Skip to main content

U of M regent, local Hmong leader dies at age 52

Kao Ly Ilean Her died Thursday.
Kao Ly Ilean Her

Kao Ly Ilean Her

Kao Ly Ilean Her, a Hmong-American leader and University of Minnesota Board regent, has died at age 52 from complications of COVID-19.

Her, an active civic leader who devoted her life to improving the lives of Hmong women, died Thursday with "a few of her family members by her side, and the rest of her family present via video," a Go Fund Me page dedicated to creating a memorial fund in her honor says. 

She was born in Laos and fled to the United States in 1976. Her graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School and was the first Hmong woman admitted to the Minnesota Bar Association, the Pioneer Press says

She founded several nonprofits, was the chief executive officer of the Hmong Elders Center, an adult day center serving Hmong seniors in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, and was the executive director of the State of Minnesota Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans, her bio on the University of Minnesota's website and the Go Fund Me page say.

Her, the first Hmong woman elected to the U of M's Board of Regents in 2019, was serving a six-year term.

U of M Board of Regents Chair Ken Powell said of Her, “I and my colleagues on the Board of Regents are devastated to learn about Ilean’s passing. Ilean’s death is not only the loss of a great colleague, but also the significant loss of a strong voice for diversity and inclusion in the Minnesota communities the University serves. 

"She regularly used that voice in support of making the University affordable and accessible to all Minnesotans. Ilean was on the Board for a far too brief time, but she quickly established herself as a careful listener and a true champion for higher education in Minnesota. My Board colleagues and all of us at the University of Minnesota send our deepest condolences to Ilean’s family and her many many friends.”

In a statement, U of M President Joan Gabel said:

“I am heartbroken to learn about Ilean’s passing. She was such a strong advocate for the University of Minnesota and for all members of our University community. And for me personally, I sincerely appreciated the warmth of her welcome to me when I became president shortly after she joined the Board of Regents. Her service to the entire state of Minnesota, and in particular to Minnesota’s Hmong and Asian American Pacific Islander communities, is well known and celebrated. All of us at the University of Minnesota are proud to count her as an alum, as an advocate and as a friend, and we are inspired to carry on her service in all that we do. We send our very best wishes to her loved ones as they celebrate her life and legacy.”

By law, the Minnesota Legislature will elect someone to serve the remainder of Her's term on the Board of Regents, the Pioneer Press says, noting that Gov. Tim Walz may appoint someone temporarily until the Legislature can act on this.

Next Up

Semi into house near Sturgis, South Dakota

Semi drives into house near Sturgis, South Dakota

The force from the semi was so strong that the foundation of the house was moved.

ambulance

18-year-old from Zumbrota dies in Goodhue County crash

The crash happened in rural Goodhue County around 8:45 a.m. Wednesday.

thomas beach, bde maka ska - lake calhoun

3 Minneapolis beaches closed due to E. coli contamination

No illnesses have been reported, according to the MPRB.

Hockeyland1

'Hockeyland' documentary debuting in Minnesota movie theaters

The documentary has received great reviews at numerous film festivals.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Former Minnesota Olympic runner accused of driving drunk in Eden Prairie crash

Police said the man's blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit.

ATV

Man, 79, killed in ATV rollover near Faribault

The man was declared dead at the scene.

minneapolis police

Woman fighting for her life after shooting in Minneapolis

The woman was shot only about a half-hour after a 14-year-old suffered critical injuries in an apparent accidental discharge.

prior lake high school

Two students face discipline over racist messages at Prior Lake High School

Families and students were largely uncooperative with the investigation.

Sharon and Herb Vasser

Cause of Hopkins house explosion that killed couple revealed

Sharon and Herb Vassar were killed in the explosion. Herb built the home back in 1962.

Arrows on target

Charges: Minnesota camp counselor fired arrows at kids, injuring boy

An 8-year-old boy was shot in the arm with an arrow.

North Shore Mayor Chris Swanson.

Two Harbors votes overwhelmingly to recall Mayor Chris Swanson

The mayor had been scrutinized for several things leading up to the vote Tuesday.

Screen Shot 2022-08-10 at 8.43.50 AM

Suspected gunman at large after homicide near Albert Lea

The 32-year-old suspect was last seen in a 2004 white Ford F-150 with Minnesota license number EUZ-057.

Related

chenue her

St. Paul native is first Hmong male news anchor in the US

Chenue Her is the newest anchor on "Good Morning Iowa."

police tape, crime scene

Boy killed in shooting near U of M campus

"The police department is not looking for any additional parties," the MPD said.

SARS-CoV-2, novel coronavirus

U of M study finds hydroxychloroquine drug doesn't prevent COVID-19

President Donald Trump has touted the drug and said he takes it.

parisi

U of M professor falsely accused of rape wins $1.2M

He was falsely accused of rape and stalking in 2017.

U of M regents chairwoman asks for legal review in Sviggum case

University of Minnesota Board of Regents Chairwoman Linda Cohen is asking two attorneys to review Steve Sviggum's dual roles to determine whether he may have a conflict of interest. Sviggum, who currently serves the university as a regent, also recently took a staff job with the Senate Republican Caucus.

U of M wins prestigious award for its libraries

There's a ceremony to present the medal this afternoon.