P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Yer Thao, 1999

Professor of Education, Graduate School of Education, Portland State University

Yer Thao is a refugee from Laos

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a PhD in Education at Claremont Graduate University

YER THAO is a professor of education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction of the Graduate School of Education at Portland State University.

Dr. Thao was born the youngest of seven children. From the time he was a baby his father served in the Royal Laos army, which had close ties to the CIA. He fled with his mother and siblings after the Communists began a genocidal campaign against the Mong/Hmong and eventually settled in Northern California. Members of a pre-literate mountain tribal culture, none had any formal education.

Dr. Thao gained admission to Humboldt State University, receiving his BA and his elementary teaching credential. He received his MA in education from California State University Monterey Bay and Ph.D. in education in July 2002 from Claremont Graduate University. He was very involved in community and youth violence prevention activities in Eureka City schools. He received several awards for his work.

Dr. Thao was the first peace prize maker recipient in Humboldt County, California. He had numerous articles and a book publications. His book was selected to be the outstanding academic title by Choice Magazine in 2009. Dr. Thao has completed his research 5 year study of an after school program in Portland that aims to teach Mong language and culture to children in the Portland area. He is working on another research about bilingual and bicultural identity.

Dr. Thao is living with his wife Vilay S. Thao and children in Beaverton, Oregon.

  • PhD Education | Claremont Graduate University 2002
  • Elementary School Teaching Credit | Humboldt State University 1994
  • BA Liberal Studies | Humboldt State University 1993
  • MA Education | California State University - Monterey Bay
Work History
  • Graduate School of Education, Portland State University, Professor of Education
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