James Chang is the founder and Principal Consultant of Chang Solutions (CS), a consulting firm focused on government process and engagement. Prior to establishing Chang Solutions, James served as the Legislative Affairs Coordinator for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota (BCBSMN).
Before his time with BCBSMN, James was a legislative aid for the Minnesota State Senate where he staffed Minnesota’s first Hmong-American State Senator as well as the City of Saint Paul’s first African-American State Senator. While with the Minnesota State Senate, he also staffed the Senate Judiciary Committee. In addition to his legislative experience, he has been a long time grassroots political organizer working on a variety of community and equity issues. More formally he served as the campaign manager for two successful political bids, one for a Saint Paul Public School Board seat and the other for the Minnesota State Senate.”
Yolanda Cotterall has been working with micro-enterprise development for diverse communities in California, and Minnesota for the past 15 years. As the Greater Minnesota Rural Program Manager she provides capacity building for organizations, and technical assistance providers doing micro-enterprise development work in rural areas. Yolanda also provides a variety of trainings for LEDC partner’s clients. She brings innovation and understanding of the industry to her work with LEDC. Yolanda was born in California and is proud to call herself a “Chicana” of Mexican, and Native American descent.
Pakou Hang is currently the Executive Director of the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA), a member based organization that was newly created to serve, support and advocate for Hmong American farmers and their families.
Phoua Hang grew up in Laos and immigrated to the United States in 1976. She began farming as a means to support her family and has been growing and selling vegetables at the Saint Paul Farmers Market for over 20 years. Phoua is also the former owner of a family run meat processing plant in Wisconsin and the current owner of a value added food cart.
Liz Johnson is the Director of Operations and Community for VoteRunLead, a national organization that supports the aspirations of women who want to transform our country and democracy through their participation as leaders. Liz has worked with countless women leaders to inspire, inform and equip them to pursue positions of influence and elective office. A leader in the design and implementation of training programs for rural women, Liz has worked with thousands of women from hundreds of cities and towns in the Midwest. She is one of the founders of Plate to Politics in collaboration with the Women Food and Agriculture Network that supports women leaders from the healthy food and farming movement.
Across the country, Liz has delivered training programs through unique partnerships with women’s civic, non-profit, and business organizations. Her work is characterized by her asset-based approach and the number and diversity of women. She is a member First Witness Child Advocacy Center and serves as a Duluth, Minnesota Tree Commissioner. Previously, she has worked in philanthropy, as a legislative consultant, and with a variety of nonprofit organizations. She is the recipient of the Minnesota Women’s Press Change Maker Award. Liz is an avid vegetable gardener who lives in Duluth, Minnesota next to the largest freshwater lake in the world.
Jimwa Moua grew up in Laos and immigrated to the United States with his wife and children after the Vietnam War. He is involved in many community organizations and grows cut flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables to sell at the local farmers markets.
Chef Shirley Yang is a “Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts”-trained caterer and personal chef. She blends a foundation of classical training with a flair for fusing bold and imaginative flavors into an unforgettable, customized culinary experience. Shirley has shared her passion for food with high-end resorts in the Southwest, event centers in the Midwest, and international clients. As a personal chef, she has worked throughout the greater Los Angeles area, including a number of celebrity clientele, dreaming up menus to create a balance between daring flavors and delicious food. As a caterer, Yang has worked with numerous organizations throughout the Twin Cities working with various budgets and dietary requirements all the while infusing her food philosophy that food brings people together.