Madison Gains an Up and Coming Advocate
Atty. Annabelle Vang
Q: What is an interesting fact about you that most people do not know?
A: In 2016 I took a service trip to Nepal with an organization called Wine to Water. I helped build water wells and taught hygiene and sanitation lessons to
communities impacted by the earthquake. During my trip, I stayed with the communities we were aiding. Even though we experienced a language barrier, it was
easy to connect to the community members.

Q: What you are doing professionally in the workforce?
A: I work as an attorney specializing in family law. I handle divorce, child custody and placement, support issues, paternity and guardianship cases. I also work as
a court-appointed Guardian ad-Litem representing the children’s best interests in custody/placement disputes, restraining orders, and cases involving child abuse.

Q: You were recently recognized by the Business Forum during their Athena Young Professional recognition program. What did the recognition mean for you?  
A:  I was very proud to be recognized by the Business Forum. I am grateful that they took the time to personally recognize each nominee and give each of us a
spotlight at their luncheon. I was especially honored to be a part of this group after meeting the other recognized professionals and learning about their
accomplishments.

Q: What networks or organizations have you personally and professionally benefited from in Madison or statewide?  
A:  The most beneficial organization that I have joined has been Big Brother Big Sisters. I volunteered as a mentor for over two years when I lived in Milwaukee and
developed a great friendship with my mentee. I also made valuable relationships with other mentors within the program.

Q: What current issues affecting our city or statewide are important to you and why?
A:  In late fall of this year, I was very saddened to hear that Journey Mental Health was closing Kajsiab House, a branch of the organization that provided treatment
specifically for Hmong elders. What was most upsetting to me was the circumstances surrounding the closing. The workers and community members were given
short notice, and very little transparency in the reasons why this specific program was closing. Instead, they simply informed us in that a little over a month, Kajsiab
House would be closing due to budget deficits.
On November 1, 2018, a large crowd gathered at the Madison Club in support of several honorees being recognized by
The Business Forum during the annual ATHENA Young Professional Awards ceremony. The energy was vibrant. Each
story about the guests of honor caused the audience to swell with pride to be surrounded by such talent. Among those
celebrated was Annabelle Vang, a rising attorney in Madison. Vang, who is a first-generation Hmong, has crisscrossed
the United States, but ultimately landed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to attend law school. Since arriving in Madison about
three years ago, Vang has been emerging at the mantle of leadership. When she is not in court representing individuals in
family law matters, she is robustly engaged with Big Brothers Big Sisters and service to the Hmong community. A
welcomed addition to our city, learn more about Vang in this YP Spotlight.

Q: Where were you born and what brought you to Madison, Wisconsin if you are not from here?
A: I was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Growing up, I lived in Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, and Illinois. Ultimately, I
moved to Milwaukee to pursue my law degree and have settled down in Madison after getting a job in the area.

Culturally, I am a first-generation Hmong. My family is originally from Laos. My father spent most of his childhood there,
before being sent to a refugee camp in Thailand, and eventually immigrated to the U.S. My mother moved from Laos to
France and came to the U.S. after her marriage to my father.
It was devastating to see the reaction of the elderly affected by this loss; the
majority of which do not speak English and had difficulty grasping the details
surrounding this. Instead they believed that Kajsiab House was closing because
they had done something wrong and this closure was a punishment for their
misbehavior. These are individuals who have been displaced from their homes
and families, fleeing as refugees after helping our country in the war that occurred
on their homeland. To hear their stories, how Kajsiab House helped them, and
their fears surrounding the closure, was heartbreaking.

Q: What are some of the civic engagements you are involved in?
A: I am involved with the local Hmong community in Madison. I have been a
volunteer organizer of the annual fundraising gala for the Hmong Language and
Cultural Education Program (HLCEP). This year I was a key speaker at the
fundraising gala. Every year I am a guest speaker at HLCEP.

This year I volunteered at events and organizations to fundraise and bring local
support to the closing of Kajsiab House.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment as a young professional in our
community?
A: My proudest accomplishment has been the work I have done building my
career in Madison. I have been in the Madison area for nearly three years. I have
spent this time handling my own private pay and court appointed cases. This year
I was nominated as a 2018 Rising Star by Super Lawyers and published in both
the Super Lawyer and Madison Magazines.

Q: What advice would you give to young professionals of color that are new to
Madison?
A: I would advise them to join some of the many organizations that exist in
Madison and get to know other individuals through this. Madison has so many
diverse groups and organizations, which host events and fundraisers to attend. In
the summer, the city hosts multiple farmers markets and festivals that are a great
way to meet people and groups that you can build connections with.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of your work and civic activities?
A: I enjoy doing anything with my loved ones, including my family, friends, fiancé,
or our puppy. We especially enjoy exploring the parks, trails, and lakes of the
Madison area, and kayaking.

Nia Trammell, a long-time Madisonian, is an attorney who works in government.