Faces of Christmas

Women in the Hmong community can thank her for help empowering their lives

Tonnah Her stands with a few prom dresses she has collected as part of her effort to amass formal dresses for a prom giveaway every year for young Hmong women who can’t afford to buy their own dresses.
Tonnah Her stands with a few prom dresses she has collected as part of her effort to amass formal dresses for a prom giveaway every year for young Hmong women who can’t afford to buy their own dresses. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

The basics: Tonnah Her, 47, is a business builder and marketing director. She has been married to Teng Fang for 28 years and has three children: daughters Christiana and Cydney, who are in their 20s, and teenage son Devon.

What she does: In 2014, Her helped relaunch Hmong Women Today, a Fresno organization encouraging Hmong women’s empowerment. Through the group, she has spearheaded an effort to collect formal dresses for a prom giveaway every year for young Hmong women who can’t afford to buy their own dresses. But this year the group is asking for more than dresses and is looking for “anything that will make prom special,” she said. Additionally, Her leads community members and the organization in collecting money or donations for families in need after tragedy strikes.

Why she does it: “I felt a gap in culture and generations among Hmong women in my community,” Her said. She said this kept generations distant from each other, and “I wanted to bring them together.  I do what I do because I like seeing others discover their passion and purpose come to life through service to others. There’s magic in doing for others that I just can’t explain.”

faces_Her_02
Tonnah Her has spearheaded an effort to amass formal dresses for a prom giveaway every year for young Hmong women who can’t afford to buy their own dresses. CRAIG KOHLRUSS ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

A special moment: In the midst of her work, Her realized, “We were so different, yet alike in so many ways.  It continues to be an amazing experience for all the women to come together and do things together.”

Details, details: When Her became involved in Hmong Women Today in the spring of 2014, Her wanted to give women the opportunity to come together to learn about who they are and how to improve themselves. She said the organization allows them to build a network, socialize with others and share ideas and experiences. “I also bring women together to plan and host events such as community projects, retreats, workshops and networking opportunities,” Her said. The key word to describe the organization: empowerment.

What others say: “What I admire about Tonnah is her ability to see the talent and gift of each person she meets,” said Choua Chang, a friend of Her’s for three years and friend of her family for decades. “She is supportive and encouraging and does her best to promote growth, whether it’s personal development or business.” Chang said Her has always been giving and the list of activities and initiatives she has participated in is endless.

How you can help: Her said the organization is in need of gently used prom dresses, men’s suits and tuxedos, accessories, dry cleaning, alterations, hairdressers and makeup artists. She said the organization is also looking to host a workshop to promote higher education and is looking for two motivational speakers, donations of snacks, beverages and raffle prizes. To donate, contact Her at tonnah@hmongwomentoday.com.

Jessica Johnson: 559-441-6051, @iamjesslj

  Comments