Editor’s note: Opus College of Business is highlighting Opus graduates (“giants”) who are making a huge impact in the world. Read the rest of the profiles here.

Growing up in an immigrant family from Laos, Pahoua Yang Hoffman ’06 MBA was grateful for people who helped them find footing in America. Her life experiences inspired her career working in nonprofits and mission-based organizations. Now Yang Hoffman is leading the charge at the largest community foundation in Minnesota: the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation.

“For many who have an immigration story, we have seen firsthand the impact of service and the life-transforming work by others, whether from social workers or church volunteers,” she said. “This exposure to that generosity from an early age helped shaped my career.”

As senior vice president of community impact at the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation since May 2020, Yang Hoffman drives change to improve the lives of Minnesotans. As chief strategist for grantmaking and community impact, she ensures that thousands of nonprofits have the resources to complete their missions to identify and solve local issues.

“I get the honor to support mission-based work by our nonprofit sector as a community foundation,” she said.

Yang Hoffman’s career path has been a journey fueled by ambition. Her work over the years has taken her from executive roundtables to the grand halls of the Minnesota state Capitol. As co-founder of the Minnesota Capitol Pathways program, she opened doors for students of color to get real-world experience through internships with government offices, nonprofits, corporations and law firms.

“Because the program attracted many kinds and types of students, this, along with the coursework taught by faculty members who were also business leaders in their field, provided a real-world classroom, complete with instruction that was relevant and timely,” she said.

Yang Hoffman is quite the trailblazer. When she was at the Citizens League, she was the first woman and person of color to hold the executive director position in its 70-year history. She leveraged her MBA education to help develop and advance policy recommendations on topics such as the minimum wage ordinance in St. Paul.

A thought leader who understands the importance of civic engagement, Yang Hoffman has worked tirelessly to cultivate a community where all voices are counted, heard and appreciated.
“I feel it is a calling for me to connect people, to find common ground to advance the common good … We need everyone to see each other’s humanity in order to contribute to the changes we want to see in our communities,” she remarked.

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