Pheng Thao, MLS, MA has been actively building and developing new concepts of healthy masculine expressions and male practices for close to 20 years as a violence prevention expert. He believes that creating healthy and healing connections and interconnections with men and masculine folks are necessary to transform their relationships with women, girls, LGBTQ/gender non-conforming folks and not limit their full potential. Pheng has provided over 700 keynotes, trainings and technical assistances to many diverse groups and organizations at the local, national, and international level. Many of his speaking engagements are about violence prevention in the family and community; how public safety needs to include interpersonal safety; the intersections of gender-based violence (domestic violence; sexual violence; sexual exploitation; etc.) manhood and masculinity; practicing healthy masculinity/manhood and culturally appropriate healing practices. He is also the founder/Executive Director of ManForward, a national Southeast Asian men and masculine grass-roots group that uses community organizing to activate men, boys, and masculine folks to practice new forms and concepts of masculinity and manhood. In all these roles, Pheng deeply believes that healing is an essential part of his work in building and connecting communities; so, as a healer doing life and leadership coaching work Pheng supports and works with individuals and organizations to strengthen their connections internally and externally.
Jon endured the systemic challenges of being second generation American and helping his refugee family members adjust to life in a new culture. Despite being swept up in the net of the criminal justice system in his youth, he was able to find a way to rebuild his life after incarceration. He has been able to help others navigate the barriers after incarceration and provide support for people with final orders for removal. Jon has also organized around reforming local/national immigration policy and anti-deportation work. Jon engages in anti-deportation organizing with a gender lens and employs holistic strategies to support impacted community members.
Leefong Vang grew up in Clovis, CA with a big family of eleven siblings. His refugee parents took care of the family by farming to make a living in the United States. After high school, he pursued higher education and moved to Sacramento, CA. He’s received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Liberal Studies at the California State University of Sacramento. He is currently a substitute teacher and on his path to becoming a teacher. In 2019, Leefong was a male member of the California Hmong Advocate Network and Building Our Future(CHAN-BOF) organization to receive training and coaching sessions from ManForward. The male members would hold a men’s healing space as a California region. In 2021, Leefong became a Board member of the ManForward non-profit organization. Some hobbies of his are listening to music, playing the guitar, and playing sports.
Zong Yang is a Hmong Queer social Justice movement builder in the Midwest. He has 11 years of experience in grassroots, nonprofit community work. His work is focused on ending gender-based violence within the Hmong and greater Southeast Asian community. Today, Zong works as the Community Engagement Director of ManForward and the Queer Justice Director at the Hmong American Women’s Association (HAWA) in Milwaukee WI. At ManForward, he manages a national network of Southeast Asian Men & Masculine members across the country to support local projects and organizations. At HAWA, he develops and oversees local strategies and projects to support Hmong Women, Girls and LGBTQ survivors of violence. Through his gender-justice work, Zong has worked and supported Hmong Women and LGBTQ leadership to build infrastructure in nonprofit organizations to provide support services for Hmong and Southeast Asian LGBTQ survivors of violence. He has led the co-creation of a Hmong LGBTQ specific social Justice movement timeline to inform frameworks for rising Hmong LGBTQ advocates across the state of WI. Furthermore, Zong is actively serving as a Queer Justice contingency member for the Building Our Future Collective, an international group who works to lead and organize international campaigns to end abusive international marriages and the murders and homicides of Hmong Women. In this capacity, Zong has also led LGBTQ workshops and trainings for Hmong women at the first ever international Hmong Women’s global summit in Thailand of 2016, a gathering first of its kind to gather Hmong Women globally to strategize and work to end gender-based violence against Hmong Women and LGBTQ people. Lastly, Zong also serves as a board member to the Southeast Asian Freedom Network and the Freedom Action Now Inc. organization. In his free time, Zong enjoys digital painting and playing competitive volleyball.
Baonam ‘Nam’ Giang serves as the Director of Capacity Building at ManForward. In this role, he leads our political education, training, and technical assistance work for individuals and organizations. He is passionate about serving the AAPI community, particularly around holding space for men, boys, and masculine identifying folks to redefine masculinity and dismantle patriarchy. He is the son of Vietnamese boat people and was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Nam graduated from the University of New Mexico with a B.A. in Criminology and a Master of Public Administration with an emphasis in public and nonprofit management. In his free time, he enjoys serving as a youth group leader, playing basketball, snowboarding, and spending time in nature with his wife and daughter.
Phougna ‘Oboi’ Kongmanichanh is the Anti-deportation Program Director for Manforward. He works closely with national networks to develop political educational programs to deepen the leadership capacity for those impacted. Oboi has over 10 years of commitment to social justice movement through grassroots organizing, and mobilizing support around issues of deportation in the Southeast Asian Community. He’s coordinated and produced media for National/International Campaign “#Right2Return” and has music score credits on NBC’s docu-series “Deported”. Oboi is also a recipient of The Moriah Group’s “Forward Promise Fellowship” for 2023. He enjoys songwriting and bicycling.