In alignment with Women’s History Month, the Hmong community came together on Friday, March 31, 2017 to celebrate and honor the lives, accomplishments, and contributions of eight successful Hmong American women. This event was hosted by both Hmong American Legacy, Inc. and United Hmong American Women, Inc.
The event took place at the Sisavangvathana Hall which hosted not only a large number of local members from the Hmong community but also an impressive guest list of speakers. Bo Nhia Lee, who is a real estate and business reporter for the Fresno Bee, served as the Master of Ceremony for the evening.
Other noteworthy appearances included keynote speakers Mai Yang Vang, who serves as a Sacramento City School Board Trustee, and Steve Ly, who was recently elected as Mayor of Elk Grove. Both spoke about the importance of recognizing the perseverance and accomplishments of various Hmong American women that have paved the way for future generations.
There were eight women honored at the event in which the awards fell into two different categories. The Victorian Award Honorees included Choua Thao, Lilly LyFoung, Mai Yia Lo, and Maiko Thao Lee. The Princess Warrior Award Honorees included Geena Ly Cha, Laura Lo Xiong, Mai Doua Vang Lee, Neng Lee, and Xiamy Ly-Yang. The women were welcomed to the stage where they were presented various awards, certificates, and gifts to honor their lifelong accomplishments.
Jeannie Lee, who is a Fresno State student majoring in Criminology and minoring in Psychology, served as the assistant event coordinator for the banquet and shared about her experience. Her efforts included, but are not limited to, contributing ideas, promoting the event, seeking out sponsors, helping set up, handing out the awards, and articulating a speech which all played a vital role in the overall success of the event.
“I am so glad that I got to help put this banquet together and be a part of it. It is extremely important to me, as a Hmong American woman that I honor the Hmong women before me who have paved a path that I will journey through to achieve my own goals and dreams.”
She also reiterated how important this event was for her as both an individual and in the greater context as a member of the Hmong American community.
“As a Hmong American woman, this event was extremely important to me because I stand with women empowerment in the Hmong community. I think the idea of women empowering each other is incredibly vital to the culture of society. This event is important to me because it was one of the first event that recognized and honored specific Hmong women in the community who have made an impact and contribution to the community. It’s important that we recognize Hmong American women are not just daughters, wives, daughter-in-law’s, sister-in-law’s, or mothers but also independent, strong-willed, educated, influential and powerful individuals.”
Jeannie also encouraged others, especially individuals who attended the event, to see the value and importance of the event’s message and significance for the Hmong community moving forward.
“I want this event to inspire young females and males to continue to create events like this to recognize and honor people in the Hmong community for their perseverance to achieve their own dreams. I hope that in the future, I see specifically, Hmong women who have navigated the waters in their professions or in society to encourage and inspire young Hmong females to also navigate themselves to be comfortable in their own skin or age, to always aspire to pursue a higher education, to embrace their peculiarities, to voice their own opinions and to become proud to wear power as well as share that power with others.”
Photo by Justine Cha