HAP Board of Directors Choose May yer Thao as New CEO & President

Posted on September 22, 2021 Author HAP Categories News Articles

September 22, 2021 

We are excited to announce that May yer Thao (Mine-za), is HAP’s next President & CEO starting October 11th, 2021. She will be replacing Jodie Tanaka, who has been the Interim Executive Director since February 1, 2021.

When Bao Vang, former President & CEO announced her retirement in January 2021, the HAP Board of Directors developed a process and timeline for the search for a new President & CEO. As part of the selection process, a number of listening sessions and conversations were conducted about the role of a new President & CEO with the Board of Directors, community members, and staff. The input was sought as part of Reimagine HAP 2020 and Beyond, and what HAP needs to be for the community. A search committee composed of members of the Board of Directors, community members, and partner organizations, led by Mai Lor Lee, was formed to commence the search for HAP’s next President & CEO. After months of review, the HAP Board selected May yer Thao. 

May yer grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and, after living in Wisconsin for more than a decade, she will be coming back home to lead our organization.

Her career spans many years of investment in community and bridge building across multiple sectors. She joins us from the Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) in Madison, Wisconsin, where she has been directing strategic efforts in economic development and affordable housing and where she has served as spokesperson with local, state, and national stakeholders and community partners to build new economic development opportunities and strengthen existing relationships.

HAP Board of Directors recognizes that May yer is the leader that we need to propel HAP into this next decade and beyond. For over 10 years, she has elevated the visibility of the Hmong, Southeast Asian, and immigrant and refugee communities in the Midwest. May yer is recognized as a dynamic visionary and performance-driven servant leader with high integrity, a strong work ethic, a commitment to community first, and an exemplary leader that transcends boundaries. 

As a Board, we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to participate in a new chapter of HAP. We are extremely appreciative to Jodie Tanaka, HAP Board Member and Interim Executive Director, for her leadership in the past year. We commend her for her leadership and for stepping up and leaning in as we conducted this search for a new President & CEO.

Over the past fourteen years, HAP has proudly become the largest Hmong-founded, Hmong-led non-profit in the United States. Thanks to strong support received from our community and partners, HAP has come to be synonymous with excellence in empowering and supporting newly arrived and low-income Hmong and other immigrant and refugee families to overcome socio-economic obstacles and inequities to gain safety, well-being, and prosperity. We will continue to do better, with the amazing staff that is part of the HAP team. Rest assured that under May yer’s new leadership, HAP will continue to excel and build upon the great work of its former leaders.

We are truly thrilled about May yer joining the HAP Family. Please, join us in congratulating her in her new role!


Hmong American Partnership Board

Christopher Petersen, Board Chair
Alicia Chang, Board Treasurer
Jodie Tanaka, Board Member
Sgt. Chou Jim Yang, Board Member
Mai Lor Lee, Board Member
Tony Parrish, Board Member