2021-2022 School Year
HAPA’s Executive Team Newsletter
Welcome to a new school year. It is so wonderful to see our scholars in school again. We have missed seeing the scholars on campus and their eagerness to continuously learn! This is such an exciting moment for our HAPA community, and supports our 2021-2022 theme: WE ARE HAPA!
A special welcome to our high school scholars and staff members in our brand-new high school! We are thrilled to share this space as we return to in-person learning. All around you can see the expertise of the men and women who built this building from the ground up. The gleaming new classrooms; the sparkling floors; the state of the art technology; and the ample creative spaces. These all contribute to our goal of offering our scholars a truly 21st century education.
But what matters the most cannot be found in just a building. Rather, what makes HAPA what it is today and what will drive us Forever Forward is the HAPA FAMILIES (parents/guardians, scholars, and staff members). HAPA is what it is today because of the hard work and careful planning of so many. Our scholars’ parents and grandparents, our teachers and staff, the community and of course our scholars.
What modestly began as a K-5 school in 2004 has today grown to nearly 1,800 students in K4 through 12th grade striving to achieve their very best. Our work has been quiet and humble. Our achievements have been reached deliberately.
WE ARE HAPA, and we are taking another confident step forward in sharing with the community what makes our school community so special. We will be celebrating the new high school building (as a representation of our HAPA Families) on October 22nd, 2021. I want to thank our Board of Directors, including Jason Handal, our board chair, Dan Gentges, our facilities chair, Dave Smith, our finance chair and others. These men and women are servants to our community. They have robust careers and lives of their own yet share our passion for HAPA and all it can be.
As you’ve heard me say many times, our vision, is “Forever Forward.” We say “Forever Forward” because we are always working to improve. To make today better than yesterday. WE ARE HAPA because we aspire to become one of the very best schools in the state of Wisconsin and I know we cannot do it without you.
My heart is filled with gratitude for our abundant blessings because WE ARE HAPA. And as I lead HAPA, I am most especially grateful for each of the HAPA Families. Thank you for everything you do for our scholars and our school community. WE ARE HAPA!
Meet HAPA’s Executive Team
Ms. Chris Her-Xiong
Founder/Chief Executive Officer
Ms. Her-Xiong is the Founder/CEO of the Hmong American Peace Academy, Ltd. (HAPA) that operates a high-performing and award-winning K4-12 charter school, opening in August of 2004 with over 200 students as the first Hmong Charter School in Wisconsin. To date, the Academy has attracted over 800 families with nearly 1,800 students. Under Ms. Her-Xiong’s leadership, HAPA has been named Wisconsin School of Recognition for the last ten years by the Department of Public Instruction and the Charter School of the Year by the Milwaukee Charter School Advocates. The Academy has also earned National Bronze Medal recognitions in the US News and World Report.
Ms. Her-Xiong was the first Hmong teacher and principal in the City of Milwaukee. She was a recipient of the Doug Jansson Leadership Award honoring inspirational leadership in the nonprofit sector by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. Ms. Her-Xiong was named Hmong Woman of the Year. She was the recipient of the Outstanding Alumna of the Year by Alverno College. Ms. Her-Xiong was named the Milwaukee Business Journal 2016’s Woman of Influence. Her desire is to stand as a beacon of hope and inspiration; as she is always able to lead.
Ms. Mai Shoua Xiong
Chief of Staff
Ms. Mai Shoua Xiong is currently serving as the Chief of Staff. For the previous five years, Mai Shoua served as the Human Resources Administrator and was the Interim Educational Leader for the Primary Division for one year. Her greatest initiative is to provide the leadership that will facilitate in attracting and retaining the very best educators who can provide a rigorous education while building on the strengths of the students’ cultural heritage.
Ms. Mai Shoua graduated with a BS degree on a full scholarship in 1998 from Alverno College. She began her teaching career in MPS in the fall of 1998. In 2003, she graduated from the UW-Milwaukee with her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. She taught in MPS for 17 years. Ms. Mai Shoua was recognized for her contributions as a classroom teacher in 2015 and was named a Herb Kohl Fellowship award recipient and Wisconsin’s Elementary Teacher of the Year. This was a tremendous accomplishment for her since she is a refugee child. Ms. Mai Shoua has been married for 27 years to her husband, Aily Yang. Together, they have 8 children (6 boys and 2 girls). Her love for children and their learning, as well as her commitment to the educational field, continues to guide the choices she makes to ensure a quality education for all children no matter their background or challenges they face.
Mr. Brendan Kearney
Chief Academic Officer
Mr. Kearney joins the HAPA team for his twenty-first year as an educator. He taught high school English for many years in both private and public schools, here in Wisconsin, in New York City, and internationally. Mr. Kearney also served as a department chair, athletic director, and most recently, secondary administrator. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Macalester College, a master’s degree in teaching from Pace University, and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mr. Kearney is a Milwaukee native, who returns to the city with his wife, Elizabeth, and two children, Marion (7) and Leon (5).
In his role as Chief Academic Officer, Mr. Kearney is committed to creating the conditions where all students receive the rigorous, high-quality instruction they need in order to succeed in college, careers, and community leadership. He is excited to be joining a group of educators who are so devoted to serving the Hmong students and families of Milwaukee.
Ms. Janeen Meifert
Chief Financial Officer
Ms. Janeen Meifert is currently serving as HAPA’s Chief Financial Officer. Her most recent experience was serving as CFO in a Higher Education University and Finance Manager in an investment company. Ms. Meifert’s passion for education has grown through watching young men and women achieve their dreams of graduating college and looks forward to helping the Hmong community achieve their educational dreams as well.
Ms. Meifert graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from UW-Milwaukee in 2000. Janeen has been married for 12 years to her husband, Mike. Their family includes 2 children, Parker and Jayna.
Ms. Meifert’s recent experience with sponsoring Jayna, a young lady from Jamaica, through college has proven the mission that education can provide a path out of poverty.