FRESNO — Dr. Ketmani Kouanchao will be the Keynote Speaker for the Laotian American Community of Fresno Banquet on March 9, 2013 at the Clovis Senior Center.
Dr. Kouanchao’s topic will be the journey of Lao Americans in education, civic engagement and the role of parents and elders in building the future with their youth. She will be drawing from her personal experience as well as her recent research on Lao American youth in community colleges.
The Laotian-American Community of Fresno was founded in 2000 by concerned Laotian community members as a source of mentorship, guidance, and support for community members and their families as new lives were being established in the United States. They are the only Lao-run nonprofit in the Fresno area, and their mission is to promote and preserve Lao cultural heritage and traditions. Their principal approach is through traditional Lao dance classes and Lao literacy classes, and they also work to empower and encourage Lao youth to pursue college education. Throughout 2013, a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grants Program will support an ongoing program of traditional Lao dance instruction designed to preserve and promote cultural transmission to Lao-American youth.
The US Census 2010 estimates there are over 69,000 Lao residing in California, out of an estimated 232,000 total nationally. Minnesota is estimated to have over 12,000 Lao residents. Nationally, only 13.2% of the Lao hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Many of today’s Lao American students are among the first in their families to attend college. Over 81,000 Lao are under the age of 18, but there are few resources and mentors available to assist their educational progress in a culturally appropriate way.
Dr. Kouanchao currently serves as the director of EOPS/CARE programs at Mt. San Jacinto Community College. Dr. Kouanchao was born in Laos and raised in Minneapolis, MN. She received her doctorate degree from California State University- Fullerton in Educational Leadership Administration focusing on Community College. She received her Master’s Degree in Education and her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Public Health and East Asian Studies from the University of Minnesota. She has over 15 years of experience as a university and community college administrator including the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
Dr. Kouanchao works nationally on issues of cross-cultural leadership, women’s leadership and transformative leadership development. She enjoys helping all students to discover their own unique leadership style. She considers it important for students and families to share their success with others and help everyone reach their full leadership potential. She is a regular columnist for the Twin Cities Daily Planet and Little Laos on the Prairie.