William Zajicek, President

Bill Zajicek is the President  of the MN China Friendship Garden Society (2020) and 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 Co-founder 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.

Linda Mealey-Lohmann, Secretary

Linda Mealey-Lohmann is the Co-Founder of the MN China Friendship Garden Society (2005) and was its President from 2005 to 2020.  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 23 times over nearly forty 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.

Chen Zhou, Vice President

Chen Zhou was a board member of US-China Peoples Friendship Association-MN Chapter for 6 years. He is currently the Chair of MCFGS Chinese Advisory Group. In 2018, Chen along with a number of Chinese volunteers planned and executed a grass roots media campaign. Through their efforts, there have been over 10 Chinese articles published in a short period time in various media: local newspapers, WeChat links, World Journal, etc. Chen and his team also organized a sister-city gift Reveal party for 300 guests, helped organize the 2019 Grand Opening Gala Banquet, mobilized a grass roots donation campaign that resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in donations, and has supported various Chinese activities. Chen is regarded as one of the leaders in the Chinese community.

Ken Lau, Treasurer

Ken Lau was born in China but grew up in Hong Kong. He came to Minnesota in 1965 to attend the University of Minnesota. After getting a BA in Economics and MBA in finance, he started his management career in the Twin Cities, working for Fortune 500 companies such as Burlington Northern, Dayton Hudson and International Multifoods. As China opened up to the rest of the world, he returned to work in Hong Kong and China, first for multinational companies such as Digital Equipment, American Standard and later for TIW of Canada as its CFO in a joint venture project with China Unicom in Hunan.  Ken has been very active serving the local community in Minnesota. He was president and board member of CAAM in 1975. He served on the Board of Accountancy of Minnesota from 1992 to 1995. He is also a Board member of the U.S.-China People’s Friendship Association of Minnesota and Board member and Treasurer of the Chinese Heritage Foundation Friends.   Ken is retired professionally. He has two grown children living in Minneapolis and San Francisco respectively. He is fluent in both Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese.

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

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.

Snowdon Herr, Executive at Large Member

Snowdon Herr is a new board member of the Minnesota China Garden Society for the 2020 – 2022 term.  Before this, he was a representative from the Hmong 18 council of Minnesota to the MCFGS Hmong Cultural Plaza Advisory Group, as a its Vice President from 2017 -2020 term with HCPAG President Ying-Heu-Chu Yang.  In addition, he is serving as a Hawj United of Minnesota’s President for 2020-2022 term.  He has also been appointed by the Hmong 18 Council of Minnesota to chair its current Covid – 19 Anti-Asian American Discrimination Task Force Committee.  He has been very active in the local community and is very familiar with the MN China Garden Society and its projects at Phalen Lake.

Joyce C.Y. Yuan Hsiao,  Executive at Large Member

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.

Romi Slowiak

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. She is currently a Community Arts Activist, and a former transportation & urban planner for consulting firms & government. She also has worked in interior design.  She is the 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. She is enamored of Asian cultures and has lived in Malaysia. She supports classical music concerts and classes. She loves badminton and practices Mulan Chuan.

Moua Wang-Yu Vu

Moua Wang-Yu Vu is an entrepreneur and is the broker of Wang-Yu Realty, LLC since 2002.  He is also currently working for the MN DFL Party as the AAPI Community Engagement Director for the 2020 election cycle.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Information Systems from the Metropolitan State University in 1999. He has unselfishly devoted a lot of time to public service, community service, and family service.  From 2002 to 2016, he served on the board of the Vue Family of MN organization. In 2016, Wang-Yu and his wife, Maychy Vu, were the first Hmong American couple to become both MN DFL state delegates and the first Hmong American couple in the country to become both national delegates at the Democratic National Convention for Hilary Clinton.  Today, Wang-Yu Vu is proud to be one of the founders of the Peb Hmong American Caucus.  He is currently serves as the president of the caucus.

Mary Warpeha, Executive at Large Member

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.

Joanie Xuejiao Zhang

Joanie Xuejiao Zhang is a certified food and nutrition scientist. She came from China to Minnesota for graduate education in nutrition science from UMN in 2011. She has been actively involved in local community activities and taken lead roles in MN China Friendship Garden Society, Twin Cities Chinese Dance Center, Minnesota Chinese Commerce Association, and Institute of Food Technology-MN. She has her passion in promoting Chinese culture and US-China friendships. In her spare time, she enjoys playing traditional musical instrument Guzheng, Latin Dance and painting.

In Memoriam