Kao Kalia Yang is a teacher, public speaker, and writer. Yang is the author of the award-winning book, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir (Coffee House Press, 2008) and the book, The Song Poet (Metropolitan Books, 2016). She is a graduate of Carleton College and Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Kao Kalia lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her family. Kao Kalia Yang is a member of the Hmong ethnic minority. Born in Thailand’s Ban Vinai Refugee Camp, Yang is now an American citizen.
Sasānēhsaeh Pyawasay an enrolled member of the Menominee Nation, grew up on the Menominee Indian Reservation of Wisconsin. Sasanehsaeh attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for her undergraduate degree in Sociology and American Indian Studies and a graduate degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.
A Ronald E. McNair scholar, Sasanehsaeh is the first one in her family to continue her studies in graduate school and received her PhD from the University of Minnesota in Organizational Leadership Policy and Development with an emphasis in higher education. In addition to continuing her education, she has also worked in education for 10 years both with college and high school students and is currently at the University of Minnesota.
Sasānēhsaeh, a scholar-practitioner with a heavy lens oriented toward access has worked in various areas in education, in particular pre-college programming, multicultural affairs, admissions, academic advising and diversity programming. She has been recognized for her inclusion efforts, receiving the MCPA Voice of Inclusion Award. With her significant experience as a practitioner and now as an emergence as a researcher, she is able to help to serve as a translator between practitioners and researchers, having the ability to boundary cross from researcher to practitioner and from practitioner to researcher. In order to be able to be an effective translator, she wants her research to be to be accessible to multiple communities. Sasānēhsaeh wants her research to extend and contribute to research in academia, to the Native community and higher education practitioners. She works to create community-based research that offers new perspectives on how to bring about transformative change.
The purpose of her scholarship is to challenge the narrative around the neutrality of higher education through a social historical lens. Through an interdisciplinary approach, infusing Indigenous studies, sociology and education, her scholarship focuses on exploring and interrogating institutional policies, practices, and structures with a Native lens to understand and bring about transformative change establishing a more equitable and accessible higher education institution.