Channapha Khamvongsa, Executive Director
Channapha Khamvongsa is executive director of Legacies of War, an organization which seeks to address the problem of unexploded cluster bombs in Laos, to provide space for healing the wounds of war and to create greater hope for a future of peace. The organization uses art, culture, education, and community organizing to bring people together and create healing and transformation out of the wreckage of war. Previously, she worked at the Ford Foundation and Public Interest Projects, focusing on immigrant and refugee rights, global civil society, civic engagement, capacity building and transformational leadership. She was previously appointed to the Seattle Women’s Commission and served on the boards of the Refugee Women’s Alliance and Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL).
Channapha’s father is from Luang Prabang and her mother is from Thakhek. She was born in Vientiane and came to the U.S. at the age of seven. Ms. Khamvongsa has studied at George Mason University and Oxford University. She received her Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University.
Titus Peachey, Chair
Titus and his wife Linda were the directors of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) aid program in Laos from 1980-1985. Titus returned to Laos in 1994 to help coordinate the beginning of the humanitarian demining project in Laos, working alongside the Mines Advisory Group and the Lao Committee for Social and Veterans Affairs. He is the recently retired Director of Peace Education for MCC U.S.
“I am a member of the Legacies of War Board because of the shattered Lao hoehead that has lain on my desk for more than 30 years. It was given to us by a man from Moung Kham Village who lost his wife and the mother of his 11 children to an unexploded U.S. cluster bomb in 1981. Each day it tells me that I must be deliberate and creative if I wish to contribute to a future of safety and peace. Legacies of War provides a wonderful opportunity to do this.“
Listen to Titus speak on cluster bombs – WBEZ: In Laos, American Vietnam-era cluster bombs still pose grave threat (December 5, 2011)
Julia M. Brennan, Secretary
Julia M. Brennan is the owner of Caring for Textiles. She has worked in the field of textile conservation and preservation since 1985. She spent her formative childhood years in Northern Thailand in the 1960’s. Her dedication to preservation and education in the region is reflected in her many workshops in Thailand, Bhutan, and Laos. Supporting Legacies of War is inspired by her affection for the region, shock at the enormous amount of American-dropped UXO still littering Laos, and her commitment to help Laotians live a bomb-free and safe life. She has a BA from Barnard College, NYC, 1981, and MA in art crime from The Association for Research in Crimes Against Art, 2010.
“As a child living in Northern Thailand in the 1960’s, we could set our watches to the daily US bombing missions overhead. Little did I know they were headed for Laos. Legacies of War has reconnected me with my past, in an urgent and re constructive way.”
Dave Claycomb is the founder and former Chairman of the Board of Directors of HELIX Environmental Planning, Inc. where he remains an active Board member. Since 1991 he has proudly guided the establishment of HELIX as one of California’s most respected employee-owned environmental planning firms employing nearly 150 staff in multiple offices. In 2008 Dave relinquished the HELIX helm to follow other pursuits, however, in 2012 he renewed his day-to-day involvement as the firm’s Northern California Regional Manager. Dave also sits on the Board of the San Diego Habitat Conservancy, a successful non-profit land conservancy that he helped to establish in 2000. In 2008 he endowed the David Claycomb Environmental Sciences Scholarship at the University of New Hampshire and in 2009 he was presented the Outstanding Contribution to the Environmental Profession Award by the San Diego Chapter of the Association of Environmental Professionals. He is a minority partner in KI Investment Holdings, LLC, and with the Tour De Asia Bicycle Touring Company based in Thailand. He is also a regular advisor to other for-profit and non-profit boards regarding strategic planning and ownership/leadership transition.
“Serving on the Legacies’ Board is a natural extension of my personal and familial ties to Laos and its people. My wife and her family are Laotian and I have studied the history of the region and have travelled there extensively. I have listened to many first-hand accounts of life in Laos during and subsequent to the Secret War and I feel obligated to do whatever I can to help resolve the scourge of UXO in this wonderful part of the world”.
Orathai Phommala, Treasurer
After relocating from refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines, Orathai and her family arrived in upstate New York winter of 1987. Orathai received her bachelor’s degree from Rochester Institute of Technology, and recently completed a certificate program from New York University Schack Institute. She has been living in New York City for the past 9 years and works for a real estate developer.
“Having known nothing about the Secret War and its devastating impact, Legacies’ advocacy for the clearance of UXO has become my personal mission. I am honored to be part of a board who work tirelessly in bringing awareness to the UXO problem, and thankful for their efforts to end remnants of post-Vietnam War.”
Kane Vongsavanh is an associate attorney with Bedi & Matinez, Attorneys at Law focusing mainly on business immigration cases. Kane regularly volunteers his time to taking pro bono cases to help individuals with immigration and family issues. Kane is a co-founder of The Lisa Michelle Corbett Foundation, which provides Christmas presents to low-income families. He is also a mentor for Asian American LEAD. He received his law degree from Florida State University College of Law and his bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University.
“I was born in Laos and my family came to the U.S. when I was two years old. Other than my immediate family, most of my family still lives in and around Vientiane. When I found out about the amazing work that Legacies of War does, I really wanted to help. It’s an honor to serve on the Board of an organization that really does meaningful work, facilitates the removal of bombs in Laos and ultimately saves lives.”
Kasey Chaleunsouk is a manager at Gemdale USA, a real estate investment and development company in New York City. He was born in Laos as one of eight children and grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. Kasey has lived in New York City for the past 15 years and enjoys exploring its many diverse neighborhoods. He graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Political Science and earned an MS in Real Estate Finance and Investment from New York University.
“My personal history gives me more resolve to help find a solution to this tragedy. As a Lao American, I feel a moral obligation to help the victims affected by U.S. policy decisions from over 40 years ago. Joining the Legacies of War Board has been a great honor and learning experience. Removing UXO’s from Laos is no longer an impossible task with increased global awareness, research, and technology. Supporting Legacies of War is an opportunity to be directly involved in changes that affect real lives.”
“Growing up in a mostly homogeneous small town I suppressed my Lao identity so I could be like everyone else. However, I did what was traditionally expected of a first born daughter. I was studious, obedient and rule abiding. Not until college did I became aware of being a woman of color and that I should be proud of what made me different. Still, many years have passed and it still took me awhile to reconcile what it means to be Lao American. Getting involved with Legacies has helped me reconnect to my roots, provide an explanation of what brought my family to America, and gave me a life-long mission to help advocate for Laos and it’s people.”
Brett Dakin, Immediate Past Chair
Brett Dakin served as board chair for over a decade, where he helped guide Legacies of War in achieving several key milestones, including Secretary Hilary Clinton’s visit to Laos in 2012 and the increase in U.S. funding for bomb removal – from $2 million in 2004 to nearly $20 million in 2015. He is currently General Counsel of the Child Mind Institute, a $25 million, 120-employee organization dedicated to transforming mental health care for children everywhere. Brett is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, and the author of Another Quiet American: Stories of Life in Laos, which Rough Guides calls “a must for anyone looking to understand Laos today.”