“To me success is achieving one’s set goal regardless how small or whatever that goal is. I’m a big believer in setting goals,” says Sacramento-based attorney Kou Travis Xiong.
And Kou has lived a life of experiences that align with these words. Kou vividly recalls a challenge he faced after his 8th grade year. Kou scored high enough on a high school placement exam to be placed in advanced courses. However, the high school vice principal intervened and instead enrolled him in English as a Second Language (ESL) courses.
Understanding the high importance of elite colleges placed on the rigor of high school courses and a student’s grade in those courses in the admissions process and having a strong desire to attend the best universities in the world, Kou and his parents confronted the vice principal and demanded to have him enroll in the appropriate honors courses. The vice principal refused and threw every imaginable obstacle at them. But with Kou’s persistence, the vice principal conditionally gave in but required Kou’s father to sign a waiver releasing the vice principal from any responsibilities should Kou fail in the honors courses. This discriminatory experience motivated Kou and it helped to solidify his belief that success requires not only having goals but also strong conviction.
Challenged by the rigor of the advanced college preparatory courses, inspired, and motivated, in part by the vice principal incident, Kou went on to graduate near the top of his high school class and earned essentially a full ride to one of the most prestigious colleges in the world, the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and a minor in Asian American Studies with an emphasis in law.
Committed to his passion for the law, Kou went on to attend law school at the University of Idaho College of Law. While in law school, Kou handled misdemeanor trials and appeals, as well as family law cases, through the law school’s clinical programs.
Following that, he worked as a hearing representative for the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, then as a Staff Attorney for the State Compensation Insurance Fund, and later entered the private sector at a large, state-wide law firm, called Grancell, Lebovitz, et al, defending big corporate business and insurance giants, such as AIG, American Airlines and Wells Fargo Bank.
After several years in private practice, Kou returned to work for the State of California as a Senior Attorney representing the State in complex class action litigations involving civil rights, constitutional laws, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In May of 2012, Kou opened his own law office, practicing in various areas of law, including criminal law, family law, workers compensation, immigration law, personal injury law, among others. He is married to Chao Lor, who is also an attorney and works for the California Department of Insurance as a senior attorney. Kou and his wife are proud parents of a daugher, who is an accomplished collegiate golfer and a future attorney.
In addition to his full-time jobs, Kou set aside time to be active in the community. Among his many community activities, he served as the General Counsel of the Hmong American Ad Hoc Committee of Sacramento, which organized and rallied against the arrests of the late General Vang Pao and eleven other Hmong leaders. For 7 years, Kou was the President of the Board of Directors of the Urban Charter Schools Collective (UCSC), a not-for-profit organization that manages and operates the first Hmong independent public charter school, YavPemSuab Academy, which he helped to establish, in Sacramento, California. Currently, Kou serves as the special counsel to the Xiong United National, Inc.
In the future, Kou would like to be a part of the establishment of a successful Hmong Chamber of Commerce or a professional Hmong business network not only in California but throughout the world.
Discussing what he envisions for the betterment of the Hmong community, he states that “we must move away from the politics of the older generations and forge a future based on solid foundations of respect, trust, professionalism, and integrity.”
With the increasing number of educated Hmong Americans, Kou strongly believes “the future of the Hmong, not only in America but all over the world, will be brighter and more exciting.” Kou says that one of his life’s goals now, which he promises, is “to play a big role in shaping that future.”
Kou now resides in Sacramento, California.