Chao Yang

Assistant Director

University of Minnesota’s Community Engagement to Advance Research and Community Health (CEARCH) team
St. Paul , Minnesota
Class of 2021
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Three words to describe me:
loving, fierce, resilient
The best part of my job:
centering the voice and needs of community members in health policies
Something that would surprise others about me:
I'm an avid writer and enjoy using my voice as a mechanism to dream, vision, and question the world.

Chao Yang previously served as a Senior Public Health Educator at the St. Paul-Ramsey County Public Health Department, where she worked to operationalize health equity strategies in partnership with diverse communities. Over her 13-year career in public health, Chao has worked on a plethora of initiatives, from administering public assistance benefits to client caseloads with severe and persistent mental illness to providing statewide training to human services employees on medical assistance policy and program administration.  Currently, she serves as the Community Engagement Assistant Director at the Clinical and Translational Science Institute with the University of Minnesota, where she works to integrate community voices into research design, development, and dissemination. 

In March 2020, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chao was deployed to lead the Asian County Outreach Team, which was tasked with providing support and resources and triaging issues for the Asian community. When racism was declared a public health threat in Ramsey County, she shifted her focus to building a safe space for Asian employees, spearheading the effort to formalize the Asian Descent Network and Employee Resource Group. She is also a 2021-2022 Robert L. Kane Graduate Scholar of Excellence in Long-Term Care. 

Chao holds a BS from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and is currently pursuing an MPH at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. 

As a first-generation Hmong American woman, I was born behind the barbed wires of Phanat Nikhom Thai Refugee Camp. Confined to the parameters of our dirt floor cage, my family awaited our fate for over five years as United States conspirators fleeing the Lao Communist government. When we arrived at last, we settled in the McDonough Public Housing Complexes, where I lived for the following 15 years. In the fourth grade, through the Public Achievement Program, I did community organizing for the first time. This experience set the precedent for the community organizing I continue to do.

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