For decades, US-based Vietnamese-American-led organizations met countless obstacles challenging their development work in Vietnam. They struggled to find the capital and resources to meet the needs of the people, as well as to navigate the harassment, threats, demands of bribery, and lack of recognition they faced. As Vietnamese-American life flourished in USA in the late 1990s and early 2000s, leaders from these organizations felt even more compelled to further the development of Vietnam, having informal and organic conversations about how to best address the needs of Vietnamese people and coming to the consensus that the first step be to find common ground in their efforts and combine forces to face these challenges together with a united front.
In 2004, with pooled funding from a few NGOs and a 3-year funding commitment from the Ford Foundation, 24 organizations came together to create a single united organization, unified in its mission, vision, and goals. As this idea gained traction, other philanthropists, academic experts, and civic leaders from around the USA joined, and with them, more funding from larger foundations such as the Asia Foundation and the Alexander Wallace Gerbode Foundation. VANGO incorporated in August 2008 and received its 501(c)3 tax exempt status in January 2009.
Today, VANGO is led by a board of Vietnamese-American leaders, diverse in talents and expertise, who come together to continue VANGO’s mission and evolve, as appropriate, to meet Vietnam’s changing needs. Such individuals include: Dr. Quynh Kieu, MD, healthcare and pediatric expert, founder and president of Project Vietnam Foundation, and committee member of the American Academy of Pediatrics; Anh-Kim Tran, civic leadership and childhood development expert and co-founder and board treasurer of Pacific Links Foundation; Phuong-Lien Ngo-Nguyen, RN, MSN, nursing lecturer at Cal State University of San Marcos; Thien-Nhien Luong, MPH, epidemiologist, co-founder and president of Design Capital Asia, co-founder of Friends of Hue Foundation, and co-founder of Vietnamese REACH for Health Coalition; Vi Tuong Nguyen, technology expert and Senior IT Manager at Western Digital Corporation; Cathy Lam, environmentalism expert and co-founder and president of Our1World; and Thu-Le Doan, co-founder of Center for the Encouragement of Self Reliance and Vietnamese American Scholarship Fund.
Vietnamese American Non-Governmental Organization Network’s Mission is to lead effective collaborations and strengthen the humanitarian, cultural, and development work by delivering capacity building workshops to underserved communities.
Board of Directors
(As of the board meeting held May 2019)
Quynh Kieu, MD, President & Chairperson, Board Development (Chair), Program & Membership Committee
Project Vietnam Foundation, Founder & President
American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee Member
Thien-Nhien Luong, MPH, Secretary, Board Development, Program Committee (Chair), & Fundraising Committee
Design Capital Asia, Co-Founder & President
Friends of Hue Foundation, Co-Founder
Vietnamese REACH for Health Coalition, Co-Founder
Cathy Lam, Treasurer, Finance Committee, Board Development & Membership Committee (Chair)
Our1World, Co-founder & President
Anh Kim Tran, Program Committee
Pacific Links Foundation, Co-founder & Treasurer
Phuong-Lien Ngo-Nguyen, RN, MSN, Finance Committee (Chair)
Cal State University of San Marcos, Lecturer
Vi Tuong Nguyen, Finance & Fundraising Committee
Western Digital Corporation, Senior IT Manager
Thu-Le Doan, Board Development & Fundraising Committee
Center for the Encouragement of Self Reliance, Co-Founder
Vietnamese American Scholarship Fund
Quynh Kieu, MD serves as President & Chairwoman and on the Board Development (Chair), Membership Committee, & Program Committee. She is President/Chair/Founder Project Vietnam Foundation and is a pediatrician and lifelong advocate for children. She has held various leadership positions at the Orange County Medical Association, California Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics AAP. Quynh and Chan Kieu founded Project Vietnam in 1996 as an international project of the AAP. It has brought thousands of volunteers through 2 medical mission trips annually to serve rural areas–32 provinces to date, providing surgical repairs for children with facial deformities and eye defects, primary care services at remote clinics and schools, and medical training for healthcare personnel. The flagship project is the Newborn Care Initiative which has updated national guidelines for Newborn Health and brought a Neonatal Resuscitation Training to 85% of the provinces in Vietnam. Project Vietnam Foundation has received copyrights from the AAP for multiple training programs in Neonatal care, Disaster management, and the Pediatric First Aid for caregivers. PVNF is the lead organization for the Health Education Initiative of VANGO Network.
Thien Nhien Luong, MPH serves as Secretary and on the Board Development, Program Committee (Chair), and Fundraising Committee. She co-founded the Friends of Hue Foundation (FHF), served on the Board of Directors from 1999-2013 and as the Executive Director from 2008-2013. She co-founded Design Capital Asia in 2013 to focus on integrated development approaches across fields and sectors including social entrepreneurship development. She has supported many NGOs over a decade. She has been Principle Researcher behind Healthy Initiatives through Peer Education (HIPE) that offers health education led by school-age peer health educators in 77 schools and 33 high risk communities in central Vietnam. Luong holds a B.A. degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from UCSB and M.P.H specializing in Epidemiology, HIV/AIDS, and International Health from UCLA’s School of Public Health. She has had over 15 years of experience in Public Health, Health Promotion, Disease Control and Prevention, Program Management, Planning, Research and Evaluation, Community Development, Capacity Building, Emergency Preparedness, and International Health consulting. She worked for the Santa Clara County Public Health Department for close to 10 years and had held various positions there including Chief Epidemiologist and Sr. Health Care Program Manager.
Cathy Lam serves as Treasurer, Chair for Board Development & Membership Committee. As Co-Founding Our1World in 2005, Lam is an advocate of environmental sustainability. She was actively involved with the Soymilk Nutritional Supplement program in Central Vietnam from 2005-2007. Our1World projects include Solar Energy Appliances SEA including Photovoltaic Solar Ceiling Fans, Bep Lo Xanh Rocket Stove to reduce deforestation while aiming at reducing indoor air pollution health risks, Tràm Gió Melaleuca Habitat Restoration with native species. Our1world partners with several organizations for training youth in a PSA Public Service Announcements media video project – Making Healthy Choices, Building Healthy Communities. Cathy holds workshops annually in Vietnam with the VANGO Network to teach Nutrition and Healthy Living with an emphasis on the environment and marine conservation to students and early childhood educators. She was a former board member of the Newport Bay Conservancy, advocating on watershed issues, plastic pollution, preservation and restoration of natural habitat. She is on the advisory board for Project Vietnam Foundation, La Mirada HS Solar and Green Tech Academy in engaging youth in leadership in environment sustainability. Cathy holds a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of California in Irvine.
Anh Kim Tran serves on the Program Committee. She co-founded Pacific Links Foundation and is currently the Early Childhood Education Consultant for Mầm Non Lá Xanh/GreenLeaf Learning Center in HCMC. Previously, Ánh was a Program Specialist for Asian Services at BANANAS Resource Center in Oakland, California. With her extensive experience in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECCE) training in the US, she spearheads the ECCE training programs conducted by the Pacific Links Foundation for early childhood educators throughout Vietnam, through collaboration with provincial education offices and teacher training colleges. Since 2010, Ánh has participated with the VANGO Network to provide HEI PedFACTS Training from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for teachers in Vietnam. She authors “Nuôi dạy trẻ vui mạnh: A Parenting Guide” for Vietnamese American parents, published by ICAN in May 2007. She is Co-Founder of Viet Nam Health, Education & Literature Projects (VNHELP) and served on its Board of Directors 1991-2001. Ánh also served on the Board of Directors of Asian Health Services in California.
Phuong-Lien Ngo-Nguyen, RN, MSN is the Chair of the Finance Committee. She was born and raised in South Vietnam and has been in the US since 1970. She earned her BSN from Incarnate World College and MSN from University of Phoenix. She has worked in hospitals for over 35 years as a Registered Nurse in ICU and also IV therapy/Interventional Cardiology/House Supervisor. She has been a lecturer at San Diego State University for 10 years and is currently at California State San Marcos, School of Nursing. Besides her work, she is passionate about helping others. She has participated in medical/educational mission trips to Vietnam. In the United States, Lien has volunteered for Fresh Start and has been active in Vietnamese communities. She also teams up with ConnectMed International – Surgical assistance to the program at the Hospital de California in Tijuana helping indigent children with deformities. Since 2012, Lien has taken Nursing students to Vietnam for international, educational and cultural learning experiences, in collaboration with Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Nursing to help both US and VN nursing students improve cultural awareness and sensitivity. She is actively involved with other charity organizations in scholarship programs to nursing students from poor families with high academic standing.
Vi Tuong Nguyen serves on the Finance and Fundraising Committees and is a Senior IT Manager at Western Digital Corporation in Fremont, California. She has volunteered for over 30 years with grass root organizations in various capacities. In 1984, Vi co-founded the Vietnamese Student Association (VNSA) at the UC Santa Cruz in 1984, local chapter of the Committee Against Forced Repatriation (CAFR) in 1989, and the Vietnamese American Youth for the Future (VAYF) in 1991. From 1993 to 2004, she joined the Aid to Children Without Parents (ACWP) and has served some 3,000 refugee children and children without parents annually through various capacities including Editor, Financial/Program Director, and Executive Director. From 2005 to 2008, she has joined the Board of Directors of Pacific Links Foundation to work with the VANGO Network initiative and to assist the ADAPT project with its financial requirements. Vi holds a BA in computer and information science from UCSC.
Thu-Le Doan serves on Board Development & Fundraising Committees and immigrated to America in 1968. She co-founded Vietnamese American Scholarship Fund (VASF) and the Center for the Encouragement of Self-Reliance (CESR) VASF. She is a trustee of the Vietnamese American Scholarship Fund (VASF) since 1988 and the Center for the Encouragement of Self-Reliance (CESR) since 1997. Over more than 20 years, VASF has built many schools and awarded several thousand scholarships and scholars grants both inside and outside Vietnam. CESR and VASF have provided matching grants to many Vietnamese American NGOs to provide clean water, build schools and toilet facilities, and orthopedic and cataract surgeries. Since 1999, CESR has operated Trung Tâm Khuyến Khích Tự Lập (TTKKTL) in Hue to provide scholarships and warm clothes to thousands of children, build kindergarten schools, assist flood victims, and provide micro-loans to more than 20,000 families in over 35 communities. Currently TTKKTL collaborates with local communities to build restroom facilities at marketplaces and commits to Swim to Survive training to 10,000 children over the next 10 years to reduce cases of drowning in Hue’s perennial floods. CESR also providing funding for capacity building and Counter-Trafficking Challenge Grant (CTCG) to many VA NGOs. The United Nations conferred to TTKKTL the UN Habitat – Civil Society Innovation Award in 2008. Doan holds a Bachelor degree in Sociology from Rutgers University and has been a Chairman of the Board of PAI Corporation in Tennessee since 1983.
Advisory Board & Committee Members
Thanh Binh Nguyen Rybacki, Founder Children of Peace International – left Vietnam with her family on April 30, 1975 when the American government evacuated them in the last days before the fall of Saigon to the Communist troops. She finished her education at Colorado State University and worked for Hewlett-Packard for 25 years as an integrated circuit designer and information technology specialist. In 1993, binh returned to Vietnam to locate the rest of her family and to make peace with her home country. She found children working as street peddlers, beggars, and prostitutes. Unable to leave things as she found them, Binh and her husband, Jack began Children of Peace International (COPI) in 1993 to help improve the lives of these kids. COPI gained non-profit status in June of 1996. COPI supports of 7,400 children in 18 homes and schools including scholarships to indigenous children, provide shelters for street, homeless and rescued children from human trafficking. COPI built the first Pediatric HIV center in Saigon. four schools and two clinics, provides medical equipments and capacity building training and host medical mission twice annually to rural communities in Vietnam. In 2002, Kiwanis International awarded Binh the World Service Medal Award. Past winners were Mother Teresa, Katherine Hepburn, Mrs. Rosaline Carter, Mrs. Nancy Reagan to name a few. In 2010, United Nations Association in USA awarded COPI with the International Humanitarian Award. Children of Peace had just celebrated its 20 years serving Vietnam on November 2013. Children of Peace International is a subject for the http://www.aneccessaryjourneymovie.com “A Necessary Journey” documentary. binh and her husband Jack are proud parents of Preston and his wife Shannon and Spencer.
Thinh Nguyen has worked in the software development industry for over 30 years in the US specializing in rapid developing of enterprise and telecommunication networks management system (NMS). He founded Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) Committee of American Chamber of Commerce Vietnam in 2004 and served as the committee Chairman until 2006. He co-founded Democrat Abroad Chapter in Vietnam in 2007 and is once again serving as the country chair-person. He is currently working as an independent entrepreneur based in Saigon, Vietnam. Thinh left Vietnam in April 1975 and is a graduate of University of New Orleans, Louisiana in Computer Science. Thinh has participated in many non-profit projects in Vietnam since 1990 in diverse areas such as medical, education and cultural. He has been a volunteer for VNHELP (www.vnhelp.org) organization since 1991 and was on its Board of Directors between 1993-1995. He was a co-founder and currently serves as a Board of Directors member of Pacific Links Foundation (www.pacifclinks.org) to create sustainable projects to assist people in Vietnam. Pacific Links is focusing on anti-human trafficking in Southeast Asia. He has participated in many trips with Project Vietnam (www.projectvietnam.net) to provide medical assistance and surgeries for children in Vietnam since 1994.
Greig Craft – Concerned by the growing crisis and impact of road crashes on poor economies, Greig Craft established AIP Asia Injury Prevention Foundation to improve road traffic safety in the developing world in 1999. His innovative solutions have already had an impact in reducing road crash fatalities and injuries in Asia and Africa. AIP Foundation’s creation of a lightweight ‘tropical’ helmet has been hailed as a milestone in child injury prevention. Its signature Helmets for Kids program was officially launched by former US President Bill Clinton in 2000. Setting up the world’s first non profit helmet factory in Vietnam, Greig Craft created a new model of social enterprise demonstrating self-sustainability. Protec has become a recognized leader in producing quality, yet affordable, helmets. Protec puts all ‘profits’ back into local communities for road safety education and public awareness campaigns, and employs the physically disabled as assembly line workers. Greig Craft is a member of the United Nations Commission on Global Road Safety. He was awarded the Prince Michael Award for International Road Safety in 2006, and Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet bestowed an award for his contributions to Road Safety Education in 2007.
Tam Nguyen is the President and owner of Advance Beauty College, Chairman of the Vietnamese American Chamber of Commerce, Consultant to California State University Fullerton’s International Programs, and an active community philanthropist. He lectures for both USC and Cal State Fullerton’s MBA programs. He serves on multiple non-profit boards and foundations including Project Vietnam.. He is a Diverse Leaders Advisor for Disneyland Resort and So Cal Edison and an AAPI Advisor for the local State Assemblywoman, State Senator and Congresswoman. He holds a BS, MD and MBA. Tam is most passionate about spending time with his wife Christine and three children and together they continually strive to make a positive difference in the local community and their homeland.
Linh Kochan is a Software Architect at Western Digital where she designs and develops the architectural and technological needs of Windows software used by the WD Branded Products. Beside the world of engineering, Linh is also actively involved in promoting the rich and beautiful Vietnamese traditional and cultural arts. She has held different roles as grant writer, press writer, marketing director, program director, and master of ceremony for concerts and charitable events. Linh and her husband, Roman, love to explore different parts of the world to experience the local culture, history, art, and cuisine.
Son Michael Pham left Viet Nam on the last day of the war in 1975, as a refugee. He and his family started their lives in the U.S with nothing except the generosity and care of community and church members in Chicago. A natural volunteer, Son Michael served others in the refugee camps, and continued to serve others as he worked his way to become a successful business person. A proud long time member of Rotary International, Son Michael lives his life according to the organization motto – Service Above Self. For most of his life, Son Michael has tirelessly championed causes for children. Son Michael launched Kids Without Borders as a school service projects for students to collect, sort clothes and donated items for children in the community. Today, the organization supports and engages children in more than 30 countries, attracting volunteers worldwide, providing opportunities for youth, as well as benefiting and changing thousands of lives around the world. Son Michael is actively involved in many service agencies and has held many leadership roles within the nonprofit community. He spent more than twenty years in the hospitality industry. Currently, Son Michael is leading two companies in business development. Nguyễn Thị Kinh is a native of Huế and has devoted her life to humanitarian asistance projects for Vietnamese. Kinh was a Senior Lecturer on Agriculture at the University of Hue and later served as Vice-Rector of the University. In 2002, she retired from the teaching profession and joined the Center for School Cooperation and Humanity Education for Hue as Director. Through the Center, Kinh mobilizes and organizes Vietnamese academics and professionals to promote equity in education, health, and social development for the youths in Central Vietnam. The Center focuses on reaching out to children and young people from rural communities in Việt Nam. For the past 10 years, Kinh and her center has cooperated with the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Program of Pacific Links Foundation (PALS).