Biographies of Experts in the field
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 nearly $20M in 2016. She has written and spoken widely about the secret war in Laos and its aftermath and has appeared in the New York Times, Democracy Now!, and CNN.
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 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 and came to the U.S. as a refugee at the age of seven. Ms. Khamvongsa 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.
Titus Peachey: Titus was a co-director of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) aid program in Laos from 1980-85. Titus returned to Laos in 1994 to 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. Titus brings with him hands-on experience working in Laos to help villagers remove cluster bombs from their farmland as well as a wealth of experience as the Chair of the Advisory Board for Legacies of War.
Brett Dakin: Brett Dakin has been involved with Laos since he first worked in the country as a Princeton-in-Asia fellow. He is the author of Another Quiet American: Stories of Life in Laos, which Rough Guides calls “a must for anyone looking to understand Laos today.” Brett, formerly chair of the board of Legacies of War, has helped guide the organization through several key milestones, including Secretary Hillary Clinton’s 2012 visit to Laos and the decade-long increase in US funding for bomb removal. He brings to Legacies a wealth of hands-on experience in Laos and as a lawyer, an understanding of the legal issues facing Laos today.
Chanida Phaengdara Potter: Chanida is a Lao American community builder and the founding editor-in-chief of Little Laos on the Prairie, an online storytelling publication committed to amplifying the journeys, cultures, and livelihoods of the Lao Diaspora experience. She also serves as executive director of The SEAD Project, a nonprofit that connects Southeast Asian local and global diaspora communities toward meaningful and sustainable development. Chanida brings with her an astute understanding of the Lao diaspora and of the effects of the secret war on generations of Laotian Americans.
Kou Yang: A Fulbright Scholar, Sasakawa Fellow, and Professor Emeritus of California State University, Stanislaus, Kou Yang is the author of two books, co-editor of one book, and has contributed to more than 5 books. With an extensive publication record on Hmong Diaspora, Hmong history and culture, the Hmong American experience, Lao culture, and the American experience of Indochinese refugees, his more than 20 essays have appeared in widely-consulted national and international peer-reviewed journals. He has also contributed to more than 15 newspaper articles and editorial opinion pieces, such as: The deadly, horrible mess we made still plagues Indochina (2015), 40yrs After the Vietnam War: celebrating the contributions of Indochinese refugees to the USA (2015), and Newly Appointed Leaders in Laos Signal a Few Changes Ahead (2016). Kou Yang is a native of Laos, and a former Buddhist Novice and Social Worker. He has previously worked in many programs and capacities, including child welfare, family service, poverty reduction, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and mental health.
Dave Claycomb: Dave Claycomb brings to Legacies his commitment to a safe world and clean environment. Dave founded California-based HELIX Environmental Planning, Inc. in 1991 and continues to sit on the firm’s Board of Directors while overseeing its Northern California operation. Dave also sits on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Habitat Conservancy which owns and manages open space preserves throughout California. At Legacies of War, Dave serves as a Board member and has helped to direct some of the biggest recent developments in the organization’s history. Claycomb brings with him tremendous organizational skills and experience in community events, having organized and participated in Lao-American community events across the country.
U.S. Congressional members involved in UXO issues
Available upon request. The 2016 Letter to U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, March 21, 2016 can be found here