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Friday Forum – Sera Koulabdara
April 21 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
“The Legacies of War:
Physical Scars and Invisible Wounds, Past, Present & Future”
CEO of Legacies of War and
Chair of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions Coalition
Sera will share a brief history of the Secret War in Laos and its lingering impact on the people of Laos, Americans and the global community 50 years later. As a member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions Coalition, Sera will examine what society has learned from the use of indiscriminate weapons like cluster bombs and landmines during the Secret War and examine their use and impacts on Ukraine. She will also discuss the work of Legacies of War and its contributions to the Mine Action Sector.
Sera Koulabdara (Sa-rah Goo-lap-dah lah) (She/Her) fled bomb contamination in Laos at the age of 6 and now serves as CEO of Legacies of War, the only international U.S.-based advocacy and educational organization working to address the impacts of the American Secret War in Laos and conflict in its neighboring countries of Cambodia and Vietnam during the Vietnam War-era, including the removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and victims assistance. Under Sera’s leadership, U.S. funding for UXO clearance in Laos reached $45M – the highest level in history and the Legacies of War Recognition and UXO Removal Act was introduced by Senator Baldwin (D-WI) and Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS). Legacies of War also received the inaugural Humanitarian Award of 2022 given by the Lao PDR for its successful advocacy efforts in securing funds for bomb removal and victims assistance. Sera is relentless and has broken down barriers in establishments and spaces that lack the voice of someone who is directly impacted by the legacies of war. She earned a seat and became the first Lao-American to participate in the 20th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Convention. By unanimous vote, Sera was elected to serve as the Chair of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions Coalition starting in 2023. Sera is the first BIPOC, millennial, and person with lived experience in an impacted country to take on this leadership role.
This event is free and open to the public. A recording will be available on the CSEAS YouTube channel following the event.