Xong Xiong, Executive Director
Dr. Xong has lived in the La Crosse area since her family resettled in the United States as refugees in 1987. She holds an Ed.D. in Teaching and Learning from the University of Minnesota Duluth, as well as Master's Degree in Education and a Bachelor's degree in Art and Philosophy and from the University of La Crosse-Wisconsin (UWL). Xong has nearly 14 years of experience working in the field of domestic abuse victim services. She started her work in DV advocacy at the New Horizons domestic abuse shelter in La Crosse, working mainly with women of color. In 2016, she founded Cia Siab, Inc. to continue the DV/SA program for the Hmoob community in La Crosse when the HCCA Board voted to discontinue them. Xong is credited for designing a culturally appropriate DV program model for the Hmoob community in La Crosse County, and is an active and engaged member of the community.
Linda Xiong, Associate Director
Linda completed a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a certificate in Hmong & Hmong-American Studies at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. In her work as a Youth Advocate at the HCCA and Cia Siab, Inc., Linda has been a strong advocate for social justice. She brings the skills she learned by starting a dance program mentoring and fostering a safe space for Hmoob girls to learn about their culture and history to her work with elders. In addition to her mentorship and leadership roles for young Hmoob girls, she wants to critically explore creative ways to preserve Hmoob language and Hmoob epistemology through the integration of elder and youth programming and community organizing in and outside of Cia Siab, Inc. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, especially Hmoob music. Her current obsession is BTS.
Mai Lee, Social Justice Director
Mai’s pronouns are she, her, and hers. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and her Master’s degree in Student Affairs Administration from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Mai has always been passionate about helping others and mentorship; she is also a strong believer in storytelling as a powerful tool of change. She hopes to build spaces that provide opportunities for growth, healing, and transformation for HMoob folx and the community. In her free time, she enjoys reading and exercising her creative brain through art.
Pater Ly-Tong Pao, Sexual Assault Advocate/Coordinator
Before Pater became the Sexual Assault Coordinator, she worked as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for WIC. She has a passion for helping others and it is the core of who she is. Her favorite thing about assisting others is knowing she can make a difference and seeing the various strides of progress in those she supports. Pater also facilitates the HMoob womxn support group, Paj Ntaub Circle, to provide a safe space for womxn and build sisterhood. Outside of work she is a wife, and a mother to five loving children. Her free time is limited, but she enjoys rollerblading, biking and long walks. She also started collecting plants and is now a plant mom to more than 30 green babies. Don’t ask her for their scientific names. She only knows them by the name she’s blessed them with---and that changes daily.
Gao Chee Vang, Youth Sexual Assault Advocate
Gao Chee was an active member of Youth Program when she was in middle and high school. Being part of programming led her to grow a strong passion in advocating for her Hmoob sisters and the Hmoob community. As a Youth Advocate at Cia Siab, Inc., Gao Chee wants ensure safe spaces are created so young girls can be their authentic self. In her free time, she enjoys watching Netflix, k-dramas, and playing video games.
Pelli Lee, Volunteer Coordinator
Pelli has been working with Hmoob youth for over seven years and is very passionate about mentoring and building future leaders. He is married to Joua Moua and they have a beautiful little daughter together named Ariyah. Pelli is currently on the La Crosse School Board. On his days off from work and meetings, he like to go on walks with his family around the Industrial Park area, oftentimes stopping to get ice cream on the way back. Currently, his life revolves around his family, and he is excited to see Cia Siab, Inc. grow because he believes in the people and its mission!
Emily Yang, Community Empowerment Coordinator
Emily (she, her pronouns) was born and raised in the La Crosse, WI area. The peak of Emily’s passion is at the intersection of social justice, the HMoob culture, education, and the youth. Because of those things, Emily is currently a fourth-year student at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse; majoring in Public Administration and minoring in Ethnic and Racial Studies. She hopes that her education in those fields can help her empower others to use their voices to speak out against injustices. Currently, most of Emily’s time is spent with her family. Every weekend, you can find them either fishing, cooking, singing, or reading tarot cards together.
Kaj Sab Lug Lani Xiong, Community Empowerment Organizer
Lani is a Public Health and Community Health Education major at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse. With her most recent experience as a Relational Organizing Intern with Planned Parenthood Advocates of WI, she learned how to organize and advocate for political campaigns, create a vibrant network of organizations and leaders, and do effective civic engagement work with the community. With her public health background, she hopes to help the Hmong community better navigate the health system and help create a healthier community. Outside of work, Lani enjoys singing, eating really good food, traveling, and hearing stories from her elders.
Sam Xiong, Elders Program Coordinator
Before Sam came into this role of Elders Program Coordinator he was a Youth Advocate. He encourages young Hmoob people to grow and reminds them that change is okay. Sam has attended multiple trainings to help him understand oppression and injustices. He has attended the men’s training through Manforward related to masculinity and patriarchy practices that cause harm, as well as training in in support and advocating for the LGBTQ+ community. He continues to work on creating safe spaces where young Hmoob children can go and build relationships and learn. Being part of Cia Siab, Inc. it challenges him dig deeper into the roots of patriarchy and hold himself, along with other men and boys, accountable for their actions.
Yee Xiong, Elders Advocate
Yee graduated with an Associate Degree in Human Services from WTC in 2016 and has lived in La Crosse since winter of 2009. She has four daughters, Serenity, Celeste (, Ademus (pronounced Ah-da-mus), and Rosabelle with her husband, Sheng Vang; including two stepdaughters, Unity, and Alexia. Before working with Cia Siab Inc, Yee worked as a Life Enrichment Staff at the Villa, St. Joseph (retirement home) for the Franscian Sisters Perpetual of Adoration (FSPA) for four years. She had attended a couple of dementia care training and conferences hosted by the Alzheimer's Association. Yee enjoys working with the Elderly population and is looking forward to utilizing her knowledge and experience with the Hmoob Elders Program.
Nancy Yang, Youth Program Coordinator
Nancy received a Bachelor’s of Science in Geography from the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse. As a HMoob womxn geographer, she emphasizes the importance of having a sense of place and belonging, because without it, brave space cannot happen. Her goal as the Youth Program Coordinator is to create that sense of place and belonging for HMoob youth, where HMoob youth can create brave space by speaking to their experiences and learning how to advocate for themselves and others. On her down time, Nancy likes to write and journal, watch skincare videos on YouTube, and sing karaoke (very rarely!). And of course, she enjoys spending time with her family, whether it be shopping, taking walks at the park, or watching movies together.
Der Chang, Youth Advocate
Der's pronouns are she/her/hers. One of her goals for the Youth Program is to create spaces where Hmoob youth can explore their identities while ensuring there's safe spaces of them to express who they are, share their stories and experiences. In her free time she enjoys journaling, writing, listening to music, and spending time outdoors.
Lawfu Yang, Youth Advocate
LawFu Yang is a student at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse studying Organizational Communication and minoring in Sociology. He participated in youth programming throughout his middle and high school years. His involvement in youth programs has allowed him to gain lasting memories, values and a strong sense of community. He looks forward to working with Cia Siab Inc. on providing a safe space for open dialogues and he strives to a positive role model for the Hmoob Youth.
Kou Thao, LGBTQ+ Youth Advocate
Kou’s pronouns are she/her/hers/he/him/his. Kou is a recent high school graduate and will be attending to Western Technical College. Before becoming the LGBTQ+ Advocate, Kou attended youth programming as a youth. Kou identifies as Hmoob LGBTQ+. As Kou faced adversity in the real world, Kou want to share her/him stories to help guide those in need to be empowered. She/he looks forward supporting Hmoob LGBTQ+ youth to use their voice, to love themselves, and to speak up. Other than being a LGBTQ+ Advocate, Kou enjoys making music and fishing morning to night.
Thao Nguyen, Research and Program Development Strategist
Thao Nguyen (he/him) identifies as a 1.5 generation transgender Vietnamese man. He interned for Cia Siab, Inc. in the summer of 2020 and remains on to work on grant writing, program development, research, and mentoring. He is also a second year Ph.D. student in the joint Women’s and Gender Studies and History program at the University of Michigan.
Maij Xiong, Community Resource Advocate
Maij Xyooj graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with an MLIS and MA in Women’s and Gender Studies in May 2017. Trained as a librarian, Maij is interested in the intersection of social justice and library and information science (LIS) as well as approaches for community control and empowerment in LIS. In her free time, she likes to run, travel, and spend time with her niblings.
Jamie Knudson, Office Administrator
Jamie grew up in this area, she currently lives in Onalaska with her family. She has 2 children a son 17, and daughter 15. Jamie has been involved in non-profit work in one way or another for over 10 years through various agencies. She has 17 years accounting experience, with 7 of those being in the non-profit area. Jamie is one of the co-founders of our agency, her passion for numbers and people have been a wonderful asset to our agency. When not working, Jamie enjoys anything outdoors, whether it be fishing, ATVing or just being out in nature. Jamie is also involved in helping her son’s high school soccer team with accounting needs.
Jessica Thill, Program Development Specialist
Jessica (she/her) has lived in the La Crosse area for most of her life, and has worked with Hmoob pre-college and college-aged youth for most of her career. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UWL), and a Master’s of Science in Counseling from Winona State University. She currently serves as a co-Advisor for UWL’s HOPE, the Hmong Organization Promoting Education. Jessica was a volunteer with us before joining the staff, and she finds it very gratifying to help build programs that support Cia Siab, Inc.’s mission.
Khong Xiong, Maintenance Coordinator
Yia Thao, Family Support Advocate