Meet Cha Vang (Executive Director)
What would your walk out song be?
Why did you join HIP?
Join HIP? I created HIP. LOL I’m just kidding. (sort of).
I have lived in Sacramento all my life. I spent my college years going to class and working full-time. That left very little time for campus organizing or club activities. For eight years I worked at the Mutual Assistance Network of Del Paso Heights but I never pushed myself to do more for the community. I was content but felt empty at the same time. I helped found HIP at a time in my life when I also needed change. The more appropriate question to ask me is 'why I continue?'
The exact moment I realized what it meant to be a HIP Organizer happened the day after the Sacramento City Unified School Board voted to close the 7 schools. I had a lunch meeting with my South Sacramento youth alcohol prevention coalition and one of the members asked me about the vote. And that did it. I started crying and couldn’t stop. It felt so personal, so real and so unjust. I realize this was just the beginning. There was so much to do and the work must go on.
How has being a part of HIP impacted your life?
I’m not sure what I did before HIP came into my life. HIP became my identity, my family and my friends. Since being a part of HIP, I’ve grown personally and professionally. HIP challenged me to move beyond my comfort zones. HIP allowed me to meet new people and open so many different doors.
Why should someone join HIP?
- Someone should join HIP because:
- You believe our communities matter and we are meant to do great things.
- Have a passion to do community work.
- To grow and explore to your fullest potential.
- Challenge yourself.
- Meet and work with great people.
What is your favorite moment from your time in HIP?
My favorite memories come from our work for Project VOTE. Every election, HIP sets aside some time to help the Hmong community members understand and fill in their ballots. It’s time consuming and challenging to translate election materials. But it’s amusing, inspiring and beautiful to see our community members exercising their right to vote. It is a learning experience for everyone, every single time.
Where do you think the Hmong community will be in 5 years? in 20?
In 5 years, I hope the Hmong community will be more active in the electoral process and be more vocal about their needs. I hope to see Hmong adults involved in the political system.
In 20 years, I hope to see the Hmong vote an important targeted voter demographic all across the country. I hope to see more Hmong elected officials, whom stay humble and continue to work for the community. I hope to see an established channel for fostering progressive future Hmong leaders.
When I’m not hustling for HIP, you can find me…
Hiding in my comfortable quiet room, enjoying and catching up on some Korean dramas and being the introvert that I really am. You’ll find me TRYING to be the good Hmong daughter like I’m supposed to be. But mostly, you’ll find me spending time with my family and friends; doing some community service projects with my Sacramento Metro Lions Club and working my fulltime job. Yes, the HIP organizers also have fulltime jobs. We are nerds by day and super heroes by night (more like, we’re much more nerdy by night.)