It’s not every day that there’s a holiday celebrating the greatness that’s women. #InternationalWomensDay is celebrated in almost every country in the world except for America– surprise! Not only should you acknowledge the great women in your life right before your eyes; but learn from the inspirational shakers and movers in our community who have blazed trails and opened pathways for others along with them. You may be lucky enough to know some of them and even luckier to have worked with them. These are women who have done inspiring work to lift their field and communities with them and we know they’ll continue to put us in awe throughout 2018. This isn’t an exhaustive list and no particular order, but it’s a great teaser.
Keep watch, Lao America.
Catzie Vilayphonh runs Laos in the House out of Philly doing cultural productions and storytelling. She’s a spoken word artist who was half of the now-retired badass duo, Yellow Rage.
Channapha Khamvongsa leads Legacies of War out of DC, pressing our top officials to up the budget and aid Laos to clear the country of leftover bombs; and making the whole world, including President Obama, aware of the Vietnam War era legacy.
Elizabeth Loddy Tolzmann serves as director of policy & planning out of Ramsey County in Minnesota. She’s also an immigration attorney taking on pro-bono cases with asylum-seekers and advocating for bomb clearance in war-torn countries.
Kulap Vilaysack is an actor, screenwriter, producer, director, and one of the only few Lao Americans based in LA. She also ran Bajillion Dollar Properties, and is running the newly created Laos Angeles advocating for Lao Americans in the entertainment field.
Linda Simthong is an organizer, educator, and founder of School of Jai based in North Carolina; leading workshops, multicultural coalition-building, and community healing through spiritually-based practices.
Nang Nonnarath is a women’s rights activist and social worker based in Portland, working with domestic violence survivors and bringing awareness to human trafficking in Laos to the national level.
Dr. Phitsamay Sychitkokhong Uy is a professor at University of Massachusetts – Lowell and has been part of SEARAC and many other community organizations mentoring and lifting young Southeast Asian women in higher education.
Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a playwright and poet based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, who has premiered award-winning plays such as Kung Fu Zombies vs Cannibals; bridging the intersections of taboo issues through theater.
Dr. Sousada Chidthachack is a STEM educator at University of Minnesota and works with refugees and immigrants on increasing math proficiency and access to STEM careers. She currently is the Assistant Principal at Ascension School.
Thouni Seneyakone leads Run VTE, hosting the first half marathon in Vientiane capital, promoting healthy living within the Lao community while raising the bar on the generosity of Vientianites to social causes in Laos.
Obviously there’s more than just these 10 Lao women–because Lao women run this world and we need to shout it out Laod. I’ve had the honor to work with many of these women. Who are the women in your life you’re celebrating with today? Share their story with us.
—Chanida Phaengdara Potter, firstname.lastname@example.org