Co Director, Programs and Operations
Jessica Eckerstorfer (siya, she, hers) is a 2nd generation, Filipina-American who grew up all over the Midwest, but settled in Minneapolis in 2012. She is a strong feminist, who believes in the intersectionality of social justice and the necessity of empathetic creativity. In addition, she is the Co-Founder and Artistic Community Director of Paranoid Tree Press. Her background is solidly based in arts nonprofit programming. She has dual Bachelor's degrees in English and philosophy with a focus of civic life and engagement from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and a Master's of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, Fiction from Columbia College Chicago. She is a two time recipient of the Albert P. Weisman Award, and her work can be found in The Ivory Tower, Pilcrow & Dagger, and Paper Darts Lit + Art Magazine.
Co Director, Partnerships and Development
Kaysone Syonesa (she/her/hers) is a 1.5 generation Lao American who is one of the first Lao refugees to hold a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of Minnesota. She was born in the Salavan Province of Laos and has heritage from Laos and Vietnam. She has many years working alongside communities of color as an individual artist and with organizations at the local, national, and international level. She brings a multitude of talent from the private, nonprofit, education, and government sectors. Her unique background and multidisciplinary experiences include community development & engagement, strategic partnerships & funding, systems change, facilitative leadership, diversity & inclusion, racial equity, advocacy, social services, program management, and youth engagement. She is a performance storyteller at her core, and flourishes at interconnecting creativity and community to continuously approach her work with an artistic and justice lens.
Lead Visual Designer
Charmaine (siya, they) is a 1.5 generation Filipino in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Dedicated to nurturing an interdependent relationship between social justice work, cultural work, and their art, they align themselves with Toni Cade Bambara's concept of the artist—one who aids the revolution by making it irresistible. They are a founding member of a Chicago-based experimental creative collective called commonfolk. Charmaine has dedicated years of design work for various non-profit and grassroots organizations and programs throughout the Chicagoland area. They are an interdisciplinary artist who illustrates, designs graphics and physical products, and dabbles with spatial curation, fashion styling, events, and music.
Tri (he/ask) has provided enthusiastic labor for many BIPoC led small businesses, mission-led orgs, and political initiatives as long as he's had a driver's license, which itself wasn't until he needed to drive to internships at 21 years old. Tri counts himself among the new generation of baby Leftists trying to co-create the gospel of building strong communities beyond our profit-driven economies. His go-to karaoke songs pull from punk rock music, the High School Musical movies, and Carly Rae Jepsen's "Emotion" album.
Dexieng "Dae" Yang
Office and Project Coordinator
Dexieng "Dae" Yang (she/her/hers) is a 2nd generation Hmong Artist located in the Twin Cities. As a recent grad from Augsburg University '21, she received a BA in Theater with concentrations in Playwriting, Dramaturgy and Directing with a minor in Management Information Systems. She holds a heart of passion for her community combined with the arts and believes that storytelling is a powerful way to preserve culture. Her time in the theater world, as a performer, has shaped her will in telling stories of the untold, holding light for those marginalized and speaking truth through ways that may be untraditional but just as important. She has love for the youth and, as a playwright, centers her plays around them to tell stories family can share together. Being the oldest of 8, she strives to show her siblings where life can lead you when you pursue your passions and not the paths others instill us to follow. "If your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough." She is a firm believer that she will never be done learning and is always looking to learn more about the things she knows and doesn't know.
Our Executive Board
Aloun (he/him) is one of five children out of a family of seven that immigrated to the U.S from Northeast Thailand in 1976. His background is Lao/Thai. He was part of the earliest wave of Southeast Asian refugees and immigrants post-Vietnam War and were settled in Janesville, WI, where he eventually receives his K-12 education. After high school, he attended UW-Stout in Menomonie where he completed his undergraduate studies. As a teacher working in St. Paul, MN, he completed his Masters in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Minnesota and a Reading license at Hamline University. After spending 25+ years in the classroom teaching Visual Arts, Reading, and taking on various leadership roles, he has transitioned into a full time leadership role working for Minneapolis Public Schools as a Specialist supporting teachers and administrators. Growing up as a 1.5 generation immigrant, Aloun has had to sculpt his identity living in two different worlds. Slowly realizing that his first culture is disappearing (particularly since his parents death) he has been purposeful in maintaining it whether through language, food, and being involved in vital organizations such as SEAD.
Eric La Nguyen
Eric (he/him) is one of four children of Vietnamese refugees who met in 1977 in Spokane, Washington. He grew up bouncing around the country but moved to Minnesota over 20 years ago. He knows that he won’t be a perfect board member, but he hopes to help the community as much as he can. He is currently in St. Paul and working in development at a fundraising nonprofit here in the Twin Cities. He has a B.S. in Community & Nonprofit Leadership & a Master’s in Public Affairs.
Born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sopheak (he/him) is a first-generation Cambodian-born American immigrant raised with Cambodian traditional collectivism, integrated with American individualism, and now on a journey towards creating his own Cambodian identity -- through learning, loving, and being. Sopheak strives to foster economic and social equity by creating instruments of change through his personal and professional work. He is currently in Seattle, WA and working in the technology sector with a focus on product strategy and operations. In his spare time, Sopheak searches for Southeast-Asian hole-in-the-walls food and unofficially embarks on a mission to try as many types of pickled fruits and vegetables as he could. The name Sopheak, pronounced soh-paek, stemmed from a many-thousand-years-old language known as Khmer. Influenced by Sanskrit and Pali, Khmer dialects are rich in history dating back to the Pre-Angkorian period in 600 CE and evolved through royal and religious registers into what is now known to many as Central Khmer."