#iumienwomenmoversandshakers: Lai Saelee

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

I think the most significant barrier to female leadership are hidden gender biases. In society, there are natural gender biases that people express without explicitly meaning to diminish the power or leadership of women. 

What is one event that helped shape your life?

One event that helped shape my life (for the better) is having my daughter. It has improved my patience, dedication, and wanting to become a better person overall because I am her first role model. 

What’s one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make and how did it impact your life?


I have not had many tough decisions, but I guess one of the toughest decisions was deciding if I still wanted to continue my undergrad degree. I did poorly my first year in college and was academically disqualified. I contemplated on the idea of leaving school completely to start a career with the state. I was in a state of mind that college was not for me and was very discouraged. Mainly because I realized that my college route was chosen for me. Meaning that I was guided into a degree field that I did not agree with and I was unhappy. In the end, I registered at a community college and rebooted my educational career. This helped me find my passion and reason for wanting to help others. 

What is an accomplishment you are proud of?

One accomplishment that I am proud of is being involved with the Iu Mien Student Conference (IMSC) planning for the 20th conference celebration! One of our goals this year was to reach out to Elk Grove schools because it has only been Sacramento district schools for the past 19 years. I volunteered to become the student outreach coordinator as well as becoming vice-chair for this year. I was able to get in contact with EGUSD's district head counselor and was allowed to personally outreach to five of their selected schools. I was able to meet and speak with nearly 200 students. I met with counselors and communicated with them via phone/email on a weekly basis to ensure student engagement and participation. I am very proud of my dedication and hard work I put forth on this outreach because we were able to gain over 60 total student participants to attend IMSC 20! Given it's our first year having EGUSD join the IMSC, I am happy with those numbers. I'm glad my efforts paid off and personally outreaching to the students made an impact. 

If there was a young girl out there who wanted to do what you did, what would you tell her?

I would tell her to find her passion and do what is right for her. There is no better path led unless it starts with YOU. 

How can people get a hold of you? i.e., social media, phone number

You can always find me on Instagram @lalailove 

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