FRESNO, Calif. -- Oakland mayor Sheng Thao, who is the first Hmong American mayor of a major U.S. city, visited the Central Valley this weekend.
She was honored at General Vang Pao elementary in Southeast Fresno.
Community leaders welcomed her with a special ceremony and proclamation celebrating her success.
Thao says she hopes to inspire change in both the Bay Area and Fresno.
"We are celebrating the success of the Hmong people, breaking the barrier of having a Hmong mayor finally represent a large city here in this nation and in the world..." Thao said. "...we have to look out for each other. When we start with those building blocks then you can only lift everyone up."
Thao is the daughter of refugees from Laos.
At 37 years old she is also one of the youngest mayors in Oakland's history.
She says growing up impoverished and surviving domestic abuse, she knows the meaning of struggle.
She hopes to inspire not only the City of Oakland but partnering cities including Fresno, which is home to the largest Hmong community in California.