More than a thousand community leaders, professionals, advocates, and youth from across the country will gather in Milwaukee for the 18th Hmong National Development Conference (HNDC) from April 21 to 23.

Hosted by Hmong National Development, Inc. (HND) the event will take place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Downtown Milwaukee. Guided by this year’s theme, “Power of the Past, Force of the Future,” the gathering will engage attendees in critical conversations regarding key issues impacting the Hmong American community.

“It has been almost a decade since the conference has come to Wisconsin. In that time there has been significant change in both the Hmong community as well as our country as a whole,” said Bao Vang, HND President/CEO. “The conference will not only bring national attention to many of the challenges the community has faced in Wisconsin, but also highlight and amplify the incredible accomplishments Hmong Americans in Wisconsin and across the country have achieved. In today’s political climate, it is crucial now more than ever to bring attention to the numerous ways that immigrant and refugee communities continue to strengthen and revitalize towns and cities across the country.”

Discussion topics include community activism regarding several high profile cases involving Hmong Americans in Wisconsin, the role of civic participation to uplift the community, and opportunities to advance the community through social entrepreneurship and economic development. Over 150 presenters from around the country will present over 50 workshops spanning education to leadership development and more.

Speakers scheduled to take the main stage during the 3-day conference include Steve Ly, Mayor of Elk Grove, CA; Kashoua Kristy Yang, recently elected Judge of Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Branch 47 and the country’s first Hmong female judge; Susan Pha, City Councilwoman of Brooklyn Park, MN and the first person of color ever to be elected to Brooklyn Park’s City Council, and many more.

Since its founding by Hmong community leaders in 1993, HND has served as a voice and advocated for the Hmong American community in Washington, DC. HNDC continues to be the largest convening of Hmong leaders from across the country, even drawing international attendees. The last time the conference was in Wisconsin was in 2009 in Appleton.

Hmong National Development, Inc. (HND) is a national, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization whose mission is to empower the Hmong community to achieve prosperity and equality through education, research, policy advocacy and leadership development.

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Lee Matz