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Honoree Headshot

Maysee Herr

Chief Executive Officer
Hmong WI Chamber of Commerce (HWCC)

Location: Milwaukee, WI
Founded: 2000
Industry: Economic Development

Maysee Herr saw her father, an entrepreneur and small business owner, sometimes struggle to find support and help in the business community. Today, in her role as CEO of Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce (HWCC), Herr helps others find the support that her father could have used when he was starting out.

HWCC provides financial assistance and consultation to business and community development activities that improve economic opportunities in low-income and underserved communities in Wisconsin.

HWCC staff helps business owners learn how to scale their businesses and understand where to turn for support. These business owners can communicate in their native Hmong language or share their struggles with understanding American culture and business policies free of judgment from the HWCC staff. Herr emphasizes the need to build trusting, strong relationships with HWCC’s clients so they feel comfortable enough to keep coming back for support, her team said. HWCC’s clientele has grown, and the organization helps business owners in a range of underserved communities, not just the Hmong community.

“I want to keep focused on the mission of our organization and why I entered the work that I do,” Herr said. “I want to keep my eyes and ears open at all times but not worry about the loud noises around me; it’s too easy to become distracted. I have to stay focused on what I’m doing, trusting that what I’m doing is enough, while continually growing and learning, not for anyone else but for the people I serve and for my own personal development as a human being.”

In the next five years, HWCC plans to add at least four more satellite offices across the state and triple its staff. HWCC headquarters in Milwaukee will expand its physical space so business owners have more training equipment and resources. There will be larger spaces for technology use as well as commercial kitchen spaces. The vision also includes creating affordable incubator spaces where startup businesses can have a place to get their feet wet and to grow before they rent or purchase brick-and-mortar locations.

Herr has been recognized by BizTimes as a Notable Minority Executive, named one of Wisconsin’s 48 Most Influential Asian Americans by Madison 365 and a Nonprofit Leader of the Year Nominee by Madison 365. Herr has also received other awards in the past, such as the Wisconsin State Superintendent Friend of Education Award, and she was an ATHENA Leadership Award nominee and was named a Twenty Under 40 nominee by Daily Media in 2014.

I want to “stay focused on the legacy I want to leave behind for my loved ones and those that I’m serving,” Herr said.

Presented by:

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Honoree Fun fact

She loves fishing and is often called upon to sing at weddings.

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