a shareholder and chair of Godfrey & Kahn’s Labor & Employment Law Practice Group. She provides counsel to business management on a wide variety of employment and labor issues ranging from interpretation and application of federal and state employment laws to specialized employee transition matters in complex business transactions, including management of day-to-day employment matters, drafting and enforcing restrictive covenant agreements, advising on and defending state and federal discrimination claims, and advising and conducting internal investigations. Christine also has extensive experience in evaluating and drafting federal and Wisconsin state affirmative action plans, as well as advising on compliance reviews. Christine has conducted workshops and seminars on various employment law topics in Wisconsin, as well as nationally. Christine has been recognized in Chambers USA, Best Lawyers and Wisconsin Super Lawyers. Further, Christine was named to the Women of Influence list by The Milwaukee Business Journal and to the Women in the Law list by the Wisconsin Law Journal. 

    Dr. Maysee Herr is the newly-appointed executive director of the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce. As executive director, Dr. Herr leads her team in providing economic and developmental assistance in business planning to communities in Wisconsin, focusing on Hmong and Southeast Asian communities. Prior to her role at HWCC, Dr. Herr was an assistant professor of education at UW-Stevens Point. She has also held extensive leadership positions, serving as a member of board of directors for multiple nonprofits, including Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin and Marathon County Diversity Affairs Commission. Dr. Herr earned her Master’s and Ph.D. in education at Indiana University-Bloomington and received her Bachelor’s at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

    Peng Her is the Community Relations Coordinator for UW Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty, and the director of the Hmong Institute. Prior to this position, he was the Associate Director for Center for Resilient Cities and VP of Promise Zone and Partnerships at Urban League of Greater Madison before that. Peng has worked with officials, residents, and service providers to remove barriers to success for 15 years. He helped establish Hmong American studies at UW–Madison and Edgewood College and was associate director of the Center for Resilient Cities. He is on the Morgridge Center Advisory board, Badger Rock Middle School board, and several other boards in the community.

    Yee Leng Xiong is a Marathon County board supervisor, a trustee in the Village of Weston, the clerk for the D.C. Everest Area school board and executive director at the Hmong American Center, Inc. (HAC) in Wausau. The non-profit HAC was established in 1984 to assist in community integration as well as economic and social advancement of Southeast Asian refugees in the Wausau-Marathon County area, according to HAC’s website. He is recognized as a statewide leader of the Hmong community, and dedicates himself to bringing Hmong voices into local government.

    Abha Thakkar of Madison is the Executive Director of the Northside Planning Council and Editor of the Northside News. She is also a co-founder of the East Attendance Area PTO Coalition, the Dane County TimeBank, the Grassroots Leadership College and the Northside Farmers market. She is a consultant, trainer and lecturer in the areas of relational community organizing, leadership development, capacity-building and international development. She founded and has managed a national nonprofit service-learning program that connected US students with children living in orphanages and refugee camps and as part of that work traveled to 40 countries between 2007 and 2011. She is also a programmer, technology trainer, web developer and writer. Abha received the 2006 Visionary Award from the Madison Social Justice Center. Born in India, she moved to Wisconsin with her family when she was a child. She earned a bachelor’s degree from UW–Madison in political science, international relations, global cultures and integrated liberal studies.

    Jessica Boling was recently the director of community engagement for the Asian American and Pacific Islander Milwaukee 2020 host committee. In her role, Boling has an opportunity to bring various Asian communities in Milwaukee together for the Democratic National Convention, which is happening mostly online due to the pandemic. Boling has also held other community engagement roles at firms like P3 Development Group and Silicon Pastures, and has said that her background is central to who she is personally and professionally. Boling graduated from Seattle University with a Bachelor’s in international development and went on to earn her Master’s in social work from Boston College.

    Nkauj Nou Vang-Vue has been the principal of Lake View Elementary School since July 2018. She is the Madison Metropolitan School District’s first Hmong American principal and oversees the district’s only bilingual Hmong-English immersion program. Before serving as principal of Lake View, Nkauj Nou was the Assistant Principal at Glenn Stephens Elementary School for three years. She also has a background in social work, working as a School Social Worker for Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools for almost five years. Nkauj Nou received a Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2007,  a Master’s in Social Work in the School Setting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008, and another degree in Educational Leadership from Viterbo University in 2014. 

    Alex Tran is a Brown County Supervisor, becoming the first woman of color voted to the Brown County Board in 2018. When Tran was elected she had no political experience and was a manager at Duke Marine Engineering Consultants, Inc. Since taking office she stood against Christian prayers before board meetings, guided an advisory referendum on legalizing marijuana and kept the promise of not becoming a career politician. The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that Tran is not seeking reelection. Tran came to Ashwaubenon in 1983 as a 10-year-old refugee who fled Vietnam after she and her father escaped from a prisoner of war camp. 

    Houa Xiong is associate dean of students at UW-Oshkosh. In this role, she aims to help guide students with the questions or concerns and connect students with appropriate campus resources, according to UW-Oshkosh’s website. She has been working in academic services at UW-La Crosse and UW-Fond du Lac since 2000.

    Pa Lee Moua is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer for the Appleton Area School District. serving more than 16,000 students. She became the first person to hold that position when it was created in 2018. Pa Lee has more than 15 years of professional experience in education, community engagement, and diversity and inclusion, including as Associate Dean of Students for Diversity Affairs at Lawrence University. She was born in a refugee camp in Thailand.  In 1984, at the age of 5, she along with her family arrived in Fresno, CA.  They later relocated to Wisconsin to be closer to family. 

    Part 4 coming tomorrow!