Yvonne Cheung Ho, center, president and CEO of the Minnesota Economic Development Association, after receiving her award from Women of Distinction Planning Committee Chair Janet Stacey, left, and Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys CEO Linda Keene, right. (Contributed photo)
ST. PAUL (April 8, 2010) – Seven local, extraordinary women from the Twin Cities and Rochester gathered at the Depot in Minneapolis last Thursday, April 8 to be honored by the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys at their Women of Distinction luncheon.
Over 650 attendees gathered at this year’s Women of Distinction event, which provided an opportunity to link women leaders of the present with future women leaders being developed through programs and activities in Girl Scouts.
This year’s honorees included State Senator Mee Moua (DFL-67) in St. Paul, and Yvonne Cheung Ho, President and CEO of Metropolitan Economic Development Association in Minneapolis.
The other five honorees included Susan Boren, principal, Spencer Stuart, Minneapolis; Gail Boudreaux, executive vice president, UnitedHealthcare, Minnetonka; Nancy Lindahl, consultant, Creative Strategies Plus, Deephaven; Kim Nelson, division president, General Mills, Minneapolis; and Dr. Patricia Simmons, Mayo Clinic, Rochester.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American female astronaut in space on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour from September 12-20, 1992. The event was emceed by Robyne Robinson, Fox 9 news anchor and local businesswoman.
During the event, Miranda Yang, a Patrick Henry High School senior and active Girl Scout, spoke about the effect Girl Scouts has had on her life.
“Girl Scouts has taught me that there are endless opportunities out there. If you seek opportunities and take advantage of them, success will happen,” said Yang. “There are girls like me throughout River Valleys who want and need the same leadership development opportunities that only Girl Scouts can offer. I have more tools and resources to follow my dreams and make them come true. I am not limited by others who define who I am, but rather I can choose who I want to become. I am a woman. I am Hmong American. And I am a Girl Scout.”
More information about the annual Women of Distinction event, along with videos of the honorees, can be found by visiting http://www.girlscoutsrv.org/support/Women_of_Distinction_2010.html.
Ms. Cheung Ho moved from an independent business owner, developing fine jewelry and children’s clothing import business, to joining the Metropolitan Economic Development Association in 1993 to manage the business development and programs areas.
Now, as the president and chief executive officer, she is as committed as ever to spreading MEDA’s mission – to help entrepreneurs of color succeed. Ms. Cheung Ho proves her confidence and courage every day as she continually seeks tools, resources, and information for business owners of color, often putting their business success above most everything else.
Currently, Ms. Cheung Ho serves on the boards of The Minneapolis Foundation, Great Neighborhoods! Development Corp., North Memorial Health Care, and the University of Minnesota Alumni Association. She was named one of the Most Influential Women in Minnesota in 2002 by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, and received the Asian-Pacific Leadership Award in 2004 from the Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, and the Outstanding Achievement Award for Alumni in 2004 from the University of Minnesota.
She also received the prestigious Minnesota Vision Award in 2007 from the State Department of Employment and Economic Development, which is only awarded to seven nominees each year for understanding and embodying the spirit of harnessing Minnesota’s ingenuity regarding economic development, workforce development, and education.
Sen. Moua became the nation’s first Hmong American elected to a state legislature with to the Minnesota State Senate in 2002. She is currently in her third term serving as state senator, representing Senate District 67, the east side of St. Paul. She chairs the Judiciary Committee and holds the highest office of any Hmong American politician.
Sen. Moua co-chairs both the bipartisan, bi-cameral Children and Youth Caucus that works to address the major issues facing the children and youth of Minnesota, and the Minnesota Housing Caucus that was assembled to work on matters related to housing. She also serves on the Public Safety Budget Division, the Transportation Committee and the Taxes Committee.
In addition to her work in the Senate, Ms. Moua is a member of the Democratic National Committee and a board member on the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum.
She has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Texas-Austin. She also holds a law degree from the University of Minnesota, and served as an attorney at Leonard, Street and Deinard before being elected to the Legislature.