Channapha Khamvongsa, Executive Director
Channapha Khamvongsa is founder and executive director of Legacies of War, an organization that seeks to address the problem of unexploded ordnance 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, especially among the Lao diaspora, to create healing and transformation out of the wreckage of war. Legacies has successfully advocated for an increase in U.S. funding for bomb clearance in Laos, from an annual average of $2M in 2008 to $30M in 2016. In September 2016, President Barack Obama acknowledged Channapha’s advocacy efforts in Laos, where he became the first U.S. President to visit the country. Channapha has written and spoken widely about the secret war in Laos and its aftermath and has appeared in the New York Times, Democracy Now!, CNN, ABC, PBS and CBS News. She previously worked at the Ford Foundation and NEO Philanthropy on immigrant rights, civil society, civic engagement, capacity building, and transformational leadership. She has served on the Seattle Women’s Commission, as well as on the boards of the Refugee Women’s Alliance and the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL). She was born in Vientiane, Laos and came to the U.S. as a refugee at the age of seven. Channapha received her Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Public Administration from George Mason University. She received her Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University.
Mari Quenemoen, Communications Consultant
Mari Quenemoen returns to Legacies after serving as our Program Consultant in 2012-2013. Since then, Mari has worked at the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), the only national civil rights organization devoted to advocating for Cambodian, Hmong, Lao, and Vietnamese American refugee communities. Mari first led SEARAC’s advocacy and awareness-raising strategies on deportation and criminal justice, before transitioning to the role of Director of Communications and Development. Before this, she led an evaluation of the International Rescue Committee’s refugee resettlement programs in Silver Spring, MD, and advocated on global humanitarian concerns in New York with Global Policy Forum and Doctors without Borders. Mari has also conducted ethnographic research on ethnic minority politics in southwestern China and gender-based violence programs in Liberia. She earned her Master of Arts in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Washington and her Bachelor of Arts in Global Politics and Culture from the University of Minnesota.
Aven LaRosa, Program Associate
Aven LaRosa is a recent graduate of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey where she graduated with a double major in Anthropology and French. Her interest in approaching development from an anthropological perspective brought her to study in Khon Kaen, Thailand through CIEE’s development and globalization program in the spring of 2016. During her semester in Thailand, she worked with classmates to identify social factors that allowed farmers to transition away from chemical agricultural practices and provide suggestions for other communities to follow their example. While in SE Asia, she recognized the need for grassroots organizing to solve many problems facing local communities which has led her to pursue a career in the non-profit and/or NGO sector.
Victoria Liu, Graphic Consultant
Victoria Liu is a recent graduate of Princeton University, where she studied International Law and Institutions within the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She is fascinated by macro-level examinations of the movements of institutions, nations, and individuals. She is the past Director of Marketing at Princeton’s Advertise This, Princeton’s only marketing and advertising club, seeking to explore the abstract construction of image and its effect on audience reception and interest.