KARE is making changes to its programming that will trigger a ground-breaking moment in local broadcasting.
Gia Vang, a former TV journalist in Kansas City, Phoenix and Fresno, will become part of the NBC affiliate's "Sunrise Team" starting July 8. She is believed to be the first Hmong-American anchor in the Twin Cities market.
She replaces Lauren Leamanczyk who will be joining Julie Nelson and Randy Shaver as anchors for "KARE News at 5."
"By adding Lauren to this already well-established and award-winning anchor team, we will be able to allow all three of our news anchors to get out in the community more and share stories that matter to all Minnesotans," said the station's director of content, Stuart Boslow.
Other Hmong-Americans have made their mark in the Minneapolis-St. Paul market and several have anchored in smaller, neighboring markets. Laura Lee reads the news for KAAL in Rochester and Bao Vang helped lead the morning team at WSAW in Wausau, Wis.
In the Twin Cities, Hmong-Americans have occassionally filled in behind the desk, like former KARE reporter Boua Xiong. But Gia Vang appears to be the first Hmong-American coming into this market specifically as an anchor.
"I feel like the Hmong community has made a huge impact in the Twin Cities. It's an honor to be a representative of that culture," said Vang, whose father lives in St. Paul. "If you're in the industry, you know KARE is a wonderful station that does really amazing work."
Bao Vang said she's followed Gia Vang's career since 2011 and had hoped she would someday land in Minnesota.
"Our Minnesota community desperately needs someone with Gia’s talent, personality and life experiences to influence local news coverage so it better represents more of the narratives of this diverse community," said Bao Vang, who is currently the associate director for ThreeSixty Journalism, a non-profit program that helps train and inspire high-school students. "I haven't watched local morning news for a long time. Maybe seeing Gia's presence on air will inspire me to do so again."