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Mala Thao

Associate Vice President, Major Gifts

Inspiration: “If we want to see change in our lives, we have to change things ourselves.” —Grace Lee Boggs

What working in this community means to me: “As a Hmong/Thai refugee American I am passionate about creating a more inclusive and positive working space for all. Working in this community enables me to help organizations and staff to have a deeper understanding of the many facets of identity, justice and equity.”

As the Associate Vice President of Major Gifts, Mala helps donors become smarter philanthropists and strengthens Greater Twin Cities United Way’s mission to advocate for social good and develop solutions to address the challenges communities face.

Mala started her career in philanthropy more than 20 years ago with Women’s Foundation of Minnesota and gained additional fundraising experience in various nonprofits and foundations, such as Washburn Center for Children, Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, Indian Land Tenure Foundation and American Red Cross. Prior to joining GTCUW, Mala was a philanthropic advisor at Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation for 10 years.

Mala grew up on St. Paul’s Eastside and now calls the city’s Frogtown neighborhood home. She is a fierce advocate for social justice and has volunteered on boards and committees, such as Headwaters Foundation for Justice and Facilitating Race & Equity Conference (FREC). Mala has been appointed by the Mayor of St. Paul to serve as Commissioner of the Human Rights & Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO) and has also been appointed by the Metropolitan Council to serve on the Livable Communities Advisory Committee (LCAC). When Mala is not working or fighting for social justice, she spends her time as a foodie.

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