Linda Mealey-Lohmann, President
Linda Mealey-Lohmann is the President and Co-Founder of the MN China Friendship Garden Society (2005) and manages the day-to-day operations of the organization. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in East Asian Studies, a Master’s Degree in Chinese Language and Literature, and is fluent in Mandarin Chinese. She has taught Chinese at all levels, from preschool to college, and has traveled to China 22 times over thirty-five years. She is an avid gardener, and has a deep interest in China, Chinese culture, and China Gardens. She received her law degree from the University of Minnesota and works as a mediator and arbitrator, helping parties in conflict avoid going to court and resolve their disputes (formerly an employment law litigator). She is past Vice President of the US-China Peoples Friendship Association-MN Chapter and has helped to organize several public cultural China-related events.
N. Walter Graff
N. Walter Graff is a founding board member and former Secretary of the MN China Friendship Garden Society. He practiced law first in Boston and then for about 42 years at Best & Flanagan in Minneapolis, concentrating principally on development and management of real estate. At various times, he has served as an Adjunct Professor at the U of M Law School, a Chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota, a 20-year member of the Bar Association’s ad hoc committee on common ownership, a longtime member of US-China Peoples Friendship Association-MN [where he met his wife, Margaret Wong], board member of Yinghua Academy, Board Chair of the first accredited school of acupuncture and oriental medicine in Minnesota [“MIAHS”], and for the last 14 years, Trustee of Northwestern Health Sciences University into which MIAHS merged.
Barbara Harrison is a founding board member of the MN China Friendship Garden Society (2005). She has been a member of US-China Peoples Friendship Association-Minnesota (USCPFA-MN) since 1979, USCPFA-MN President 1989-1991, and USCPFA-National President 1991-2005. In 2005, USCPFA bestowed its highest award, the Koji Ariyoshi Award on Barbara. In 2004, Barbara was the 5th American awarded the title of Friendship Ambassador by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Beijing, China. She holds AA and BA degrees from the University of Minnesota and was named a U of MN College of Liberal Arts Notable Achievement Honoree. Barbara is a lifetime U of MN Alumni Association member. Since 1986, she has traveled to China more than 25 times, the most recent being in November 2018 to attend the Friendship Forum in Hainan, China.
Joyce C.Y. Yuan Hsiao, Vice President
Joyce C.Y. Yuan Hsiao (Mrs. C.C. Hsiao) is a founding board member of the MN China Friendship Garden Society, as well as of US-China Peoples Friendship Association-MN. She is a retired scientist, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from Fu Jen University, now Beijing Normal University, and received her Master’s Degree in Chemistry and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Pennsylvania State University. She conducted research at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Minnesota. She was a visiting scholar in Nobel Laureate Lord Todd’s laboratory at Cambridge University, England. During her extensive travels in Europe and Asia, she was particularly enamored by the beauty of the gardens, which has inspired a lifelong interest in gardening. She was the first Asian American appointed by the Governor of Minnesota to serve as a member of the Minnesota Governor’s Residence Council.
Weiming Lu is an Urban Designer and former President of Lowertown Redevelopment Corporation and a former trustee of the Minneapolis Foundation. He is our chief advisor for the China Garden projects. He has a proven track record locally and internationally for completing large-scale projects and obtaining funding. His work includes Mears Park (a calm oasis in downtown St. Paul with a band shell, a stream, and landscaping; $ 1.8 million), the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary ($8.3 million to date), his role as an advisor to the Beijing Olympics, among many other projects. His many awards include the Presidential Award for Design Excellence, and the Community Design Excellence Award from the Minnesota Chapter, American Society of Landscape Architects, and the River Steward award from the Riverfront Corporation. In 2013, he published The Tao of Urban Rejuvenation: Building a Livable Creative Urban Village, in Chinese and English (Beaver’s Pond Press). His experience continues to be invaluable to this project. Read Weiming’s publications: “Deepening Our Roots“ and “Shan Shui Spirit in Chinese Garden.” Click here to read 2018-5 China Insight article about Weiming.
Romi Slowiak, Secretary
Romi Slowiak is a Community Arts Activist. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University and a Masters of Urban & Regional Planning from George Washington University. Currently a Community Arts Activist. Former transportation & urban planner for consulting firms & government. Has worked in interior design. Is founding Executive Director of the East Side Arts Council & manager of a 6-year-old multi-cultural arts festival that featured Hmong dancers, artists, and emcee. Is enamored of Asian cultures. Lived in Malaysia. Supports classical music concerts and classes. Loves badminton. Practices Mulan Chuan.
Ganying Jeff Vang
Ganying Jeff Vang is employed as an Insurance & Financial Services agent (independent agent). His native language is Hmong, and also speaks Thai/Lao, Mandarin Chinese, and English. He received a BA in East Asian Studies from the University of MN, Twins cities. He is an active volunteer for: 1) HBC TV host (Hmong Twins cities public Television) (since 2009); 2) Board member for Temple of Hmongism, a Hmong Traditional religious organization (since 2013); 3) Hmong Language and culture researcher (Hmong language Inc) (since 2012). He has been to China three times. One time as a student to Nankai University 1997 and two times in 2014 & 2015 to do research on Hmong/Miao language and culture in three provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, and Guangxi.
Mary Warpeha is a founding board member of the MN China Friendship Garden Society, as well as Board Member and past President of US-China Peoples Friendship Association-MN. She has a BA in Sociology from the University of Minnesota and BA and MA degrees in English as a Second Language from Hamline University. Mary has taught English language and American culture as a volunteer and staff member for 20 years at all learning levels in China and Minnesota, traveling to China frequently. During her life, she has been married for 48 years to Walter Warpeha, Jr. and has three children. Mary has acted as Director of Commonwealth Terrace Community Center at the U of MN. She has managed and been involved in the family Prosthodontic Clinic in Northeast Minneapolis. Among Mary’s treasured relationships is an Honorary Citizenship presented to her by the farmers in the small village of An Shang Village in Shaanxi Province.
Chu Wu is the Chief Executive Owner of Koobmoo Funeral Chapel in Eastside of St. Paul and Koobmoo Spiritual Center in Maplewood. Also, he is the founder of The Special Forces in Laos Memorial at the Minnesota State Capitol Ground. He has a Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution and Bachelor’s degree in Peace Studies and History. In the Asian community, he is well known as a mediator, arbitrator, peacemaker and consultant. Chu had worked and served as a board member or advisor for many community organizations, schools, courts, police departments and Southeast Asian businesses in Saint Paul and Minneapolis. He trained many community organizations, family groups and new Asian businesses to become knowledgeable about conflict resolution programs, community policing, restorative justice, crime prevention resources, law enforcement and the legal system in Minnesota. Currently, he is retiring from the law enforcement and continuing to run the funeral business.
Bill Zajicek, Interim Treasurer
Bill Zajicek is a recently retired 3M engineer, with a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in Business & Community Development from Metro State University. He spent 4 years living and working in Malaysia, including opening a new factory. He is Vice President of the local St. Paul District Planning Council and Cofounder of its Environmental Committee. He was raised building homes with his father’s business. He does his own architectural renderings, is an avid gardener, took painting and art classes during college, and is a runner and a swimmer.
Chen Zhou was a board member of USCPFA for 6 years. He is currently the Chair of MCFGS Chinese Advisory Group. In the last 3 months, Chen along with a number of Chinese volunteers have planned and executed a grass roots campaign. Through their efforts, there have been over 10 Chinese articles published in that short period time in various media: local newspapers, WeChat links, World Journal, etc. Chen with his team also organized a sister-city gift Reveal party for 300 guests, mobilized a grass roots donation campaign, and has supported various Chinese activities. Chen is regarded as one of the leaders in the Chinese community.