The ABIRC Team
Kee Xiong – Deputy Director
Born and raised in Fresno, Mr. Xiong is passionate about the Central Valley and its diverse community. With close to 20 years of banking and finance experience, Kee hopes to bring this experience to further ABIRC’s goal and mission of creating a successful Asian American business community in the Central Valley through economic development.
Currently, he serves as the Chairperson for the Board of Director for Valley Small Business Development Corporation, a CDFI based in Fresno. He is also the Treasurer for Habitat for Humanity of Tulare and Kings County Board of Directors. In addition, he has served and volunteered with other various community groups throughout the Central Valley, mostly focusing on economic development and services to underserved communities and small minority owned businesses.
As a father, husband, son, and sibling of ten children when not volunteering, Kee enjoys spending time with his family. He is proud to call the Central Valley his home.
Lue Nhia Yang- Program Consultant
Mr. Yang obtained his Associates of Arts degree in Social Work back in Laos, where he was born and raised until he and his family resettled in the United States. He has one brother and three sisters. At ABIRC, he serves as the Program Consultant, where he manages the several individual grant programs and advises staff members as needed. His main focus is making sure that ABIRC and the staff members are meeting the targeted goals and outcomes of each grant program. He is extremely knowledgeable about the non-profit sector and everything that is needed to ensure sustainability and success. Prior to working here, he served as the Executive Director at the Fresno Center for 26 years and was in retirement these past four years. He has also worked with Greater Fresno Health Organization, Inc., Lao Family Community of Fresno, Inc., and Hawaii State Employee Services.
Mr. Yang’s hobbies include fishing, hiking, and hunting, and, during his free time, he enjoys gardening, cleaning, and watching the news on TV.
Vila Xiong, B.A. – Program Director
Having been born and raised in Fresno, CA, Ms. Xiong is a proud CenCal native who holds an abundance of love for her community. Her parents blessed her with 4 siblings—2 older sisters and 2 young brothers — which she claims is “the perfect mixture of sugar and spice for me to handle.”
Ms. Xiong’s educational journey began at Fresno City College, where she obtained her Associate of Arts degree in Communication. She then transferred to Fresno State University, where she completed and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication and Journalism with an emphasis in Multimedia Production. During her time there, she spent one semester collaborating with The Fresno Metro Ministry, a local non-profit organization that is well known for their Food to Share program that addressed and distributed agricultural, edible food waste to food insecure families within the Central Valley region.
Shortly after, she started working as a radio host for KBIF 900AM, the Central Valley’s largest Asian radio station. Her work revolved around producing and co-hosting the GenNext show (formerly known as GenerationX), where she and three other co-hosts provided entertainment services in both Hmong and English to (1) preserve the Hmong culture, language, and traditions, and (2) close the generational gaps between the older and younger Hmong folks. In addition to this, she was involved with sales, marketing, and social media; and provided additional services to the community (e.g., hosting the annual Asian Resource fair and emceeing for the Hmong New Year).
At the same time, Ms. Xiong was also an employee at Fresno Unified School District, where she started as a Home School Liaison/Community Coordinator, working alongside the Neighborhood Revitalization Team on the Restore Fresno project to survey and outreach to residents to understand how the city can reshape their neighborhoods, and then transitioned into the Paraprofessional role, enabling her to support transitional kindergarten teachers and their students.
Flash forward to today, Ms. Xiong is now the Program Manager here at ABIRC. Her responsibilities include assisting the Deputy Director by overseeing the many different programs; and building relationships and connections with clients and our partner organizations. Her main focus, at the moment, is overseeing the Local Food Promotion Program with Madi Her, one of our Program Assistants.
Outside of work, she enjoys traveling for the sole purpose of discovering new foods; hiking; fishing; and an array of water sports with her family and friends. She also loves to keep herself occupied by uncovering/testing new food recipes, building model kits, and raising betta fish.
Ms. Xiong graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Marilyn grew up in Fresno with a total of 7 siblings. Throughout her journey in Irvine, she was able to partake in the AAPI Learning from our Elders research group that documented the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Orange County. She also interned with the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance where she outreached to the community about the 2020 Census, 2020 Election, and redistricting. She is passionate about the wellbeing of her community and has organized a leadership youth conference for high school students on behalf of the Hmong Student Association at UCI.
At ABIRC, she is currently assisting with payroll and bookkeeping, where she ensures that our budgets are up to date and orders all necessary supplies and equipment. If needed, she works with the other staff members to help them gain a better understanding of their program’s budget. In addition to all of this, she also assists with grant writing and onboard all new and prospective staff members.
During her free time, she likes to spend time with her family and friends.
Danny Vang, B.A. – Content Writing Development Specialist
Mr. Vang graduated from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in Education. His former leadership experiences include being the President and Secretary for the Hmong Student Union at UC Davis, Administrative Coordinator for Southeast Asian (SEA) Graduation, and a mentor for several SEA youth conferences. Before he joined the ABIRC team, he worked as a Day Support Provider, where he provided supervision and tutoring services to first grade classrooms, the Special Day Class, and the children of school staff.
At ABIRC, Danny manages all social media platforms, inviting the community to partake in ABIRC’s many activities and training workshops. He also creates and sends out our monthly newsletter, which entails the work we have accomplished the month prior. In addition to this, he also provides assistance to other staff members and aids in grant writing.
He is currently a second-year graduate student in the CSU Stanislaus Masters of Arts in English program, with a concentration in Rhetoric and Teaching Writing. After he completes this program, he hopes to gain acceptance into a PhD in Education program, where he will focus on educational policy, metacognition, and first-generation student experiences. Danny’s ultimate goal is to become an English professor and professional editor, where he will conduct research, address issues with literacy among underserved populations, provide editing services, and mentor college students. During his free time, he enjoys shopping, binging TV shows, writing poems, and spending time with his two dogs, Zorro and Gurey.
Yileng Lee – Program Specialist
Mr. Lee was born and raised in Fresno, California. As the youngest of seven children, he understands the value of helping others. He has carried this mindset with him to several past jobs and volunteer opportunities at small businesses. He brings the same energy to his position at ABIRC.
At ABIRC, Yileng is the manager of the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE) grant, which enables him to conduct outreach and provides technical assistance to our farmer clients. Some of his work includes working with farmers to apply for loans and grants such as the Pandemic Response Safety grant and California Underserved and Small Producers grant. In addition to this, he also helps farmers obtain certain certifications and necessary documents for farming.
Yileng’s ultimate goal is to be able to financially support his parents. During his free time, Yileng finds comfort in outdoor adventures, swimming, and games of any sort.
Choua Thao, B.A. – Business Specialist
Mr. Thao graduated from California State University, Fresno with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He was raised in Fresno, CA and has three sisters and five brothers.
As a Program Assistant and one of the two grant managers of the Wells Fargo grant program at ABIRC, most of his work is revolved around supporting small businesses and farmers. This specifically includes outreaching to local businesses, providing technical assistance to business owners, hosting and coordinating workshops (e.g., Bookkeeping 101, Business Plan 101, Tax Filing, etc…), planning events with our community based partner organizations to create market opportunities and improve our clients’ knowledge of finances, and spreading awareness of financial resources and businesses services. In addition to this, Choua also manages the California Underserved and Small Producers (CUSP) grant program with Madi Her. Together, both Choua and Madi work to bring back relief dollars to the underserved BIMPOC farmer community. On top of all of this, he also assists with translating our flyers from English to Hmong.
One of his favorite hobbies include eating, and, during his free time, he likes to fish, play volleyball, and go jogging outdoors.
Ms. Vang graduated from California State University, Fresno with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an option in Marketing. Jamie’s entrepreneurship journey started in high school when she was placed into the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) program. During the program, Jamie developed a business idea, created a business plan, and pitched the business idea to a mentor in Shark Tank style. From there on, she continued to develop businesses of her own.
Jamie is a self-driven and passionate entrepreneur who owns two small businesses where she solely oversees operation, production, marketing, and customer service. As an underserved small business owner, she understands the challenges and struggles of starting a business with limited to no resources. Even with a business background, Jamie was not aware that there was free assistance available in the community. She did not know where to get help, who to reach out to, and that there were grants available to fund businesses. Because of this, Jamie has a passion for helping other business owners, so that they do not have to face the same issues as she did. Jamie’s mission at ABIRC is to outreach and inform business owners and farmers that there are assistance and resources available, most that are available free of charge.
At ABIRC, Jamie works under the Wells Fargo Grant with Choua, where she provides technical assistance to support small business owners/farmers in the Central Valley. This specifically includes outreaching to and informing businesses about available resources, finding grants or loan opportunities, hosting informational business workshops, connecting businesses with our community-based partner organizations, helping our clients gain a stronger understanding of business planning and finances, and much more. From surveying local small businesses and providing one-on-one business consulting, Jamie has concluded that many business owners/farmers need assistance with financial and business planning. With that, the previous workshops that ABIRC has hosted include those topics such as Business Planning, Bookkeeping, and Tax Filing. By hosting these informational business workshops, ABIRC can educate business owners/farmers about the importance of gaining knowledge to sustain their businesses.
In addition, Jamie also works under the California Listos Grant with Vila, where she provides
disaster training and resources to vulnerable and diverse populations. This work is intended to increase communities’ disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation capabilities. Jamie has also assisted farmers to apply for grants, such as the Pandemic Response and Safety (PRS) and the California Underserved and Small Producers (CUSP). With the COVID-19 pandemic, many farmers struggled and suffered a loss of income. These farmers were unaware of grants such as these that could help fund and sustain their farming business. Because most farmers do not speak English, Jamie was also able to provide translation to provide cultural competent assistance. Furthermore, Jamie has participated in the CSA Food Boxes Distribution program, where she helps package fresh produce from local farmers into boxes to feed several food insecure families throughout the Central California region.
During her free time, Jamie enjoys spending time with her family, listening to K-pop music, watching Chinese dramas, and crying over dog adoption stories.
Madi Her, B.A. – Program Specialist
Ms. Her was born and raised in Thailand, a place that she and her family resided in for over 30 years. It is in Thailand where her mother gave birth to 8 children, with Madi being one of them. For Madi, school has always been a challenge due to language barriers that make it a struggle for her to understand the class material and concepts. Despite that, however, she persevered and became the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. She graduated from Fresno State University with a B.A. in Social Work in 2021.
Prior to working at ABIRC, Madi lived in Los Angeles with her friends. She recently moved back to Fresno, CA in February of 2022. At ABIRC, she is in charge of the Local Food Promotion Program, where he connects buyers in the East Bay to BIMPOC farmers within Fresno. Her main responsibilities include creating a weekly inventory sheet and coordinating with buyers, drivers, and producers. In addition to this, Madi also manages the CUSP program with Choua Thao.
During her free time, she enjoys playing badminton, going to the gym, and sleeping.
Peter Thao – Program Specialist
Mr. Thao was born and raised in Fresno, CA. His parents blessed him with three sisters, which means that he is the “only boy” within the household.
Mr. Thao has a very solid background in marketing and sales, holding a sales certification from Cardone University. Prior to working here, he was a sales manager for a local music school, where he honed his customer service skills and trained new staff members. He also served as a Flats Clerk at Amazon, where he managed and reallocated resources and packages for his department. He is currently not in school but does plan on returning in the near future to obtain a degree in Marketing.
At ABIRC, Mr. Thao manages the CDFA: Farm to School program, where he works with local school districts such as Fresno Unified and the Office of Fresno County Superintendent of Schools to increase the diversity of crops and help BIMPOC farmers become vendors. He is excited to help students obtain a stronger understanding of the fruits and vegetables they eat, as well as open more opportunities for BIMPOC farmers.
When not working, Mr. Thao enjoys gardening; creating aquaponic systems, which involves the utilization of fish and beneficial bacteria to grow plants in a closed environment; cooking; fishing; and playing music. During his free time, he plays the occasional video game, hangs out with friends, visits food places, and manages his lead generation business—PTKonnections.