Women Community Orgs Diversity
ECASD Administrator and Former Principal Receives Area’s First Hmoob Excellence Award
Dr. Kaying Xiong was honored by the Black & Brown Womyn Power Coalition
McKenna Scherer, photos by Andrea Paulseth |
As a teacher, then as a principal, and now as executive director of student services for the Eau Claire Area School District, Dr. Kaying Xiong has been a longtime facet of the local school system and community. Now, she has been honored for her work by a local nonprofit, receiving the first-ever Hmoob Excellence Award.
Black and Brown Womyn Power Coalition Inc. (BBWPC), a locally-founded nonprofit, awarded Xiong at its first HMoob Heritage Month Gala on April 28 at The Lismore Hotel.
Xiong has been recognized for her influential work and presence in the Chippewa Valley before. She began as an elementary school teacher after graduating from UW-Eau Claire, then returned to school to study educational administration. She became one of – if not the – first Hmong principals in the nation at Locust Lane Elementary in 2001.
"We thought, why don't we uplift someone in our own community, recognize them for their work, and hopefully inspire other emerging leaders and young folks in the community to also become civically engaged."
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF BBWPC
Since then, she has received numerous accolades and her passion for education has only continued to surge forward. Xiong earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership through Hamline University in 2006.
Following Xiong’s professional rise to the district office, she explained one of her goals was to continue finding educational strategies that will work to support the social and emotional needs of all children throughout the district. This ties directly into one of BBWPC’s local programs, Power Up Eau Claire.
Power Up Eau Claire is a civic engagement project aim at amplifying the voices and experiences of minority and underrepresented communities with a focus on the local Hmong community, as described on its website.
The community was invited to nominate Hmoob locals for the award, the requirements to be nominated were purposefully left broad for its first year. In planning the HMoob Heritage Gala, the idea to create the Hmoob Excellence Award was born, both hand-in-hand with efforts to rebuild the community following COVID-19 and the rise in anti-Asian hate.
“The Hmoob Gala was really to celebrate our cultural heritage and bring that community feeling, where people can feel a sense of safety and really celebrate being who we are,” said Pa Thao, executive director of BBWPC. “We thought, why don’t we uplift someone in our own community, recognize them for their work, and hopefully inspire other emerging leaders and young folks in the community to also become civically engaged.”
The event’s planning committee took in each nomination and removed identifying information, like names, to solidify a non-biased look into each nominee. Staff of BBWP ultimately voted on the award recipient.
There were eight nominations for the award, three of which for Xiong, who was chosen for her extraordinary impact and work in the community.
“She was the first Hmong woman to become principal in the nation, so that really speaks volumes,” Thao said. “Not just by being the first, but by paving ways for younger folks to also achieve things like this; to think, ‘if she can do it, I can do it too.’ ”
Keep up with the Black & Brown Womyn Power Coalition Inc. on Facebook and visit their website to learn more.