About Us

Founder

Susan Xiong

Founder/President

“In honor of the scholars who has touched our lives, especially our parents, the work we do through A Hopeful Encounter will allow us to give all children in South East Asia the gift of education!”

Brief biography: Currently, Susan is working on obtaining her Master’s in Public Administration from National University. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from CSU, Fresno. Susan has a passion in advocating education for all children

Executive Board

Arick Xiong

Chief Financial Officer

Our Chief Financial Officer is a team player! He has served as Assistant Coach in Badminton for the local school district for the past 5 years. He loves recreational sports and hopes to inspire kids in SEA to embrace the benefits that come with playing in team sports!

Brief biography: Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with an International Option from CSU, Fresno. Growing up in Laos and Thailand, Arick has a holistic understanding of the need for proper education support in South East Asia

Julie Her

Secretary

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” -Theodore Roosevelt

My name is Julie Her. I am a current student at Fresno State. My focus is Liberal Studies with an emphasis in the Bilingual Authorization Program in Hmong along with a pursuit of the Hmong Minor. With a mission to promote higher education and academic success, I wish to pursue my dreams of becoming a prospective Bilingual teacher. On my spare time I love to read, take walks, Hmong dance, and listen to Hmong stories. My vision with A Hopeful Encounter is to make the mission come to life. I hope to gain valuable perspectives on our Southeast Asian community in America and in third world countries on education. I want others to see our organization as a cause to come together to instill support and empower a vision of promoting equitable and quality education for lower socioeconomic communities.

Thongsy Lee

Lao Country Director

Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Vongchaleneu College. Thongsy currently resides in Laos. He has experience working with non-profit organizations in information gathering, managing daily operations, and M&E program objectives. He has a vast knowledge of the remote villages in Laos.

Thongsy likes to travel the countryside of Laos and is very familiar with it’s rich history. He loves interacting with the locals and enjoys soccer during his free time.

Nancy Yang

Volunteer Coordinator

Graduated from CSU Fresno, with a B.S. majoring in Public Health – EOHS and minoring in Gerontology. I was blessed to be able to study abroad in Southeast Asia for 5 months, where I learned about their culture, health, and the lacking systems they are faced with everyday. Coming home, I realized how much we take for granted and found a new passion to make a difference for individuals in SE Asia who have so much potential, but need guidance and a safe place to grow. That is what I believe A Hopeful Encounter can become. Through this organization, I hope children, as well as adults, are enlightened by the promise of education and that one day, they will not be afraid and confidently change their lives, and those lives around them for the better.

Mai Chou Thao

Principal Hope Giver

Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a Human Resource Management Option from CSU, Fresno. In her recent visits to Laos, Mai Chou saw first-hand the lack of access to education and opportunity in the area, which inspired her to join forces with A Hopeful Encounter.

Giving has always been a core value of Mai Chou. From her days as a college student doing community service work to her life as a professional in natural resources, she has given back to her community for over ten years. She loves to be the voice for Hmong women through the radio station KBIF 900AM and provides positive energy from her youtube channel with her sister, Between Sisters.

She truly believes the words of Bobby Unser who once said, “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” Let’s provide every child access to education, so that they can be prepare for the opportunity to be successful.

Advisory Board

Dr. Sam Thowsao Bliatout

B.A. in Horticultural Science and Ph.D. in Business Administration. He believes economic development and job creation are top priorities. Dr. Sam has an established networking system with both local and international leaders, scholars, and local business communities. He has a variety of expertise in both the government and private sectors, including diverse social and political cultures, business development and management. He has worked in collaboration with Korea, Singapore, China and CSU Fresno in conducting project feasibility studies from start to end resulting in developed businesses for the last 25 years in Asia, with a focus in Thailand, China and Laos. Formerly, he has held positions as President of Southeast Fresno Economic Revitalization Company, Vice-Chairman of Republican Coalition for the State of California, and Committee member of the International Trade Committee, Fresno area Chamber of Commerce.

Jim Santos

Mr. Santos is currently the Area Chair for the College of Humanities at the University of Phoenix in Fresno. Known as Coach to his friends and students Coach Santos serves as a volunteer for SCORE Central Valley helping people to develop a new business venture here in the Fresno region. Formerly a Director of Athletics for Special Olympics International in Washington DC Coach has traveled the world visiting more than 100 countries to develop sports and recreation programs for those children and adults with a developmental disability. The founder of the Inspiration Park of Fresno this park will serve those children and adults with any type of disability to enjoy sports and recreation opportunities provided by this one of a kind park in the state of California. Coach Santos has been awarded many national honors in the area of sports, recreation and education and has published more than 55 professional journal articles and academic sports books.

Dr. Ray Tjahjadi

Doctor of Education, Education Technology and Information Management and MBA, Information Systems, Ray currently is a lecturer at CSU Fresno and serving as faculty at Willow International Community College Center. Ray believes that knowledge is a forever asset that must be nurtured by and shared among all people in this world. Education, formal or informal, is a mean to plant, grow, and cultivate knowledge.

One of his favorite quote from Kofi Annan, “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”

Sue Lee

Sue is 26 years old and received her B.S in Business Marketing at CSU Fresno. She is currently an Area Coach of Operation with Panda Express. Sue states her purpose in life is to help people live a life full of joy and happiness. Sue enjoys giving her time and resources to support communities, especially to bring hope to children in need. To Sue, happiness is giving and serving others.