Hero Artist, this is what people close to Brian knew him as. Brian Thon Tha Saechao was born on December 29, 1981 in San Jose, CA to Vietnam War refugees: Fouta and Gain Kouei Saechao. He was the third oldest of four siblings. Throughout his childhood, he showed signs of promising artistic talent. He always had a propensity to create quality works of art. In addition, positivity and caring for others were two of his many traits. He grew to become a dedicated Mien community leader and a committed professional social worker.
At a very young age, his parents moved him to Lodi, CA, where a small Iu-Mien community exists. He spent the majority of his life in Lodi and graduated from Tokay High School and San Joaquin Delta Community College. While attending community college, he taught an after school art enrichment program for at risk elementary students. This gave him an avenue to connect his love and passion for art and philanthropy for a single benevolent cause.
When he attended San Francisco State University in 2003, he acquired his first real taste of life away from a small city. In 2006, he graduated with his Bachelor of Arts degree in Asian American-Ethnic Studies. Afterward, he moved onto Sacramento State University and graduated with Honors in Social Work in 2009. For his Thesis project, he created an illustrated children’s book, which portrayed a culturally lost Mien student adjusting to life in America.
While attending college in 2003, he started to become an integral part of the Iu-Mien Student Conference (IMSC) and the Mien community in general. Actually, a year earlier due to his artistic prowess, he was hired to design the annual student conference program booklet—he architected numerous future editions. He was the Vice-Chairperson from 2004-2005 and was Chairperson in 2006. The student conference was a critical, life changing aspect of his life. He discovered an avenue to assist and advance the Mien Community, showcase his talents, and meet the love of his life.
While trying to obtain an IMSC officer position in 2003, he met Fam Seng Chao. They both were elected to officer positions but the real love connection came afterwards. About a year later, while Brian and Fam continued their volunteer efforts to improve the lives and likelihoods of young Mien people in the Sacramento community, they established a fulfilling bond and fell in love. In 2005, Fam was the Chairperson for the student conference and Brian was the Vice-Chairperson. They were a great team then and onward.
Even though, he grew up in a refugee family, struggling to adapt to a new world, he was always in good spirits and matured to help the less fortunate. Brian held various jobs and community service positions that involved taking care of others and displaying his artistic talents. Other than being apart of IMSC, he positively affected the Iu-Mien Senior Social group, the Hmong, Mien, Lao Communities Action Network (HMLCAN), the San Joaquin Delta College Graphic/Liberal Arts Association, and the Child Abuse Prevention Council (CAPC) AmeriCorps, to name a few. He has worked for Napa County Child Welfare Services, St. Francis Home for Children, Mather Community Campus, and River Oak Center for Children.
Before the tragic drowning of his 2 year old son, Raphael, and himself on October 12, 2012, he was the Lead Program Coordinator for Iu-Mien Community Services (IMCS). This organization was inspired by Brian’s suggestion, vision, and tireless commitment to the Mien community and decided to honor him by renaming itself to IMCS. In loving memory of Brian and Raphael, his surviving wife named their second son, Brian Raphael. Brian is in a happier place now, forever living by his motto, “Always B Positive.” If we all contribute in small and meaningful ways, the world would be a better place.