Yee Lee Vue ’10, Ma’12

Meet 2017 Forward Under 40 Award Recipient Yee Lee Vue ’10, MA’12

UW Majors: Retailing, Library and Information Studies
Age: 30 | Appleton, Wisconsin
Adult Services and Engagement Librarian, Appleton Public Library

When college seemed out of reach for Yee Lee Vue, her community had a different idea — and now she’s full of ideas that give back.

“I wanted to give the world more than what I had growing up.”

Vue’s family arrived in the Fox Valley as refugees from Thailand when she was three years old. Poor and unable to read or write in English, they were dependent on relatives for housing throughout her childhood.

“Without an education, my mother was determined to work hard in order to live the ‘American Dream,’” Vue says.

“By working in my mother’s business, I became inspired to build my own dream.”

Vue toured UW–Madison as a high school student, and a scholarship from the Wisconsin Alumni Association: Fox Valley Chapter sealed her future as a Badger.

“The first day I attended UW–Madison, I had a vision that one day I would be able to contribute my knowledge and experiences to my community,” she says. “I wanted to give the world more than what I had growing up.”

Two degrees later, Vue took her UW experience back home when she was named the Appleton Public Library’s first Hmong outreach specialist. She launched a program to provide more than 100 local Hmong families with free books and early-literacy activities, preparing young children for school.

Vue has since been promoted to adult services and engagement librarian, now sharing her love of learning with even more of the community. But she knew she could use her UW education and entrepreneurial spirit to do even more.

In 2015, Vue and her husband founded City Café, an Asian-inspired restaurant in downtown Appleton. Last year, Vue hosted City Café Cares Week, inviting local residents experiencing homelessness to enjoy free meals at the café. She also cofounded a multicultural publishing company, Skill Stacker, that offers school-readiness resources for children, and she is the author of a Hmong children’s board book, Kaum Tus Me Nyuam Ntses.