September 10, 2019, 5:30pm - 9:00pm
LIGHTING NEW LEGACIES
LIGHTING NEW LEGACIES
Dress Code: Festive and Semi-Formal
Drinks and Light Hors D'oevres
Video Presentation, Bar closes
America's Secret War in Laos - ABC News
Welcome and Acknowledgments
Congressional Champion Award
Welcome Dance- Ouay Phon Ton Hup
Lao Family Style Dinner by Featured Guest Chef, Chef Boby Pradachith
Classical Musical Performance
Congressional Honorary Committee Remarks
Lighting New Legacies
Introduction of New Executive Director by Channapha Khamvongsa
Robert Shetterly, Americans Who Tell the Truth
Last chance for Silent Auction and Hall of Lights
Auction Winners Announced
Please collect your items and pay at registration
Sok Dee and Goodbye
Compliments of Chefs Michelle Zeng and Boby Pradachith
CELEBRATING CHAMPIONS OF LEGACIES
Senator Patrick Leahy speaking to Congress on the dangers of Landmines and victim assistance in Southeast Asia, photo credit: the Office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont
HONORABLE PATRICK LEAHY
U.S. SENATOR OF VERMONT
CONGRESSIONAL CHAMPION AWARD
Senator Patrick Leahy was first elected to the United States Senate in 1974 and currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Due to his long and distinguished tenure, he is first in seniority in the Senate and is the senior-most member of the Senate Judiciary and Senate Agriculture committees.
Over the course of his service, Senator Leahy has demonstrated a commitment to worldwide humanitarian aid. Among many great achievements and efforts, he has used his position to provide outstanding support for victims of military conflict and unexploded ordnance (UXO). In 1989, he founded the Leahy War Victims Fund through USAID for the purpose of providing aid to those injured by landmines. In its early years, the Leahy War Victims Fund focused on providing prosthetics and physical rehabilitation. Senator Leahy has since developed the fund to provide a much wider range of care with up to $14 million in relief each year.
Beyond his efforts to aid victims of UXO, Senator Leahy has urged congressional action to end the use of indiscriminate weapons and support demining operations. Additionally, he has spoken in support of international treaties to prevent the use of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions. These initiatives are crucial for protecting future generations from the dangers of UXO. Through The Leahy War Victims Fund, policy activism in the Senate, and continual support of Legacies of War’s mission, Senator Leahy has been a key leader in the development of a safer future in Laos.
THE MINES ADVISORY GROUP
OPERATOR EXCELLENCE AWARD
MAG was founded in 1989 by former British Army Engineer Rae McGrath in response to the problems caused by UXO in Afghanistan. In 1992 MAG began its first overseas operations, beginning a campaign to remove UXO from Iraq following the end of the first Gulf War. Since founding, MAG has worked in 68 countries, helping over 18 million people in the process.
MAG was the first group to begin UXO removal operations in Laos, following the initial UXO research and exploratory work done by the Mennonite Central Committee. Their operations started in 1994, making 2019 the 25th anniversary of operations. MAG’s operations have expanded in Laos to include two provinces and programs beyond UXO removal. In addition to UXO clearance, MAG also provides UXO risk education and a special UXO reporting hotline, with each item reported to the hotline being destroyed within 24 hours. In 2018, MAG destroyed 18,547 UXO and bombs, clearing more than 740 acres of land with more than 28,000 direct beneficiaries. MAG’s operations continue to save lives every day; so far in 2019 they have already cleared another 740 acres, nearly matching their 2018 total in just the first six months of 2019.
In conjunction with Legacies of War, MAG has raised global awareness on the issues of UXO in Laos. MAG’s groundbreaking work as the first UXO removal operations in Laos assisted in the establishment of the national clearance body UXO Lao in 1996 and opened the door for other NGOs to begin operations in the country, accelerating the progress of UXO removal. In 2005, Laos established the National Regulatory Authority to coordinate UXO removal operations within the country and has worked closely with MAG to return safety and well-being to the Laotian people.
LAOTIAN AMERICAN ADVOCACY COALITION OF CALIFORNIA
COMMUNITY EXCELLENCE AWARD
The Laotian American Advocacy Coalition of California is made up of non-profit organizations and individual community leaders working collaboratively across the state to pass a legislation, AB 1393 (Weber et al), which will make available for schools in California a model curriculum on the history and cultural studies of Laotian refugees affected by the Vietnam War and the Secret War in Laos. The advocacy effort has been led by Dr. Khonepheth Liemthongsamout with the Lao American Advancement Organization (LAAO) and Chairman Pida Kongphouthone with the Lao Advocacy Organization of San Diego (LaoSD). Supporting organizations include Advocates for Iu Mien (AIM), Center for Lao Studies, Laotian American Community of Fresno, Laotian Community of Porterville, Southeast Asian Resource Action Center, Laotian American National Alliance, and Legacies of War.
The bill, AB 1393 (Weber et al), outlines a model curriculum for grades K-12 that focuses on the history and cultural study of Laotian refugees (inclusive of Lao, Iu Mien, Khmu, Phutai, Tai Lue, Tai Dam, and Tai Deng refugee communities). The bill is designed to advance education equity for Laotian Americans by teaching the history of the Vietnam War Era in Laos, the Secret War in Laos, and the refugees from Laos. For so long, the history of Laos and its people has gone untold. The Laotian diaspora community in California is fighting to ensure legacies of the Laotian people, their culture, and their history is not forgotten, as part of U.S. history.
Inclusion of the history of the refugees and their stories is crucial to the education of California’s youth. This curriculum shines a light on the history of Laotian Americans and their present-day community, connecting the next generation of Laotian Americans to one another and the larger society to which they belong.
FOUNDING DIRECTOR, LEGACIES OF WAR
VISIONARY LEADERSHIP AWARD
This year we will celebrate Founding Director Channapha Khamvongsa, one of the first trailblazers to light the path for new legacies, and commemorate the impact and achievements of Legacies of War over the last 15 years. As Channapha transitions off as Executive Director this year, friends, family, and supporters of Legacies will have the opportunity to bid "Sok Dee" to Channapha with a baci ceremony and introduce a new era of Legacies.
Channapha started Legacies of War in 2004 after meeting with John Cavanagh, the Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Studies. John had worked alongside Fred Branfman in the 1970s at the Indochina Resource Center, a policy think-tank working to stop the bombings in Southeast Asia (SEA). During his work in SEA, John came across illustrations of the U.S. bombings in Laos. With a sense that the drawings were important, he decided to hold on to them and turn them over to Channapha and the Lao Diaspora.
Since then, 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, when 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.
ACTING PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY
DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF WEAPONS REMOVAL AND ABATEMENT
BUREAU OF POLITICAL-MILITARY AFFAIRS
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
PUBLIC SERVICE EXCELLENCE AWARD
Stanley L. Brown has been serving as Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM) since January 2019. He is also the Director of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) and has served in that capacity since 2013.
Legacies of War recognizes Mr. Brown’s advocacy and leadership for the continued removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Laos as the United States continues its role as a leading international donor to UXO clearance activities. His has been a constant partner for Legacies of War and has supported Legacies of War’s mission.
As Director of PM/WRA, Mr. Brown is responsible for global programs that strengthen U.S. national security by preventing the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons and reducing the impact of explosive hazards, which includes leading the interagency Man-portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) Task Force.
Before joining the Department of State, Mr. Brown served 27 years in the U.S. Air Force, primarily in Special Operations units. He also held several assignments to the State Department, including as Director of PM Bureau’s Office of International Security Operations and Special Operations Chief in the Counterterrorism Bureau. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a Master of Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He is a graduate of Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College.
H.E. SALEUMXAY KOMMASITH
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, LAO P.D.R.
PUBLIC SERVICE EXCELLENCE AWARD
His Excellency Saleumxay Kommasith is Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao PDR. He joined the Ministry in 1992, and was instrumental to the success of the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was hosted by the Lao PDR in 2010.
Before his appointment to Minister in 2016, he was Deputy-Minister. Previously, he was Permanent Representative of the Lao PDR to the UN in New York, a position he held from 2012 to 2013. He was Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2011 to 2012. Between 2007 and 2011, he served as Director-General of the Department of International Organizations, having previously served as Deputy Director-General since 2004. From 2003 to 2004, he was Director of the Department’s United Nations Division.
Additional positions he held include Second Secretary in his country’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York and Deputy Director in the Western Europe Division of the Foreign Ministry’s Europe-America Department. From 1994 to 1996, he was the Department’s Desk Officer for the United States, having held the post of Australia Desk Officer from 1992 to 1994.
The holder of a master’s degree in international relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, Minister Kommasith also has a Master of Arts in international study and development from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and holds the distinction of being the first graduate from Laos.