Milwaukee County voters make history, electing first female Hmong-American judge

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee County voters made history Tuesday, April 4th -- electing the first female Hmong-American judge. Kristy Yang was born in a refugee camp. Now, she will serve on the county's Circuit Court.

Yang remembers leaving the refugee camp she called home in Thailand -- and asking the flight attendant for a soda.

Kristy Yang

"As a six-year old, you watch where the sugar is coming from, right?" said Yang.

Yang went from barely speaking English, to becoming Wisconsin's first female Asian-American judge, and the nation's first female Hmong-American judge.

"My goal at the very outset was making sure I meet people, not just to meet them, but understand the issues that exist in our community," said Yang.

Kristy Yang

Yang's youngest brother was seriously injured when he was hit by a car at age six.

"My parents experienced their inability to navigate the legal system and their lack of guidance to help them make very important decisions about my brother's life," said Yang.

That's when she knew she needed to become an attorney.

"If I think that certain things are unfair or that things could be better, then what am I, in my individual capacity, going to do about it?" said Yang.

Kristy Yang

Yang grew up in Sheboygan and lives in Oak Creek. She practiced family law mediation, workers compensation, and social security disability. But wanted more.

"I think my calling was really to get on the bench," said Yang.

And she will. Starting in August, she'll take her seat at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

Yang defeated Scott Wales of Fox Point for the seat. Circuit judges in Milwaukee County serve six-year terms.