HONORARY ADVISORY COUNCIL

ROBERT JACOBSON

Advisor Dr. Robert D. Jacobsen

Advisor Dr. Robert D. Jacobsen, Ph.D., is the founding curator of Asian art at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) where he is currently Chair of the Department of Asian Art Emeritus. He received his PhD in Asian art history with a minor in Chinese language and literature at the University of Minnesota. His dissertation concerned The Inlaid Bronzes of the Warring States Period and Their Revivals. He served as a research fellow in the Department of Antiquities at the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan and was an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Art history. He worked with KTCA public television in the production of a six-part series on the art and culture of China: Made in China, which he narrated, that premiered in 2002. His recent books include Classical Chinese Furniture in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Imperial Silks: Ch’ing Dynasty Textiles in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Appreciating China: Gifts From Ruth and Bruce Dayton, and Celestial Horses and Long Sleeve Dancers: Ancient Chinese Tomb Figurines. In 2008 Dr. Jacobsen was granted the Outstanding Achievement Award by the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota in recognition of notable professional attainment.  During his tenure at the MIA, Dr. Jacobsen organized 42 special exhibitions, expanded the Asian collections to over 15,000 objects, wrote 34 articles and books on Asian art and delivered over 300 public lectures. In 2006 he supervised the expansion of the Asian galleries from 22 to 43 galleries with the space devoted to China amongst the largest in the country.

BRENDA FONG

Advisor Brenda Fong

Advisor Brenda Fong is a strong advocate for diversity both at work and with the MN communities and has a wealth of fund-raising experience.   Brenda joined and helped form an “Asian Connection Team Members Network” at Wells Fargo in 2003.  She was Chair in 2006 and 2007, and stayed as an advisor after 2008.  The purpose of Asian Connection is to bring the rich Asian cultures to Senior Management and to promote awareness to all.  Brenda joined forces and partnered with Target, Best Buy, Medtronic, Ameriprise Financial and General Mills to form the “MN China American Business Association”  from 2005-2008, and helped raise funds to host 2 events each month to promote awareness and increase opportunities for Asian Americans within their companies. Brenda’s most passionate project is the Phalen Park Dragon Festival.  She joined the Dragon Festival in 2003, participating on the boat team and as the funding manager for Wells Fargo.  She was selected as the Dragon Festival Chair and Co-Chair for 2004 to 2007 and as the Funding Manager and Advisor to coach the new Chair since 2007.   She helped promote and raise funds of up to $90,000.00 each year. Brenda’s latest project is to help and coach the Chinese Senior Citizens Society’s Leadership team on raising funds and continuing the support of the Chinese Senior Citizens Society to ensure the monthly luncheons and the free services can happen and help these seniors maintain their independence.

Caroline Van

Advisor Caroline Hsiao Van

Advisor Caroline Hsiao Van is an independent advisor based in Hong Kong, and founding partner of worldwide mentorship platform, IvySpace, for peer-to-peer online English learning, academics, and advice. Prior work experience includes business development, sales and trading, management, and strategic planning in the USA and Asia, at Morgan Stanley, Citibank, Bankers Trust, and an internet startup. She holds a B.A. from Yale and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. A veteran in volunteer services, she has worked on boards of educational, environmental, and music organizations, is President emeritus of the Yale Club of Hong Kong, and serves on the Board of Governors of the Yale Alumni Association. Her interest in US-China friendship began during a family trip to China in 1973 sponsored by the U.S. Academy of Sciences and National Science Foundation. She was first exposed to open space management while working successive summers for the St. Paul District, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. A passion for nature conservation and youth empowerment led her to co-found China’s Green Long March movement for sustainable development.

Mayor George Latimer

Advisor Former Mayor George Latimer

Advisor Former Mayor George Latimer was the Mayor of St. Paul from 1976 to 1990. He is known for his redevelopment of St. Paul’s downtown core, serving as mayor during a period when St. Paul’s population was declining somewhat as some residents moved to suburban areas while the city’s ethnic diversity increased as, among others, Hmong refugees from Vietnam and Laos resettled in Saint Paul. He served as dean of Hamline University’s law school from 1990 to 1993. Latimer was also CEO of the National Equity Fund, which manages and provides affordable housing in 35 cities. He also worked in the business world, served as a Regent of the University of Minnesota, and worked as an arbitrator.

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Advisor Bill Harrison

Advisor Bill Harrison is a Civil Engineering graduate from University of Minnesota and a lifetime member of the Alumni Association. He is a registered Structural Engineer in Minnesota, Florida, Colorado and Wisconsin. Although Bill has retired as Vice President of Construction for Target Stores, he is currently President of Harrison Development, Inc. He has developed hotels, office buildings, warehouses, banks, shopping centers, a marina, clinics and condominiums. He is a Construction consultant for Target Stores and Bob Ulrich, former CEO of Target Stores. Projects include Target’s downtown Minneapolis headquarters; office buildings in Phoenix, Arizona; office buildings and data centers for Target in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota; office space for Target in downtown Manhattan, New York; the Musical Instrument Museum for Bob Ulrich in Phoenix, Arizona; partial remodel of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) and the addition of the new Target Wing; and various high end residences in Minnesota and Arizona. The MIA expansion of Chinese galleries in 2006 resulted in the naming of Gallery 201 as The William and Barbara Harrison Gallery.

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Advisor Bill Pesek

Advisor Bill Pesek is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, ASLA and is a licensed landscape architect in the State of Minnesota. His professional experience spans over 40 years with the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Design Section and involves numerous parks and playground projects including Phalen Park, Como, Highland and Crosby Farm Park. He was author of the Como Conservatory Master Plan and co-author of Street Tree Master Plan and project manager/landscape architect for Highland Park Redevelopment, $13M Restoration of the Como Conservatory, $17M Oxford Community Center Development, and Restoration of the Charlotte Ordway Japanese Garden in Como Park and now continues in his own landscape architectural practice. His work has taken him to Japan and China where he collaborated with a Master Landscape Architect, Masami Matsuda from Nagasaki on the restoration of the Japanese Garden in Como Park.   Over the last 10 years, he has been working with China Garden Society, and selected and recommended a building site and was instrumental in having the Chinese Garden concept and site location included in the Phalen Regional Park’s Master Plan of 2011.   He has received numerous awards and traveled to China in 2008 to wtiness the signing of a historic Sister City Friendship Rededication Declaration with Changsha, while serving as an official Mayoral delegate with Mayor Chris Coleman.

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Advisor Christine Podas-Larson

Advisor Christine Podas-Larson is a recognized leader and innovator in the arts with expertise and broad experience in multiple-media public art production. In 1987 she founded the non-profit Public Art Saint Paul (PASP) and served as its President/CEO and Executive Producer for 28 years. She forged and sustained a nationally unique public/private partnership with the City of Saint Paul and was the chief author of Saint Paul’s cutting edge public art ordinance. She conceived of and nurtured growth of the unique City Artist program that brought forth award-winning projects such as Sidewalk Poetry, Urban Flower Field, and Meeting Fleet. Since retiring from PASP in 2015, Christine is a sought-after and compelling speaker and educator, offering expert perspective on the role of artists in shaping cities and in fostering social and environmental change. She produced the 2006 International Stone Carving Symposium that brought Master Lei Yi Xin and other artists from around the globe to carve sculptures from Minnesota rocks. The experience led directly to Master Lei’s commission to create the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington DC. In response to a hideous hate crime in 2008, she produced Marcus Young’s Unity Ceremony at Phalen Park, healing the community by turning “fear into fearlessness.”

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Advisor Noah Vang

Advisor Noah Vang is a community researcher and volunteer based in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is an author of a 412-page book entitled General Vang Pao: An Illustration of His Remarkable Life and co-curated the national award-winning exhibit “We Are Hmong Minnesota/Peb Yog Hmoob Minnesota” at the Minnesota Historical Society (2015). Vang is a Hmong history enthusiast. Throughout his research, he has gathered one of the largest Hmong photographic collections of his people’s experiences in China, Laos, in the refugee camps in Thailand and the United States; and he has contributed his works to several institutions nationally for their exhibits.

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Advisor Ming Tchou

Advisor Ming Tchou was born in Guangzhou, China, and came to the U.S. in 1953 with her husband. She is an entrepreneur, global thinker, and dedicated volunteer. She is a founding member of the Chinese Senior Citizens Society and was its first president for 10 years.   Between 1984-1996, she led many group tours (over 10) to China, including the first one from the Midwest organized by the U.S. China People Friendship Association (USCPFA), another organization of which she was a founding member.   She is the recipient of numerous awards, among them the leadership award from the Council of Asian Pacific Minnesotans. She is the founder of the Chinese Heritage Foundation established at the Minneapolis Foundation and the inspiration for the commissioning and funding of the “Dream of the Red Chamber” opera and its world premiere in San Francisco in September 2016.