May Saechao is a life long native of the Pacific Northwest, oldest of seven siblings, and born and raised
in Oregon from refugee parents. May’s Iu Mien ethnic background originated from China. As a refugee
of the Laotian Civil War, May’s family was a part of the largest refugee resettlements in United States
May’s passion for advocacy stems from life experiences which helped shape her overall perspectives,
compassion, and empathy for others. Her work is deeply rooted in the resiliency and perseverance of
the Iu Mien people through its history of hardship and oppression.
May grew up in a working-class
family whose parents experienced the many challenges that all working class families encounter.
However, she realized that people that are disadvantaged had to work harder to access resources from
our public and private institutions. The system barriers that families continue to experience motivates
her work as an advocate for families who experience poverty and lack the necessary resources and tools
Today, you can find May in spaces that allow her to simultaneously work on systems and
institutional barriers while advocating for the underrepresented, and giving a voice to these
May continues to raise awareness and educate other communities about the rich culture of the Iu Mien,
and speak for marginalized folks who continue to be left out of conversations. May believes in the value
of relationships and building but earning the trust of the people, which is where you will see May
devoting much of her time in community events interacting with constituents.
May earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Criminology with a minor in Psychology at Portland State
University. She has extensive experience working as a public servant for the State of Oregon, where she
currently works as an Advocate for Department of Justice – Civil Rights Unit, helping those needing
assistance surrounding hate crimes, bias incidents, or victims of sanctuary promise violations. May has
spent the last 15+ yrs working in public safety in a variety of roles. Much of her decision to enter this
field had much to do with her experience as a woman and challenging herself to go outside of the norm,
breaking the cultural expectations in her family and community.
Outside of community advocacy and her professional life, Ms. Saechao’s leisure time includes spending
it with her husband, children, dog, close friends, and extended family. As oldest of seven siblings, May
feels blessed to have a large family and even larger extended family and very much enjoys family
gatherings. Her hobbies include culinary everything (cooking and eating), traveling, indulging in
documentaries, Chinese historical series, and true crime shows