My name is Terri Thao and I am a second-generation Hmong American woman. My family immigrated to the United States in 1976 where they resettled in Chicago. I was born in Illinois and am the oldest of six children. We moved to St. Paul when I was 7 years old to be closer to family and because of job and housing opportunities. I grew up in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul with refugee parents and we did not have a lot of money. As the oldest child, I earned money from small stipends until I got my first job at the age of 16. Despite this, my parents saw hope and possibility in the United States. They encouraged my five siblings and I to pursue higher education as a means to move out of poverty.
I have lived this value in the work that I do. I have participated in various activities that helped build and enhance my community. I was involved in the Thomas-Dale Block Club that sparked my youth leadership. I gained strong work ethics at a young age where I managed several of my family’s small businesses. I attended the Humphrey School for Public Affairs where I gained the skills and knowledge of how public policy formed. I also served as board chair of many local non-profit organizations including (Neighborhood House, Asian Economic Development Association and the East Side Neighborhood Development Company). I previously served on the City of St. Paul’s Planning Commission and also assisted development of small businesses. Currently, I am the program director of a local organization where I train and support leaders of color and indigenous leaders to participate in city and regional policymaking. I have been passionate about ensuring that the voices and lived experiences of our community are present at various decision-making tables.
I am the product of many public institutions including the St. Paul Public Schools and University of Minnesota. I am a proud mother of two children ages 10 and 8. I am also a wife, sister, daughter, and aunty.
“I am running because we are the answers to the problems in our communities and we need someone on the City Council who can be a partner to these solutions. I know we can do it together. I want to be a part of a community that my great grandchildren will be proud to call home.”
Why I am Running
I believe in community. I am committed to building authentic relationships and dedicated to community engagement. I know we can build a better future if we are strategic, creative, and open to new change.
Racial diversity and economic equity matters. When we solve for the most vulnerable in our communities, which are communities of color and indigenous communities, we solve for many others.
I have a successful record of advocating for the East Side. Through my job and different boards I have supported redevelopment projects on the Phalen corridor and along Payne and Arcade Avenue. I also co-chaired the Grand Round Community Advisory Committee where I work to ensured that sidewalks and bike paths are developed along Johnson Parkway.