KaYing Yang was born in Long Cheng, Laos, which was the headquarters of the CIA-backed Special Guerrilla Unit led by General Vang Pao.  KaYing lived between Long Cheng and Vientiane until 1975 when the Pathet Lao took over and her family had to flee.  KaYing was five at that time.  She and her family lived for about a year in a refugee camp in Thailand and then came to the United States in 1976.

As KaYing reached college age, she became a social activist and after graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder, she became a refugee advocate.  She was director of SEARAC (Southsast Asia Resource Action Center) for nearly six years before beginning her work for the Office for International Migration teaching Cultural Orientation at the refugee settlement at Wat Tham Krabok. 

Currently KaYing and her husband, Tu, are living in Vientiane, Laos.