Pa Ja Yang on top of the world!
Nyob zoo! Hello. My name is Pa Ja. I am the Basic Needs Giving Partnership intern, so I will be working closely with Jenny Krikava and the community engagement team. My pronouns are she/her/hers. I consider myself a problem solver and an innovator. I am creative, adventurous, and community/family-oriented.
Although I was born in Thailand, I am Hmong. We are an ethnic group historically residing in the mountainous regions of Southern China and Southeast Asia. My family and I resettled in Appleton, Wis., when I was young and I’ve called it home since then. My dad is an orphan. His modest dream is to have a big family because he lost his parents and siblings during the Vietnam War, and so I am the second oldest sibling of seven children. In my family, we have several who are teachers as education is important to us, considering our parents never had the opportunity to formal schooling.
I received my undergraduate degree from University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in public administration with an emphasis in nonprofit management. At the time, I had no career ambitions. I just knew I wanted to help people and make a difference in communities. Thankfully, I got into my current job as the Hmong Family Outreach Specialist for the Appleton Public Library. I am still with the Appleton Public Library, so I will be splitting my time between here and there.
Libraries hold a special place in my heart and because of that I have recently graduated with my Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During my final semester of graduate school, I started an independent project with my advisor titled Libraries in Bloom. It is a podcast and website dedicated to highlighting innovative library services as told by library professionals from culturally diverse backgrounds. It has been my passion project and I hope that it will help diversify and reimagine the future of libraries.
I took on the position with the Community Foundation because I saw exciting parallels between libraries and foundations. We are in positions to tackle social issues and make an impact in communities through a lens of equity. I am excited to learn more about the Community Foundation’s work and share my perspective.
Outside of my professional life, I am in the process of planning my wedding in July 2021, if the situation allows for it. My partner’s name is Andy, and we have been together for the past five years. He is a very artistic individual who loves music, reading, and writing. He spent three years in China, teaching English and preparing high school students for their SATs. We love walks with our dog, Raisin, and anything outdoors. In normal times, I love creating new experiences and exploring different food and cultures through travel. I also love anything related to the TV show The Office, wine, and chocolate.
Click on my photo gallery:
I am very grateful to be here and I look forward to contributing to the Community Foundation’s mission. Cheers!