MLK Advisors & Staff
The MLK staff and advisors are very knowledgeable and helpful, and they have a wealth of experience working with students in CLA.
Interim Director - CLA Diversity Student Support Programs
Assistant Director, Diversity Student Support Programs
Individualization l Woo l Communication l Adaptability l Positivity
Leah Milojevic (formerly Woodstrom) is the Assistant Director for CLA Diversity Student Support Programs where she manages advising and programing for the Access to Success Program and Martin Luther King Jr. Program in the College of Liberal Arts. She completed an individualized studies BA through the Inter-College Program with focus areas in political science, sociology, and family social science. She completed her MA in educational policy and administration in higher education from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
Leah is a Minneapolis native who loves to spend time with her family and son, cook, eat out and socialize, read about the US Supreme Court, and travel. Before working for the College of Liberal Arts, Leah worked in career services for the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development, and she played multiple roles at the University of Minnesota's General College.
Executive Office & Administrative Specialist
Walter Goodwin Jr. is an academic advisor for the Martin Luther King program. Walter will also be working with transfer students. He received his undergraduate degree from New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, NM in Political Science with an emphasis in Pre-Law. He also attended South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD, where he earned his Master's in Counseling and Human Resource Development with a specialization in Higher Education Administration.
Walter is originally from Sioux City, IA, and is an enrolled member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and is part of the Eagle Clan. Prior to joining the MLK program, Walter served as the President of Little Priest Tribal College located in Winnebago, NE. Walter also worked with the Bureau of Indian Education as a School Safety Specialist and the Anoka-Hennepin ISD as Native American Student Advisor. He enjoys being outdoors, trying various pizza places, and spending time with his two children.
Intellection l Input l Empathy l Maximizer l Woo
Gabriela Spears-Rico is an academic advisor for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Program and the major advisor for the Department of Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies and the Department of American Indian Studies. She earned her BA in political science and comparative studies in race and ethnicity and graduated with honors from Stanford University. She also has a PhD in comparative ethnic studies with a disciplinary emphasis in anthropology from the University of California Berkeley.
Gabriela is originally from Michoacan, Mexico, and she was raised by a single mother who was a migrant farm-worker. She grew up following the crops along the American West Coast and eventually settled in Nipomo, California—a small, historic town in California's central coast. Before working for the University of Minnesota, Gabriela taught ethnic studies and Chicana/o studies courses at the University of California in Berkeley and anthropology courses at Marquette University.
Gabriela enjoys watching documentary crime shows, writing poetry, cooking, and exploring Minnesota’s natural beauty with her family and their shih tzhu, Britney. An inspirational proverb that Gabriela enjoys is from the Totonac Nation: "And they shall come from all nations, speaking in different languages, and they will see the birth of a new sun, which will shine for all. Sun of love for an ideal world."
Jen Thonedara was born and raised in the Twin Cities. Her family immigrated from Laos, a small country in southeast Asia. Jen is a first generation college student who graduated from Hamline University with a BA degree in psychology. She continued her education at the University of St. Thomas, completing her MA degree in educational leadership and administration. Jen's passion for working with students has given her opportunities to work in various departments which include admissions and advising. She would like to pursue her PhD in the future and be able to continue to help students within higher education.
Outside of spending time with family and friends, Jen is a self-proclaimed foodie. She enjoys trying new restaurants around the city and keeps a running list of "must go to" places. Some of her favorite restaurants are 112 Eatery, Bar La Grassa, Haute Dish, and Borough. The food trucks around the city have really excited her since it makes for convenient good eats. Jen truly enjoys and waits for the Minnesota State Fair every year so she can over-indulge in great fair foods. She loves that the Twin Cities has become a very eclectic food scene.
Connectedness l Empathy l Developer l Relatedness l Adaptability
Chinh Truong is an academic advisor for the Martin Luther King Jr. Program in the College of Liberal Arts. He completed his BA in psychology from the College of Liberal Arts and a BS in genetics, cell biology, and development in the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. He also completed a Master's in professional psychology from the University of St. Thomas.
Chinh is a Minneapolis native who, in his spare time, enjoys cooking, ballroom dancing, socializing with friends and family, and traveling. Before working for the College of Liberal Arts, Chinh had worked in career services and academic advising at Concordia University for several years—a bustling, small, private, 4-year liberal arts university in St. Paul.
Kao Yong Thao
Kao Yong Thao is an academic advisor for the Martin Luther King Jr. Program in the College of Liberal Arts. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BA in English literature and gender & women's studies. She also completed a Master's degree in higher education with a concentration in diversity and social justice from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Kao Yong was born in a refugee camp in Thailand, but has lived most of her life in Manitowoc, WI. Prior to her work as an academic advisor for the MLK Program, Kao Yong organized programs focused around deepening school-family-community partnerships at an elementary school in the Madison Metropolitan School District. During Kao Yong's time at Michigan, she coordinated retreats and workshops that aimed to engage the campus community in exploring the concept and practice of social justice allyhood. When Kao Yong is not working, she enjoys watching movies, reading blogs, cooking, trying new food, and spending time with family.