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William Yang, Volunteer Coordinator

William Yang of Hmong National Development

The Hmong have had a long history, and though they have often been persecuted and forced to relocate throughout the centuries, they have been successful as a group in places such as America. Hmong National Development (HND) is an organization dedicated to the support of the Hmong community in America through education and engagement. HND helps to promote and support individuals and organizations with various resources to address issues of the community while also promoting community activity at large. Its hope is to foster “a vibrant Hmong American community leading in educational achievement, economic development, civic and cultural engagement and social justice.” Find out more about HND in this week’s Non-Profit Spotlight.


Hmong National Development


March, 1993



Name, Title

William Yang
Volunteer Coordinator




Kansas City, Kansas

Current residence

Washington, DC


University of St. Thomas, Teacher Certificate, 2001;
Pittsburg State University, Fine Art, 1996.

Work Experience

Hmong National Development, Volunteer Coordinator,2006;

Midwest Players Club, Associate Director, 2002-2006;

Brown College, Academic Outreach Ass.,2005-2006;

Hennepin Technical College, Retention Liaison,2002-2003;

St. Paul Public School, Teacher, 2001-2002;

Center for Hmong Arts and Talents, 2000-2001;

Neighborhood House, Youth Worker, 1999-2000;

Hmong American Partnership, Youth worker, 1997-1999



About the non-profit

Our Mission: Hmong National Development, Inc. (HND) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to building capacity, developing leadership and empowering the Hmong-American community.

Our Vision: HND envisions a vibrant Hmong American community leading in educational achievement, economic development, civic and cultural engagement and social justice.

Our Values: HND board and staff model the following values in their work on behalf of the Hmong community:

We promote the well-being of the Hmong community in a positive and respectful manner that builds community. Our advocacy work promotes full civic engagement of community members by creating safe and important forums that enable individuals to speak courageously about their own realities, needs, and desires. Our programs and services are accountable and deliver results that engender self-respect, pride, and economic security in the community. As such, we recognize that our staff are resources. They are treated well, and we support their professional development. We are focused and assertive about achieving our goals. Our work is intended to build a better future for our children.

What We Do: We strengthen community by developing and providing individuals and Hmong non-profits with resources, training, and technical assistance that enable local communities to achieve lasting social benefits. As the only national Hmong organization in Washington, DC, we advocate on issues of importance to Hmong Americans. We train and develop youth leadership to build capacity for the next generation of Hmong leaders through the provision of internship opportunities. We also help build a strong foundation for the community by supporting the higher education dreams of Hmong students through the provision of scholarships. Annually, we convene the Hmong National Conference and provide regional trainings to bring professionals, community members, youth, and decision makers together to network, share, and learn about the community’s challenges, as well as to celebrate the community’s accomplishments. We collaborate and partner with other national and local organizations in a variety of ways to better serve our community

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

I oversees the Hmong National Conference, includes; press release/media package, sponsorship/funding, booth/exhibitors, silent auction/individual donations, Website updates, HNC evaluation, Art show, and work with a committee group at the site that deals with the following: volunteer, workshops, keynote speakers, registration, special events, communication, logistics, and pre-conference. Way too much for one person.

Most notable milestones

The Hmong National Conference
Each year, HND hosts a Hmong National Conference that embodies our mission and goals by bringing together professionals, community members, politicians, scholars, businesses, youth, and decision makers to network, share, and learn about the community’s challenges, as well as to celebrate the community’s accomplishments.

This event increases the capacity and civic participation of those in attendance through discussions and workshops on the current state of the Hmong community and issues that will be critical to future community development. The Hmong National Conference is the only event of its kind that focuses on community, professional, and leadership development for businesses, youth, and community members. The location of the conference changes annually, as HND strives to reach its entire constituency across the country.

In addition to the educational benefits, the conference provides networking opportunities. Best practices are shared, successes and challenges are discussed, and new partnerships are formed. The Conference is planned by utilizing a holistic team approach made up of HND staff, two Conference Chairs (consisting of an HND Board Member and community leader), and the Advisory Committee (which consists of respected community leaders).

Over the course of the three-day conference, various events are held which build capacity, educate attendees on Hmong issues, and honor those who have worked so hard for their communities. A Banquet is held where awards are given out to honor officials, youth, entrepreneurs and individuals who have made a demonstrable impact on the Hmong community. At Plenary Sessions, keynote speakers from varying backgrounds and expertise speak to conference participants on topics relevant to the conference theme. Affinity Group/Networking time is provided each day for individuals with similar interests to gather in a less formal setting to discuss topics of common interest.

Approximately 60 workshops are held on topics ranging from advocacy and civic participation, organizational and professional development, to business and educational leadership and current research and scholarly works. These sessions help mobilize the Hmong community to become more active in the civic process, ensure that Hmong scholarly works increase and are beneficial to the community, and encourage partnerships and collaborations among diverse people working to improve the lives of new Hmong Americans. Workshops strengthen the ability of Hmong businesses and non-profit organizations to prosper in their local economy, address successful program models for children, families, and elders, and focus on important community concerns and accomplishments. Workshop presentations come from organizations, universities, outreach groups, service providers, educators, researchers, policy makers, youth, business representatives, government officials, media representatives, extension services, community leaders, and other individuals interested in improving Hmong communities.

Since the first conference, attendance from disciplines has increased, the quality/quantity of workshops has been enhanced and participation from states outside of where the conference is being held has increased. The 2006 conference, entitled “Leadership for Tomorrow”, was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and brought together over 1,000 individuals from across the United States. This conference was a comprehensive journey into the different dimensions of leadership that gave attendees the knowledge and skills to return to their communities, workplaces, and families ready to make a difference and develop environments where leaders can be effective.

The 12th Hmong National Conference, to be held in Detroit, Michigan from April 13-15, 2007, will address the process of cultivating a vibrant Hmong culture in the United States. Participants will engage in meaningful discussions about Hmong culture that will promote understanding and respect for the diverse array of inter-generational, gender, economic and intellectual perspectives that exist in the community. Conference workshops will provide the creative and comfortable environment necessary for discourse and growth in cultural understanding. Within the safe and inclusive venue of the conference, participants will learn leadership and civic skills that will help them understand and bridge cultural gaps in a respectful manner while communicating their concerns about the Hmong community.

What’s the niche?

For the past thirty years the story of Hmong America has been about meeting the needs of immigrants and refugees in a new country. For the next thirty years the story of Hmong America will be about empowerment to realize the individual and collective aspirations of our people.

Standing up for our values and shared concerns requires active and unwaivering participation in the democratic process and through public policy.

HND will focus its energy over the coming years into building a strong voice before Congress and the Executive branch. Like many segments of American society we face generational change and with it calls for the leaders of tomorrow to get experience today. Work with a research institution and local MAAs to conduct research: —What motivates Hmong to give or not give to causes?
—Current giving campaigns and philanthropy
—Develop staff capacity of MAAs to conduct their own research
—Typical donor profiles

Develop and test effective educational materials and messages Provide training to MAAs for administration of volunteer and giving programs.

Deliverables: Research report, communications plan, PSA and Philanthropy video, Donor Workshops

What’s the biggest challenge?

Financial strains have always been a challenge for the non-profit sector; however for HMAAs this challenge is magnified because of the lack of human capacity and other resources to explore all possible funding resources. Additionally, because of multiple barriers faced by its constituency, who continue to seek services from HMAAs regardless of funding, most HMAAs perform services above and beyond what they receive funding to do. This adds to the HMAAs struggle to find sufficient financial support for their all their services. The number of staff (includes all full-time and part-time positions) correlates to organizational budget size.

What’s in store for the future?

Hmong Organizations Need:
Technical Assistance (Board development, organizational development, program development and evaluation, staff development, bookkeeping, office management etc.), research data, cultural relevant training, help in unifying their voice at the federal level, assistance in transitioning from a current MAA to another Hmong serving organization, fund raising to attain sustainability and grant writing.

Leaders and Emerging Leaders Need:
To know about fundamental leadership skills: community organizing, assessment of their skills, mutual respect & compromise, training in self-improvement as a professional, honesty and integrity, professional code of ethics, conflict of interest, salesmanship or effective communication. They need opportunities to lead, internships, and role models. They need to learn about social enterprise and how to advocate for visionary work and how to drive to make it happen. Leaders need to be recognized for their leadership and have financial assistance or scholarships available to them.

Vision of Success:
As a result of HND’s work Hmong communities are self sustaining, economically and politically. Hmong community knows what it needs, they knows what HND will do, and the results of their effort. Traditional and American leaders respect each other and they are success working together. Politicians who have questions about Hmong know they can turn to HND which has visibility, accessibility, sustainability, flexibility and is pro-active.

Grand Strategy Statement:
HNC will focus on meeting the needs of Hmong organizations and leaders by developing programs in leadership, family dynamic/ mental health and advocacy. Hmong organizations and leaders will in turn provide these programs directly to individuals in the community. Corporate and individual fund raising is critical to providing these services.

Who would you like to be contacted by?

HND’s primary audiences are Hmong Organizations, leaders and emerging leaders (political, business, education, professional). HND serves the community through Hmong organizations and leaders who provide direct service to individuals.

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Best way to keep a competitive edge

Stay true to your mission and the people you serve. Find people who share the same passion and get them involve with your organization. Advocate on behalf of your organization when out and about, always advertise, never know who is listening. I think the number one thing we forget when we work for non-profit is how to make a profit. Think business.

Individually, be like the Boys Scout’s motto, always be prepared. I have always believe that the more you educate yourself the more you will be ready to serve and understand the challenges ahead.

Guiding principle in life

The four D’s to your dreams. Desire, dedication, determination and discipline. You have to know what you desire (passion) the most, dedicate yourself to that desire, be determine about getting what you desire (sacrifices) and without discipline you can’t maintain a well balance plan to reaching your dream. But the most important guiding light is my believe in Jesus Christ. Philippines 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

Yardstick of success

Standing up for our values and shared concerns requires active and unwavering participation in the democratic process through public policy change and in developing resources to create opportunities. HND believes the community must act as one to speak up on behalf of the Hmong. HND is working with local Hmong organizations, businesses and individuals as part of a grassroots network that channels and amplifies the Hmong voice in Washington on behalf of critical issues facing the Hmong Community.

HND strengthens community by developing and providing individuals and Hmong non-profits with resources, training, and technical assistance that enable Hmong people to achieve lasting social benefits and participate fully in American civil life.

We build leadership capacity through internships at our Washington DC office and through leadership work with local Hmong organizations such as Project HAVE, which teaches local Hmong organizations how to mobilize parents to improve conditions for students in their local schools. We also help build a strong foundation for the future of the Hmong community by supporting Hmong youth through our annual scholarship program.

Additionally, we provide research that helps those inside and outside the Hmong community develop a better understanding of the factors that impact Hmong people.

Don’t measure success by yards but by miles.

Goal yet to be achieved

Strengthen the capacity of HND.

Attract, develop and retain excellent staff.
Diversify HND’s funding.
Strengthen Board governance and operations.
Promote HND: Marketing and Communications.
Invest in HND’s infrastructure and operations.
Increase and retain members.

Strengthen the capacity of Hmong nonprofits, also known as mutual assistance associations (MAAs), to achieve their mission.

Share and seed best practices/promising ventures for programs and operations among MAAs.
Act as an intermediary on funding and capacity building opportunities.
Share information through convening and networking.
Increase knowledge through education and training.
Strengthen and empower Hmong MAAs through advocacy.
Increase philanthropic giving by Hmong Americans.

Advocate on behalf of, strengthen the voice of, and raise visibility of the Hmong American community.

Strengthen HND’s partnerships with other communities of color.
Develop a national advocacy communication and response network.
Provide leadership on national issues that impact the community.
Research and issue a report on the “State of the Hmong Community” and update it with each census.
Profile successes and alternatives that are working to improve the well being of the Hmong community.

Build and expand HND programming.

Increase programming to support leadership and capacity of Hmong youth. Develop a fundraising plan that adequately covers HND program and operating costs consistent with new strategic plan. Create culturally sensitive organizational development resources and tools to support the developmental needs of Hmong MAAs. Build a network of resources to develop, connect to, and strengthen Hmong businesses.

These are measuring sticks to our goals.

Personally: to touch lives with honesty, integrity and serve humankind with a smile. Be rich in kindness.

Best practical advice

My dad told me this before I left to work and live in Japan; A man’s words and actions speaks highly of a man’s true intention, no matter what good intention you have in mind, always remember that serving others mean forgetting your own intentions.

I have always believe that what I do is to make others lives more better than they see it. If it means walking away and not touching sacredness even though my organization means to help, I still should respect the people I’m serving, that is a measure of a man’s true integrity. You can not serve people who don’t want to be serve.

Supportive words from a family member or friend on your venture

My best friend who passed away in 1996, was my idol. She taught me how to live and share, but mostly she taught me how to forgive, even her murderer. I look back at her life and I saw how she always smiles and enjoy life and made people around her smile. I still remember the last thing she said to me, you have to know what you need before you can receive it.

I truly believe that, we spend half our lives searching for a place, an identity, a dream and yet all we have to really see is what we need. I only need to serve people, love people, give to people, show people goodness and live with people. This I believe is what everyone else needs. In her sarcastic ways, enjoy today’s beautifulness, because we may not see tomorrow’s ugliness.


We all need someone to search our own souls. I have my Parents and siblings, they are great mentors. I have my friends who I have chosen to call friends. I have teachers and coaches who I’ve learned to evaluate myself. I have only but the love of God who challenges me everyday.

My parents with their flaws show me how to love, despise, value, share, give, and be unique. My four sisters show me how to be a strong individual because of my culture, they define what is a Hmong woman. My brother, he taught me how to be a Hmong man and yet be free to live as a man. My friends encourage me to seek out new adventures and stay rooted to old traditions. My teachers and coaches taught me how to modify myself, physically and mentally for the challenges ahead. God has shown me the beginning and the ending of the day. What you do between those hours is the measure of a person.

What motivated you to get started?

God and my love for people who don’t know. I want to change people’s hearts and souls about human life. Everyday and every where we come across something new, something rare and if know one tells us about the beauties of it we will just pass it by or assume it is something else. I want to change people’s philosophy in the way we see each others. Like a saying, the only race we need to be in is the human race.

Like best about what you do?

I love the human touch and the sharing of knowledge. I love the idea of giving. Human fellowship is hard these days, what I do allows this and the wonderful thing about it is that I get what I need, human interactions on a certain cause.

Like least about what you do?

Money makes the world go, in this business we have to find people who have similar values and belief or we can’t serve. Begging isn’t easy especially when no one is listening.

At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a missionary to Africa. The idea of serving my God and bringing people to follow Him was promising and besides I would get to go to far exotic places.

What was your first job?

I was an art tutor for my neighborhood center.

Biggest pastime outside of work

I love arts and sports, and if I’m not involve with one or the other I’m unhappy. I work with a group that create opportunities for Asians who otherwise will not get to participate in organized sports. I’m also an actor, spoken words artist, writer, artist and occasionally a blues singer. But I share these thing with less fortunate young adults and youth.

Person most interested in meeting

I want to meet the younger version of my father, when he was my age. I think this will help explain who he was and who he is. If I can observe him grow I will know why I love and hate him. He is after all the biggest factor in cultivating me. Why he chose to do the things he did and how he react to results, and what if I could have steer him in a different path would that have change who I am.

Leader in business most interested in meeting

I like to meet the person who came up with the idea of money exchange. He or she have create the web of life. I mean this is the our worlds building block, without this we would be be in the dark ages. It’s not about technology or science and educations but how we get money from Australia to Canada and it has to be worth something. That’s the person I wan to meet.

Three interesting facts about yourself

1. Renaissance cowboy
2. Wisdom of a child
3. Hmong

Three characteristics that describe you

1. Optimistic
2. Caring
3. Honorable

Three greatest passions

1. God
2. Family
3. Friend

Favorite book

The Bible

Favorite cause

Human cause

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Interview by Vanessa Chan
Introduction by Kaiser Shahid
Edited by Sumaya Kazi

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