Kao Yong Thao
Position title: Associate Director
Phone: (608) 262-6308
Kao Yong (pronounced Gao Zhong, or Nkauj Zoo for Hmong speakers) Thao serves as Associate Director of the Mercile J. Lee Scholars Program. Kao Yong graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BA in English and Gender & Women’s Studies. After completing her bachelor’s degree, Kao Yong went on to do a term of service with the AmeriCorps VISTA program at Leopold Elementary School where she worked on programs focused on developing family-school-community partnerships. She then went on to pursue her master’s degree in Higher Education with a concentration in Diversity & Social Justice from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. Prior to joining the Mercile J. Lee Scholars Program, Kao Yong was an international student advisor at International Student Services (ISS) and an academic advisor at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
Originally born in Thailand, Kao Yong came to the United States with her family as refugees following the Secret War in Laos and has lived in Manitowoc, Wisconsin most of her life. She is passionate about promoting educational equity and creating spaces where students can flourish. When Kao Yong is not working, she enjoys watching movies, cooking, trying new food, and spending time with her family. Kao Yong is proud to call herself a Mercile J. Lee Scholars Program alumna (Chancellor’s Scholar, 2013).