The Wisconsin Community Action Program Association (WISCAP), the statewide association for Wisconsin’s 16 Community Action Agencies, recognized CAP Services’ Chai Moua with the Exemplary Community Action Staff Member Award at its annual meeting Wednesday, May 6, in Madison.
“I am honored to receive this award, though credit is really due to all the advocates in the state,” said Moua. “My accomplishments are the accomplishments of so many, who have and continue to work hard on behalf of victims of domestic violence.”
Moua came to CAP Services in 2005 to coordinate CAP’s Refugee Family Strengthening (RFS) Program, which focuses on addressing domestic violence in the Hmong community. In this role, Moua provides leadership training for new advocates and challenges and educates others to provide better services for Hmong victims and survivors. Moua assisted in the development of the Hmong Women’s Training Institute, which provides training for new staff and professionals working with Hmong women.
“It was a very difficult position,” said Mary Patoka, CAP’s President and CEO. “Several staff before her left that position after short tenure because the topic of domestic violence is a difficult one to deal with. CAP’s Family Crisis Center became known as the ‘divorce house’ within the local Hmong community, making the decision for Hmong victims of violence to use the shelter even more difficult.”
With 10 years under her belt, Moua changed the pattern of short-term staff tenure in her role.
Knowing that change had to happen across age groups, Moua worked with Stevens Point Area Senior High School to develop a Hmong Brothers group and a group for young Hmong women, focusing on healthy relationships and gender roles.
Moua helped organized the first ever “A Call to Hmong Men” summit for well-meaning men and address how they contribute to violence against women by being silent and being a bystander. Hmong men were encouraged to step out of “the man box” and hold other men accountable.
Her advocacy efforts on behalf of the Hmong community and those affected by violence also extend to the state and national level. Moua has been involved in the review of the Abusive International Marriage Report, published by the Asian Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence. She was extensively involved in the review and editing of a Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault video documentary on the first ever gathering of advocates to talk about abusive international marriages.
Moua has helped organized all the gatherings for the Abusive International Marriage group since 2007. She helped organize the first National Abusive International Marriage Summit in Minnesota in 2014. She supports her peer group through the organization of state-wide conversations about Hmong domestic violence homicide/suicides that include other advocates around the state and End Abuse Wisconsin. She also helps organizes an annual “Courage Banquet” celebration, which honors survivors and supports their healing process.
The discussion of abusive international marriages in the United States led to the development of the first Hmong women’s organization in Laos, creating communication between Hmong American women and young girls from Laos to prevent abusive international marriages.
She has worked closely with the Department of Children & Family Services through committees such as the Governor’s Council Access Committee, Homicide Committee, Long Range Funding Committee, and Shelter Rules & Guidelines Committee. Her work with them involves review of homicide/suicides cases, identifying where funding is needed for domestic abuse programs, and creating a Shelter Rules & Guidelines Tool Kit and an Anti-Oppression Manual.
“Chai goes above and beyond in her work as an advocate for Hmong domestic violence survivors,” said CAP’s Melissa Randall, who nominated Moua for the award. “Her work continues to have a profound impact in our community and beyond. She not only organizes the community and advocates, she engages survivors to help create solutions.”