Friday, May 08, 2009

NGEC Organization Fellow [MN]: Lao Assistance Center

Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota (LACM) was established in 1981 and works to increase the capacity of the Lao-American population in Minnesota by responding to community identified needs through programs and services that will promote the well-being of families and children while retaining their cultural heritage. 

With five full-time staff and one part-time staff and a network of energetic volunteers, the Lao Assistance Center currently works on issues of chemical health, problem gambling, tobacco prevention and other special issues that affect our community.

The leadership team for the Lao Assistance Center includes:

Sunny Sinh Chanthanouvong has been with the Lao Assistance Center since 1992, starting as a Youth Specialist. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Minnesota State University Mankato and is a court certified interpreter fluent in Lao, Thai, and English. With extensive experience in social service, legal, community liaison, and administrative areas, Sunny has been the Executive Director since 2001. He is a member of the Minnesota Compulsive Gambling Advisory Committee and was recently selected for service on the Minneapolis Human Rights Commission. Sunny is currently a Board Member of NorthPoint Health Wellness Center, Asian Pacific Endowment Fund at St. Paul Foundation, Harrison Neighborhood Association, and the Minnesota Asian/American Health Coalition .

Saengmany Ratsabout is currently the Chemical Health Program Coordinator with Northwest Hennepin Human Services Council. He has obtained a Master of Arts in Southeast Asian Studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Mr. Ratsabout has taught Ethnic Studies and Asian American Studies at Saint Cloud State University and is interested in exploring the social history of Laotian Americans and how immigration laws and legislations affect the community. He has worked in the non-profit sector for over 8 years in various capacities. Mr. Ratsabout is currently a Board Member of Laotian American National Alliance and an Executive Board Member of the Center of Lao Studies. In addition, he works as a consultant to the Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota. As a consultant with LACM, he has worked on the Get Out the Vote project, research analysis, grant writing, planning and evaluation, and community assessment. 

Chongchith Saengsudham was born in Vientiane, Laos and graduated with a degree in Library Science and worked as a business person and entrepreneur owning movie theaters, a book store, restaurant and gas station in Southeast Asia with her family. A refugee of the war in Laos, she came to the US in 1975 working in technology and business. In 2005 she joined the Lao Assistance Center to provide broad-spectrum services for the ethnic Lao community throughout Minnesota, particularly on issues of mental health, youth support and tobacco prevention, an issue that has deep personal connection to her own family.

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