“Legacies of War’s unique approach – to listen, learn and act – in collaboration with the people of Laos and the U.S., has stood firm for nearly two decades. What started out as a dream of peace is becoming a reality. Lives saved, hope renewed, and opportunities restored for generations to come. Together, we can fully realize the dream of peace and prosperity for the people of Laos in the years ahead.”
Channapha Khamvongsa has over 25 years of civil society experience, leading innovative organizations and programs to support social and racial justice and peacebuilding in the U.S. and around the globe. Channapha founded and led Legacies of War, which seeks to address the problem of unexploded ordnance in Laos. Under her 15-year leadership, Legacies of War shifted the tense discourse of U.S. conflict in Laos to reconciliation and cooperation, successfully advocating for an increase in U.S. funding for bomb clearance and victims assistance in Laos, from an annual average of $2M in 2008 to $30M in 2016. In September 2016, President Barack Obama acknowledged Channapha’s advocacy efforts in Laos, where he became the first U.S. President to visit the country. Channapha has appeared in the New York Times, Democracy Now!, CNN, ABC, PBS, CBS News and Bon Appétit . She previously worked at the Ford Foundation and NEO Philanthropy on immigrant and refugee rights, civil society, civic engagement, capacity building, and transformational leadership. Her volunteer work included serving on the boards of the Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA), Seattle Asian American Film Festival and Conference on Asian American Leadership (CAPAL). She was born in Vientiane, Laos and came to the U.S. as a refugee at the age of seven. Channapha received her Bachelor's of Science Degree in Public Administration from George Mason University. She received her Master's Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University, where she received the Georgetown McCourt Distinguished Alumni Award.
Today, Channapha continues to connect creative, inspiring people globally to transform lives. Most recently, she led a group of Lao food enthusiasts from the U.S. to Northern Laos, connecting local leaders of Lao food and making life-long connections. What started as a food education tour evolved into what is now the Lao Food Foundation. She resides in the D.C. area with her husband and incredibly cute, talented and chatty dog, Huck.