by Contributing Writer, Donna Michele Ramos
Mai Vang is a South Sacramento native who lives in Meadowview and is the eldest of 16 children. Vang is the Executive Director of the Buck Scholars Association, an organization that provides mentorship and scholarships to talented high school students who lack the resources and support to achieve their educational goals. Vang teaches in the Department of Ethnic Studies at California State University, Sacramento and in the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Davis.
Ms. Vang co-founded Hmong Innovating Politics (HIP) with the mission to strengthen the power of disenfranchised communities through innovative civic engagement and strategic grassroots mobilization. She has worked on education, labor and racial/ethnic health disparities with local and national policy and government organizations. She was elected to the Sacramento City School Board in 2016. She also worked tirelessly as a community organizer to improve health and educational outcomes for children and families in south Sacramento. From 2014-2018 Ms. Vang worked at City Hall as the Community Affairs Director for Councilmember Larry Carr. She also serves on the board of directors for the Center for Land-Based Learning and Hmong Youth & Parents United.
Ms. Vang has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Sociology from the University of San Francisco and dual Master’s degrees in Public Health and Asian American Studies from UCLA. For fun she enjoys hiking with her dog Coffee and spending time with her 15 siblings.
THE HUB: What are your plans as you run for office?
VANG: To continue my life’s work and uplift my home and the community I’m in every day. I want to give the Meadowview neighborhood equity. I want to find the resources that other neighborhoods have. School board members know 2/3 of things that impact students are out of the classroom. I want to leverage resources and be an advocate. Our neighborhoods need greater economic development. I want to ensure we get more capital investment in our district. We have two business areas, Florin Road and Mack Road. We want small mom and pop businesses to receive equitable help from the City. District 8 is very diverse; it’s composition is 30% Latin, 28% Asian, 23% White and 20% African American. The African American market borders District 8, we have to invest in these types of business. Great entrepreneurship lifts up business. Homelessness is a huge problem in Sacramento, we have to invest in it now.
THE HUB: What challenges do you see ahead?
VANG: There are so many issues across the city and in our community. Poverty is an underlying issue, along with joblessness and homelessness. Low income families of color are underrepresented, they need to be supported and flourish. We have to make sure our families have good quality jobs, advancement, we need to build a workforce pipeline. How much disposable income does the family have? How can we uplift families from poverty? When that’s done everybody flourishes.
THE HUB: You have touched on it but how do you plan to address the homeless crisis in Sacramento?
VANG: A multi-tier approach. You can’t just move people from the state. Provide shelter, situational housing, work in partnership with federal government for resources, work with developers and advocates to combat this. A huge number of the homeless are women and children. Lots of people are one paycheck away from homelessness.
THE HUB: How can we increase minorities in City and County employment?
VANG: Those hiring should be more intentional in hiring. African American women are historically underrepresented, we should focus on where and how is outreach done? Working more with community organizations that are black women organized for the community. The entire City Council is made up of adults over the age of 40, there are no millennials. If elected, I’ll bring that to the City Council. I’m 34 years old and will be the only millennial. That group is entirely underrepresented. It’s been 10 years since the Sacramento City Council elected a woman, representation matters. My parents came here as Hmong refugees from Laos. I want to continue to be a champion for this area, I grew up here. I’m the first Asian woman to be running for City Council. I want to be the woman of color that helps educates my own community to do that work. When we work with disenfranchised communities all other communities do well.
For additional information contact: (916) 245-0519, www.maivang.org
Contributing Writer, Donna Michele Ramos
Donna Ramos writes several (contemporary and historical) multi-cultural, romance novels simultaneously. Her journalism career as a Senior Staff Writer/Reporter for THE HUB Magazine has yielded interviews with Maxwell, Venus and Serena Williams and HRH Sarah Ferguson Duchess of York, to name a few. As a self-published author, Ramos received acclaim from Essence Magazine and BlackbookPlus.com by being on their best seller lists for her contemporary romance debut book “HIGH RISE”. Currently she is writing, “M&M: MADNESS AND MAYHEM”, the final book in her “HIGH RISE” Trilogy, and “CHOCOLATE IN THE CITY”. Donna partnered with another author, Brooklen Borne to write a 4-book sci-fi thriller series, “Absorption.” Last year she was named “Author of the Year” by Write-On! Awards for Literary Excellence. She states her next project is to “teach myself how to screen write so I can turn my novels into screenplays and submit them to studios and agents searching for fresh new scripts.” Connect with Donna at: facebook.com/donnamramos1
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