Member of the Month

Diane Mua-Xiong

“My mission life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

-Maya Angelou

Diane Mua-Xiong  MSN, RN, NPD-BC, CCRN-K

Diane Mua-Xiong is a Nurse Professional Development Specialist for a level 1 trauma center and Magnet Hospital in Northern California. She received her undergraduate degree from Samuel Merritt College and Saint Mary’s College Intercollegiate Nursing Program and her Master of Science in Nursing Degree from California State University, Sacramento. She worked in various nursing roles in her twenty years as a registered nurse in the departments of Orthopedic Trauma, Surgical/Trauma ICU, Post Discharge Call Center, and Interventional Radiology. Currently, she works in the nursing education department, onboarding new graduates and newly hired experienced nurses. She trains nurses in moderate sedation, vascular access management, educating nurse preceptors, and how to read 12 Lead ECGs.

Diane enjoys helping her community, especially the youths and young adults, to further their education and become extraordinary human beings. She volunteers as a camp nurse, works as a youth leader, and is a ropes instructor to help motivate and inspire the youths. She enjoys mentoring nurses. She is passionate about addressing the health disparities in the Hmong community and making a change to heal the Hmong community of generational trauma, domestic violence, and mental health.

Dr. Marie Thao

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Philosopher

Dr. Marie Thao-Ceballos DNP FNP

Florence Nightingale’s lamp to the Nursing path would start at age 7 for Dr. Thao-Ceballos when her paternal grandmother developed diabetes and “puj” could not self-perform the daily blood glucose checks. As the Home Health Nurse was reliant on the Thao family to take on the daunting task, at such a young age- Dr. Thao-Ceballos would rise to take on that responsibility. Years later, Dr. Thao-Ceballos would become more inspired to pursue Nursing by her aunt who successfully obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Mankato State University in Mankato, MN, then further advance her medical career and knowledge as an Emergency Department, Physician Assistant in Wisconsin.

In 2004, as a first-generation Hmong-American college graduate, Dr. Marie Thao-Ceballos

obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a minor in Psychology from Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts. Since then, Dr. Thao-Ceballos has developed a strong platform as a skilled Registered Nurse in the Sacramento Valley, with over 18 years of Nursing experience specific to Level I & Level II Trauma-Emergency Room, Critical Care Transport by both Air (helicopter & airplane) and Ground (ambulance) Transport, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Epidemiology- COVID 19, and Interventional Radiology. In addition to her Nursing tenure, Dr. Thao-Ceballos has been recognized as one of the first Hmong Life Fight RNs nationally.

Moving forward to 2021, Dr. Thao-Ceballos earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner from Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts. Her passion for service, change, and breaking social barriers is evident in her accepted Doctoral Dissertation- Violence at Home Signal for Help: A Quantitative Study Assessing Emergency Room Nurse’s Knowledge and Confidence in the Support of Domestic Violence. Furthermore, Dr. Thao-Ceballos was honorably inducted into the international honor society of nurses- Sigma Theta Tau, in 2019 and she continues to hold positive standing.

The author John C. Maxwell states, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional”. As a healthcare provider, Dr. Thao-Ceballos strives to be a change agent within the Hmong community. She hopes to bridge the progressive gap and address the explicable cultural clash in the maintenance, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of physical and/or mental health or illness. Additionally, she seeks to address the significant prevalence of Domestic Violence/Murder-Suicide in our Hmong communities. Lastly, she hopes to address the growing prevalence, lack of awareness, misunderstanding, and/or acceptance of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersexual, Asexual, Two-Sprit (LGBTQIA2S) within the Hmong culture. Collectively with Dr. Thao-Ceballos, the Hmong Nurses Association, could be the greatest catalyst.

Vonn Y Lee

“If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude.”

— Amy Tan

Vonn Y Lee, RN BSN

Vonn was born in Laos and migrated to the United State in 1976. Vonn was inspired to be a nurse from her times as an interpreter to her family members and relatives on many doctor visits in her early years at the refugee camp in Thailand and in the United States. Vonn got married in Chicago and moved to Syracuse New York in 1979. She graduated from Onondaga Community College with an Associate Degree in Nursing at the same time raising a family. Vonn worked three years in a medical surgical unit, nine years as an emergency nurse, six years as a manager at an Urgent Care Center, and seven years in Peri-anesthesia Nursing as a clinical coordinator. Vonn went back to school and received her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2010 from Keuka College after her three children graduated from college. She is a Clinical Informatics Specialist Nursing at St. Joseph’s Health Hospital, Trinity Health Care Network in Syracuse, New York for the past ten years now.

One of her passions in nursing is to serve patients who have limited Health Care. To do this she did many medical missions in third-world countries that do not have access to medical care. Vonn has done eight medical missions all over the world in Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Kenya, Haiti, and Panama.

Padao Yang

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

-Maya Angelou

Padao Yang, DNP, PMHNP

My name is Padao Yang/Pajntaub Yaj. I am a co-founder of the Hmong Nurses Association, and I just graduated with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree focused on psychiatric mental health (PMH). I started my nursing career in inpatient psychiatry and continue to be intrigued by how someone’s thoughts, feelings, and lived experiences affect their daily life and functioning. I am passionate about continuing this work, especially for those from underrepresented and underserved communities. Currently, there is an immense demand for psychiatric care but an insufficient number of psychiatric providers. Moreover, providers from diverse backgrounds are even fewer. I hope that my work as a PMHNP will contribute to a shift in all providers to practice with the intentional effort of cultural humility and sensitivity. I also hope that I can encourage others, especially Hmong nurses, to pursue a career in this awesome specialty. There is a unique perspective of how Hmong culture understands and experiences mental health compared to the mainstream Western culture. If we had more providers who are able to understand, appreciate, and advocate for the diverse perspectives of mental health, I am confident the quality of care would only improve.

I also want to highlight the importance of the Hmong Nurses Association. It is a place where future, current, and past Hmong nurses as well as their community can come together so that Hmong nurses can reach their fullest potential in their skills and abilities. Moreover, in collaboration with the Hmong community, HNA members can work together to meet the needs to attain and improve health for everyone. There is a lot of work that needs to be done so that we can combat health disparities, improve access to care, and many more issues. We need everyone on this front!

Kao Kang Kue Vang

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

— Dale Carnegie, American writer

Kao Kang Kue Vang, PhD, RN, PHN

Kao Kang Kue Vang is a PhD prepared nurse with over 16 years of nursing experience. She is currently a Quality Nurse Consultant I for Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California Region, Clinical Quality and Data Analytics team. Her nursing experience includes working in the telemetry unit, cardiac step down, adult/pediatric trauma critical care, cardiothoracic critical care, and Quality and Safety department. She is knowledgeable about quality improvement initiatives and conducted multiple quality improvement projects and developed policies and procedures that improved patient care, decreased hospital length of stay, decreased risk for infection, and costs. Kao Kang Kue was recognized with the Daisy Award for advocating for her patients and nursing colleagues by starting a debriefing program in a high stress level 1 trauma critical care unit.

Kao Kang Kue is the co-founder of a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Hmong Nurses Association, Inc. She started this organization in 2012 with the intention to address the lack of representation of Hmong Americans in the healthcare profession by providing mentorship to high school and college students and professional nurses seeking professional growth and development. She has a long history of successfully mentoring high school and college students for educational and professional success. Some of Kao Kang Kue’s passion includes finding opportunities for process and system improvements in healthcare, improving patient outcomes for the underserved and underrepresented, and empowering Hmong Americans to obtain higher educational opportunities.

Kao Kang Kue earned her PhD in Healthcare Leadership and Nursing Science from the University of California Davis, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. She is engaged in the developing culturally appropriate research for the Hmong American community to address data disparities that impacts health outcomes. She is involved in research that investigates COVID-19 mitigation behaviors in Hmong Americans, research on health disparities topics, and looking at data visibility, and its impact on health equity. She earned her Master and Bachelor of Science with distinction from Vanguard University of Southern California and her Associate of Science in Nursing from Pacific Union College.

Kao Kang Kue is the oldest of 13 children. Her parents are refugees from the Vietnam War whose goals and aspirations are for their children to obtain educational success. Kao Kang Kue is married to her loving husband, Edward Vang of 14 years, who is also a nurse. They have a 7-year-old daughter, Kora, who loves arts and crafts and cooking just as much as her mommy. On Kao Kang Kue’s spare time, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her rambunctious seven-year-old and family.

May Hang

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”

— Dale Carnegie, American writer


May Hang was born in Laos.  May and her family immigrated to the US in 1976 and for most of her childhood and young adult years, she grew up in Wausau, Wisconsin.  May went to college attending UW-Eau Claire where in 1994 she earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  She returned to Wausau where she began her nursing career.  First working at Wausau Hospital as a Registered Nurse on the Labor and Delivery floor, then went to Bridge Community Health Clinic, Wausau’s first Federally Qualified Health Clinic, as the RN Case Manager and later serving as one of three school nurses for the Wausau School District.

In 1998 May moved to the Twin Cities to pursue her higher education and in 2003 May received her Master of Science in Nursing Degree from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN, allowing her to function as a Family Nurse Practitioner.  May began her Family Nurse Practitioner career with MinuteClinic in 2003.  She was promoted in 2005 to District Manager of Operation for the Twin Cities market and again promoted in 2006 where she relocated to Michigan to lead the first wave of MinuteClinic’s expansion nationally.

In 2014, May was promoted and relocated back to Minnesota serving as the State Practice Manager for the Twin Cities Market.  In her capacity May is responsible for all business and clinical operations including medically evaluating sick patients, hiring, and training new Nurse Practitioners, setting fiscal policies and ensuring for high quality of care and great customer service.

As her passion has always been to provide care for the underserved and diverse communities, in Jan of 2017, May join the NorthPoint Health Wellness Center as a Family Nurse Practitioner, providing primary care to all age group. May also return to school and obtained her Doctor of Nursing practice receiving her degree December 2019. Currently, she continues to provide care as a part of the NorthPoint Medical team.

May joined Hmong Nurses Association as one of the Board members in April 2021. She is also the Chair of the 1st Hmong Nurses Association Nursing Conference which will be held on August 5-6, 2022, in St. Paul, MN.