Our Staff

Pakou Hang, Executive Director

651.493.8091 (work) | pakou@hmongfarmers.com


Pakou Hang is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Hmong American Farmers Association. Pakou’s childhood was spent picking cucumbers for Gedney Pickles and growing and selling vegetables at the local farmers markets. Pakou has worked for over 12 years as a community organizer and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2008 with a Masters in Political Science and from Yale University in 1999 with a B.A. also in Political Science. She is a recipient of the prestigious Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Award, the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, and the newly inaugurated Bush Leadership Fellowship which was the impetus for the formation of HAFA.      


Janssen Hang, Senior Organizer & Farm Manager

651.493.8091 (work) | janssen@hmongfarmers.com


Janssen Hang is the Senior Organizer, Farm Manager and Co-Founder of the Hmong American Farmers Association. Janssen grew up growing, harvesting and selling vegetables for the local food economy and currently runs his family-owned value-added business making spring rolls and egg rolls at the downtown Saint Paul Farmers Market. A 2001 Saint Olaf graduate in Biology and Asian Studies, Janssen has over 20 years of experience in agriculture, 12 years in small business management, and 7 years as a licensed-real estate agent. Janssen is also one among just a few certified Hmong Mekongs (cultural broker). Janssen likes to spend his free time with his wife and two sons in the outdoors.    


Yao Yang, Organizer & Food Hub Director

651.493.8091 (work) | yao@hmongfarmers.com


Yao Yang is an organizer at the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA). In this role she directs HAFA’s beekeeping and co-manages HAFA’s Food Hub incubator. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in 2014 with a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in Japanese. In the summer of 2012, Yao interned with the Eco Center Blagaj in Bosnia and Herzegovina where she worked with endangered species: Tornjak Shepard dogs, donkeys, and griffin vultures. Through this internship she learned how communities’ environmental and economic plans can be changed through grassroots organizing.  


Mat Krisetya, Operations Director

651.493.8091 (work) | mat@hmongfarmers.com


Matius (Mat) Larson Krisetya is the Hmong American Farmers Association’s Operations Director.  Matius’ career started in agribusiness initiating a mint tea farm in Jamaica.  He has 20 years of experience in nonprofit management working with international humanitarian organizations, nonprofits, and with US Federal contractors.  He hold a Masters degree in Urban and Regional Planning school from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a BA in Religion/Economics from Goshen College in Indiana.  In his spare time, Mat likes to cook international foods, to having meals together with his wife and two teenagers, play classical guitar, and photography.


Mark Zumwinkle, Research Coordinator

651.493.8091 (work) | 612.231.0450 (cell) | mark@hmongfarmers.com

Mark Zumwinkle joins HAFA after retiring from 23 years at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) where he worked as a sustainable agriculture specialist. Mark attended the U of M where he focused on soil science and cropping systems.  Mark’s primary role at the MDA has been in facilitating farmer creativity through the Sustainable Agriculture Grant Program. Mark has been the coordinator of a rainfall simulator network. The simulators are used to apply storm events to farm fields to study cropping systems that hold water and nutrients on the farm. Mark spends weekends at his cabin in northern Minnesota where he tends a market garden. The produce supplies Thai restaurants in the Twin Cities.    


Tara Yang, Business Development Organizer

651.493.8091 (work) | tara@hmongfarmers.com

Tara Yang is the Business Development Organizer at the Hmong American Farmers Association. She is an aspiring entrepreneur who comes from a business-oriented family. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison with a degree in Science Communication and a certificate in Global Health. The combination of the two had her specializing in the implementation, analyzation and translation of science and nutrition research. In 2013, Tara traveled to Ethiopia with the UW-Madison Global Health Program where she taught sports nutrition at various orphanages. Her professional experience consists of 5 years in the food science industry in the brand departments of a multi-million dollar company and a billion dollar cooperative.  


Mee Thor, Executive Assistant & Office Manager

651.493.8091 (work) | mee@hmongfarmers.com


Mee Thor is the administrative assistant and office manager at the Hmong American Farmers Association. With a background in process improvement and customer service, Mee joined the HAFA staff in October 2016.Growing up on the East Side of St. Paul, she, like many children of first generation Hmong Americans, was exposed to farming at an early age. It was not until she returned to the Twin Cities, and observed her own parents’ farming, that Mee developed a true appreciation for the hard work and care that goes into growing fresh, quality produce. Mee is currently studying Graphic Design through Southern New Hampshire University’s distance education program. When she is not working on design projects, Mee enjoys photography, running and biking, independent movies, and exploring the local culture of the Twin Cities. 


Kub Vang, Land Access Program Farm Hand

651.493.8091 (work) | kub@hmongfarmers.com


Kub Vang is HAFA’s Farm Hand for the Land Access Program at the HAFA Farm. Prior before HAFA, Vang was an auto technician for 10 years. Vang grew up going to his grandparents garden playing in the fields and shadowing them. Memories at the garden resonate with Vang, which got him thinking it was time for a change in his life. Vang wishes to own a farm one day to raise a small amount of live stocks and manage high tunnels. Every year, Vang looks forward to fall because he is a hunting enthusiast. His favorite is water fowling which includes: geese and ducks.    


Gabrielle Robinson-Bajuscik, Food Hub Operations Manager

651.493.8091 (work) |Gabrielle@hmongfarmers.com


Gabrielle is the Food Hub Operations Manager at HAFA. In this role, she supports the Alternative Markets Program and Food Hub. Gabrielle graduated from Grinnell College with a degree in Anthropology in 2011. While in school, she completed an internship to expand the use of locally produced food in Grinnell, Iowa. In 2010, Gabrielle traveled to Costa Rica to volunteer and conduct research on ecotourism. Since then, she has expanded her knowledge of sustainable agriculture by working on two vegetable and livestock farms in Wisconsin and Nebraska. In her free time, Gabrielle studies Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is learning more about prairie conservation as a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.      


Tong Thao, Food Hub Logistics Manager 

651.493.8091 (work) | tong@hmongfarmers.com


Tong Thao is the Delivery Expert at the Hmong American Farmers Association. Tong graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2012 with a degree in Geography. Tong was born and raised on the East Side of St. Paul, where he served 4 years on the Dayton’s Bluff Community Council organizing the neighborhood and uplifting new leaders in the community. In his youth, Tong remembers waking up in the early morning to go to the gardens with his parents. The early hours and back breaking work instilled in him a strong work ethics, his motto has always been “if you want something done correctly, you do it yourself.” Tong is also a self-taught graphic designer with an entrepreneurial spirit. He recently formed Wizards Marketing with a few of his friends to serve the marketing needs of minority and women owned businesses.  


Stephanie Herr,  2017 Spring Intern


Stephanie Herr is the Business Development Intern. She is a senior at St. Catherine University studying Public Health with a minor in Economics. Stephanie is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but definitely considers St. Paul her home away from home. She is passionate about serving the community and working towards ending health disparities. Through her work with Keystone’s Basic Needs Program, Stephanie has experience working with underserved communities to ensure that food insecurity does not prohibit the ability to live a healthy life. She is extremely excited to join the HAFA team for her 2017 Spring Semester!              


Mike Hazard, Photographer

IMG_1079 Mike Hazard heart by Tressa Sularz

Mike Hazard is a photographer for the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA) farm. A library of the pictures he has clicked since the very beginning of the farm can be found at the website for The Center for International Education where he is artist in residence: thecie.org. Photographing the farm has given Mike a new respect and appreciation for the labor that grows good food.Mike’s photographs are used in many ways. HAFA uses them for grant applications and reports. Many are used for publicity. Families can download them for family albums. A selection will be exhibited at the Minnesota Museum of American Art in 2016. In addition, the vision is to not only create a documentary history of the creation of the farm for the historical record, but to publish a book in which the farmers tell their own stories.