Nov 29, 2021

Pa Houa Shasky is a Health Educator, second-generation Hmong American, and USBC 2020 Emerging Leader Award Recipient. Pa currently serves as an Interim Public Health Supervisor and helps to coordinate the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) grant in Ramsey County, MN.

SHIP is a program that helped the Saint Paul – Ramsey County Public Health Department attain the gold level status of a Breastfeeding Friendly Public Health Department recognition from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). SHIP is now scaling up these efforts to assist all Ramsey County departments in becoming designated Breastfeeding Friendly Workplaces.

Through SHIP, Pa also formed partnerships with the state breastfeeding coalition, WIC program, and breastfeeding advocates from the Hmong community to spearhead the Hmong Breastfeeding Project. “The community project brought together like-minded Hmong women in the Twin Cities metro area of Minnesota to discuss, plan and implement different breastfeeding awareness activities for Hmong families” Pa shared. “After the community project ended, this tight knit group of 15-20 Hmong women wanted to continue holding space for Hmong families to talk about breastfeeding in our community; this led to the formation of the Hmong Breastfeeding Coalition (HBC) in 2018.”

Photo from a 2019 Hmong Breastfeeding Coalition Meeting

Today, Pa continues to work with the HBC to support and promote breastfeeding among Hmong Families. When asked what drives her to do this work, Pa replied that her work is motivated by shared experiences with the populations she serves.

Like many other Hmong women living in MN, I am second-generation immigrant and experience similar challenges when it comes to breastfeeding and being a working parent. My motivation is being able to connect families and individuals to one another to find strength and solutions together. I think life is easier to navigate when you know you are not alone in your challenges.” – Pa Houa Shasky

Pa is a recipient of one of two 2020 National Breastfeeding Conference and Convening (NBCC) Emerging Leaders Award. She enjoys meeting new people from different walks of life who share her goal of supporting breastfeeding families. She is skilled at gardening and home canning and loves to go on walks and bike rides with her family.

Congratulations Pa, we thank you for your efforts to promote breastfeeding and create safe spaces for Hmong breastfeeding families in MN!