The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) announced that May yer (pronounced “mine-za”) Thao was selected by Governor Tony Evers to serve as WHEDA’s Assistant Deputy Director.

In this leadership role, May yer will utilize her business development experience and strategic relationships to expand WHEDA’s mission in underserved communities. She will also represent WHEDA on the Governor’s Council on Mental Health.

“I am very excited to utilize my experience to lead WHEDA’s efforts to reach more underserved populations,” said May yer. “I look forward to working with WHEDA’s dedicated employees and partners to help strengthen areas that are very much in need of new economic investment.”

Under May yer’s leadership as Executive Director of the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce (HWCC) for the past five years, the organization deployed business loans and provided technical assistance to underserved communities throughout Wisconsin, leveraging near $10 million in community financing for diverse-owned businesses.

“May yer has been a strong advocate and change agent for the Chamber, of which our reach extends to communities throughout Wisconsin; and given May yer’s statewide involvement, it was only a matter of time before she got tapped to serve a larger role,” said Rebecca Yang, co-chair of Board of Directors for the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce. “So, while the news is bittersweet, we are proud and fully supportive of her decision to serve the state of Wisconsin.”

She opened the Chamber’s first satellite office in Wausau, piloted a bilingual and bicultural Hmong financial literacy curriculum, and helped launched young professional groups throughout the state. Through strategic partnerships, May yer increased HWCC’s revenue and visibility.

“Diversity and inclusivity are top priorities for my administration,” said Governor Evers. “By expanding our leadership circle, we are gaining multiple perspectives to help address critical needs in our state. May yer is heavily engaged in local, state and national communities. Her tremendous work at the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce will be invaluable for WHEDA’s housing and economic development mission.”

May yer was awarded the 2019 Professional Dimensions Sacagawea Award, a prestigious honor recognizing exceptional leadership by “Women who Inspire.” Her new role as WHEDA’s Assistant Deputy Director is effective immediately. WHEDA is an independent state authority that works with lenders to provide low-cost financing for housing and small business development in Wisconsin.

“May yer has extensive experience working with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) that provide financing and technical assistance for economic development, which is a great asset for us,” said WHEDA Executive Director Joaquin Altoro. “We will utilize her leadership to expand diversity and inclusion throughout all aspects of our organization so that we can improve our reach to the areas of the state that need our resources.”

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Lee Matz