Akarath Soukhaphon

Akarath (Ake) Soukhaphon is a second-generation Lao American. He is currently a PhD Candidate in the Geography Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his research explores the uneven social and environmental impacts of hydropower development projects in northeastern Thailand, southern Laos, and northeastern Cambodia. He is especially interested in the experiences and knowledges of marginalized peoples and their changing relationships with the Mekong River and its tributaries. In addition to his academic pursuits, Ake works with local and national Lao communities and organizations to promote Lao histories, arts, and culture.

Ian G. Baird

Dr. Ian G. Baird is a professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Taylor & Francis journal, Asian Ethnicity. He conducts most of his research in Laos, Thailand, and northeastern Cambodia. He is an active participant in Lao and Hmong Studies, and he speaks Lao, Thai, and Brao. His most recent book, Rise of the Brao: Ethnic Minorities in Northeastern Cambodia during Vietnamese Occupation, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2020.

Saengmany Ratsabout

Saengmany Ratsabout is the Executive Director of the East Side Freedom Library in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has over 20 years of experience as a program strategist working on community-engaged programs and projects ranging from public history, strategic planning, to civic engagement. He served as a consultant to media organizations, philanthropic institutions, and civil society on issues relating to immigrant and refugee experiences. As a scholar, Saengmany’s research interests include migration history, U.S. refugee resettlement programs and policies, experiences of immigrants and refugees, return migration, and social remittances.

Mike Rattanasengchanh

Dr. P Mike Rattanasengchanh is an assistant professor of Asian and US history at Midwestern State University. His parents were refugees from Kongsedone, Laos, arriving in 1980. He was born and raised in Ithaca, NY, and received his Ph.D. from Ohio University. His research focuses on Laos, Thailand, and US foreign policy, specifically public relations, counterinsurgency, the Cold War, diplomacy, and Asian American studies.

Lili Sisombat

Lili Sisombat is a community organizer and policy maker. She has been an active member of the Lao Women’s Association in France, an organization established in 1977 to support Lao refugees in France and preserve their culture. She holds a PhD degree in sociology of migrations with a dissertation researching the return of Lao exiles to their native country at the end of the cold war (early nineties).  She wrote an ebook on Lao wedding rituals (, a celebration of Lao culture and arts. She currently works as a senior governance specialist with an international organization. In the context of her work, she established the Cambodian Women Entrepreneurs association that has more than 1000 members and supports diverse coalitions to strengthen entrepreneurs and citizens’ voice for a better future. Recently, she started documenting her family history that she shares on her blog Lili is a native of Laos, a refugee as a child when the communist regime took over in 1975. She is a French national residing in the United States.