Hmong community leaders share thoughts on education, economy and politics

Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/customer/www/ on line 16
Warning: Undefined variable $style in /home/customer/www/ on line 10
September 4, 2020

A woman sits by a window.

Since taking her post as executive director of the Minnesota Hmong Chamber of Commerce, Yao Yaj has helped Hmong businesses navigate coronavirus relief funding and rebuilding after the spring’s unrest.
Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal
Minnesota’s Hmong community has grown and changed since the first Hmong refugees arrived in the Twin Cities in the 1970s.

In 2020, you’ll find multiple Hmong members of the state Legislature, a college prep charter school in St. Paul that specializes in meeting the needs of Hmong students and hundreds of businesses owned by Hmong men and women — so many that they have their own chamber of commerce.

But Minnesota’s Hmong community still lags behind other groups when it comes to household income, and discrimination and misinformation about the ethnic group persists.

MPR News host Angela Davis talks with three leaders in Minnesota’s Hmong community about education, the economy and politics and what’s being done to address remaining disparities.


  • Yao Yaj is executive director of the Minnesota Hmong Chamber of Commerce.
  • Cecelia Lee is director of counseling and student services at Hmong College Prep Academy in St. Paul.
  • Rep. Kaohly Her is a DFL member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, representing District 64A.
May Yang-Her
Author: May Yang-Her