Notable Women in Education: Chris Her-Xiong

Founder and Executive Director / Hmong American Peace Academy

  • Category: Notable Women in Education
  • Number of years working in your current industry: 30
  • Undergrad degree/university: Bachelor of Science from Central College in Pella, Iowa
  • Graduate degree/university: Master of Arts in Administrative Leadership at Alverno College in Milwaukee and Candidate in the Doctoral Leadership Studies program at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee

Chris Her-Xiong holds many firsts – the first Hmong teacher and the first Hmong principal in the city of Milwaukee, to name a few – but her greatest accomplishment could be founding the Hmong American Peace Academy in 2004.

It began when Her-Xiong challenged Hmong community leaders to create an organization that preserved Hmong culture while helping students become active and knowledgeable citizens. This propelled the creation of the MPS charter school that now serves more than 1,800 students in grades K4-12 and is recognized as one of Milwaukee’s highest-performing schools, despite 95% of students qualifying as economically disadvantaged, according to Her-Xiong.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, with 80% of its students and families without a computer at home for virtual learning, Her-Xiong and her team applied for every resource they could to get the technology their students needed. They developed and continuously updated safety plans in case students were able to come back on campus.

When Her-Xiong noticed how much the pandemic’s effects were impacting students, she wanted to keep a constant for students who were already managing so much change and asked teachers to teach from their classrooms. This had great results as daily virtual student attendance averaged 98% and teachers enjoyed it, Her-Xiong said.

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin