As a young girl, Hlee Lee-Kron was labeled the “loud Hmong girl.”
Lee-Kron grew up in a socially conservative community, where most women were expected to remain silent and subtle; this made things hard for Lee-Kron. But that label would later inspire Lee-Kron, a University of St. Thomas graduate and multimedia journalist, to create the other media group, a media production and consulting firm.
Lee-Kron grew up on the west side of St. Paul with her eight siblings. From an early age, Lee-Kron had a strong interest in journalism. Through this interest, Lee-Kron would later join ThreeSixty Journalism, a program that introduces high school students to journalism.
After graduating from St. Thomas, Lee-Kron worked as a producer for Twin Cities Public Television. It was there that she realized how few people of color there were in newsrooms and how they were unable to share their stories. That became the inspiration for Lee-Kron when she launched her media group in 2018.
Lee-Kron helps smaller organizations in her community share their stories. She enjoys being able to assist them through the production and process phases.
“Continuing to be active in the community is an important part of doing community storytelling,” Lee-Kron said.
Lee-Kron was later part of Minnesota Public Radio’s “Counter Stories,” an award-winning podcast covering serious topics, such as race, politics and diversity through the lens of people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds — different people from the BIPOC community, hence its tagline, “A podcast by people of color, for people of color…and everyone else.” Episode titles reveal complex conversation topics, like “Being Authentic in White Spaces,” “Race in Public Media” and “Compounding Effects on Community of Color.”
Recently, “Counter Stories” severed ties with MPR because of the lack of promotion, resources and support, Lee-Kron shared.
“Counter Stories” now independently produces its podcast and has partnered with Ampers radio group to get “Counter Stories” back on air and to distribute it to community radio stations across the state.
During the pandemic, Lee-Kron’s the other media group subcontracted with community artists and storytellers. She also hopes to be able to bring different artists into the work she does with the community and to be able to provide fair pay for them.
When not working, which she says is rare, Lee-Kron enjoys being outdoors with her dogs, Lily and Carley, and her husband, Jim.
In reflecting about what she would tell young storytellers, Lee-Kron said it feels like “everything is so different for you guys now than it was for us,” with new technologies and social media.
“But, just understanding that you know you’re able to make your reputation what you want even if your parents and those in your community don’t support you,” she said. “You can build your own community.”