ABIRC Team

July 10, 2018

The ABIRC Team

blong xiong pictureBlong Xiong, MBA – Executive Director

Mr. Xiong obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Marian College of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and later received a Master’s degree in Business Administration from National University. Before joining ABIRC, Blong served 2-terms as a Council Member for the City of Fresno, where he was the first elected Hmong Council Member in the State of California and the first Asian Council Member in the City of Fresno. He also served as a Public Defender Investigator for the County of Fresno and as Deputy Director for The Fresno Center (formerly known as Fresno Center for New Americans) for over a decade. Blong’s leadership experience extends to diverse organizations in Fresno County and the U.S. where his passion has led him to assist, advocate for and represent many underserved populations including immigrants, refugees, New Americans, small business owners, and farmers. Throughout his professional career, he has served on several statewide commissions, the Asian Pacific Islander Commission and the California Volunteer Commission appointed by former Governor Schwarzenegger. As part of the community, Blong is also very active in issues that span education, economic development, health, and equitable access to resources. On a personal note, Blong has shaped his family’s small business and has a keen understanding of the struggles of small business owners.

Mr. Xiong served as a Board Member for ABIRC prior to becoming its Executive Director in July 2018. As soon as he took the helm, he recruited the current Board members and found funding for Board training. Blong worked with ABIRC’s Board members to bring in the largest grant to date from the Department of Water Resources. After growing the agency’s staff members and launching the first Hmong Leadership Cohort, grants were obtained from the US Department of Agriculture, State of California Go-Biz and Fresno County 2020 Census to provide technical assistance to small SEA farmers and businesses, and to ensure that the SEA community is represented/counted in the decennial census. Blong secured additional funding in the form of corporate sponsorships from community partners includes the Chevron, City of Fresno, Comcast, Fresno County, Fresno Unified School District, PG&E, PacWest Bank, and Valley Small Business Development Corporation. He has worked closely with local community partners that serve the SEA/Hmong community, including The Fresno Center, Fresno Interdenominational Refugee Ministries, Lao Veterans of America, Inc., Special Guerrilla Unit, UC Cooperative Extension, Hmong Clan leadership, ethnic media (Hmong USA TV, Hmong Radio, Hmong Network). to advance ABIRC’s mission

As a spokesperson/community leader for the SEA community, Blong works closely with local, state, and federal officials regarding the SEA community’s need for services/dollars. He has also established strong relationships and community partners with African American, Latino and Punjabi communities, in addition to other ethnic minority groups in the local area.

In his spare time, Blong teaches business courses at Phoenix University and Fresno City College. He also enjoys traveling with his wife, taking care of his dog and playing golf.

Keng

Keng Vang, BA – Crop Distribution Manager

Mr. Vang graduated from California State University, Fresno in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and a minor in Hmong. He co-founded the Hmong Language Club at Fresno State. His strong dominance of the Hmong language allowed him to earn a Certificate in Hmong Medical Interpreting from the Clovis Community College (Herndon Campus) and to work for Global Accents Translation Services as a Hmong Translator. Keng’s work as an Archaeologist with the USDA Forest Service at four National Forests across two states provided him the experience of identifying, documenting and evaluating heritage and cultural resources. Prior to working with ABIRC as a temporary employee beginning April 2020, he was employed by two of the major Southeast Asian farming serving groups in the Central Valley, the National Hmong American Farmers, Inc. and the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension.

Keng comes from a family with extensive experience in farming and is familiar with many farmers in the Central Valley. As our Program Assistant for the CDFA and census grants, Keng assists ABIRC by contacting Southeast Asian micro farmers to advise them of direct and technical assistance opportunities ABIRC offers to promote their produce through the COVID-19 pandemic. He is directly involved with helping micro farmers to fill out applications for crisis relief efforts and conducting the intake assessments that allow ABIRC to identify farmers who are desirous of participating in a pilot project for crop distribution to CSAs in the East Bay. As he contacts farmers about their crops and talks with them, he gains a deep understanding of the effect of the pandemic beyond the farm.

On his days off, Keng enjoys hiking, cooking Hmong food, traveling, hunting, and fishing.

Danny

Danny Vang, BA – Program Assistant

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 is also a part of the CDFA Farm to School team. As part of this exciting program, Danny interacts with local farmers (many of whom are Hmong) and nutrition staff at the Fresno Unified School District and the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools to raise awareness of specialty crops among students in urban and rural schools.

Danny’s goal is to become an English professor, where he will conduct research, further analyze literary theories, and mentor college students. During his free time, he enjoys shopping, binging TV shows, writing poems, and spending time with his dog, Zorro.

Yileng

Yileng Lee – Program Assistant

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 conducts business outreach and provides technical assistance to Southeast Asian business owners in the City of Fresno. Just recently, he delivered bags filled with PPE supplies to many local businesses all across the city and informed them about resources available to businesses within the city limits. 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. 

 

 

 

Dillon XIong

Dillon Xiong – Program Assistant 

Mr. Xiong grew up in Fresno, CA and is the second oldest of four.  He was a college student at San Francisco State University, where he aimed to obtain his Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing. During his time in college, he studied abroad in Japan for one year as a part of completing the prerequisites for his minor in Japanese. It was specifically there that he had the opportunity to take a few sword classes.  He is currently taking a break from college and is using this time, during the COVID-19 pandemic, to give back to his community.

At ABIRC, Dillon is a part of the CDFA Farm to School team, where he interacts with several local farmers, many of whom identify as Hmong, and nutrition staff at the Fresno Unified School District and the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools to raise awareness of specialty crops among students in urban and rural schools.

During his free time, he enjoys cooking, playing games, watching anime, and hanging out with his friends via Discord.

Pakue's Photo

Pakue Xiong, B.A. – Program Assistant

Ms. Xiong graduate from California State University, Fresno with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work. She was born in Thailand and raised in Fresno, CA, where she currently lives with her parents and five siblings. Before she joined the ABIRC team, she worked a part-time job and was a college student. At ABIRC, she outreaches to the Southeast Asian community and provides technical assistance to small farmers and businesses.

Some of Pakue’s favorite hobbies include cooking, gardening, shopping, and watching Korean dramas. During her free time, she likes to relax, explore new places, and go on adventures with her family.

 

 

 

IMG_5560

Marilyn Xiong, B.A. – Program Assistant

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. During her free time, she likes to spend time with her family and friends.

 

 

5Choua Thao, B.A. – Program Assistant 

Mr. Thao graduated from California State University, Fresno with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Admiration. He was raised in Fresno, CA and has three sisters and five brothers. As a Program Assistant at ABIRC, his work is revolved around supporting small businesses and farmers. This specially includes providing technical assistance, hosting and coordinating workshops, planning events with our partners to create market opportunities, and spreading awareness of financial resources and businesses services.

One of his favorite hobbies include eating, and, during his free time, he likes to fish, play volleyball, and go jogging outdoors.

 

 

 

 

Jamie Vang - Staff Bio Photo

Jamie Vang, B.A. – Program Assistant

Ms. Vang graduated from California State University, Fresno with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an option in Marketing. Jamie is a self-driven and passionate entrepreneur who owns two small businesses of her own. As a small business owner, herself, she understands the challenges and struggles of starting a business with limited to no resources. Because of this, Jamie has a passion for helping other business owners, so that they do not have to face the same issues like she did. At ABIRC, Jamie works under the Wells Fargo Grant, where she provides technical assistance to small business owners in the Central Valley. This specifically includes outreaching to and informing businesses about available resources and grants, hosting informational workshops, connecting businesses with partners, and much more.

During her free time, Jamie enjoys spending time with her family, listening to K-pop music, and watching Chinese dramas.