Board of Directors
- Tung Bach Ly, Interim Chairman
- Diana Pei Wu, Ph.D., Board Member
- Hamilton Simons-Jones, Treasurer
- Cassandra Tran, Board Member
- Mike Trong Nguyen, J.D., Secretary
- Andre Perry, Ph.D., Board Member
- Nailah Ricco, J.D., Board Member
- Mimi-Cristien Nguyen, Board Member
- Thandor Miller, Board Member
- Tom Costanza, Board Member
Minh Nguyen is the founder and executive director of the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans (VAYLA-NO), a youth-led community-based organization dedicated to youth organizing and youth empowerment.
As a second generation Vietnamese American, born and raised as in New Orleans, Minh has dedicated his life to giving voice to the Asian American community in the Gulf Coast region. His long-term advocacy and organizing efforts have invigorated the political energy of the Vietnamese youth in New Orleans to unite, fight, and protect their communities from government-inflicted environmental injustices, such as negligible flood protections planning, water contamination, and the conversion of their largely African American and Vietnamese American community into a toxic dumpsite. His collaboration with youth organizers in education has blocked English-only policy initiatives from passing in Terrebonne Parish High School. Through his tenacious leadership, the first youth center in Village de l’Est opened in 2007, which currently serves as a hub for youth-focused leadership development and youth-led community organizing activities in this still under-resourced area of New Orleans. In 2008, Minh engaged college and high school students in electoral politics through his coordination of a voter mobilization drive that aimed to enfranchise the Vietnamese American vote in the critical November election cycle.
Minh graduated from Loyola University New Orleans with a double major in management and marketing. His leadership as a student includes his services as the External Vice President of the Union of North American Vietnamese Student Association (UNAVSA) and the Executive Director of the UNAVSA Fourth Annual North American Vietnamese Student Conference.
MK Nguyen joined VAYLA in October 2011 as the new Deputy Director. Her purpose at VAYLA is to strengthen VAYLA’s advocacy and organizing frameworks and to new create new opportunities for community engagement and leadership cultivation in the areas of health, environmental justice, and open and participatory governance.
Her interest is to work with others to improve the conditions of poor and working class people of color and immigrant communities in New Orleans, through shifting the resources and mindset of the city towards securing the rights of all people to have access to quality education, good jobs with living wages, quality and affordable healthcare, community-based planning and political self-determination within open and democratic city governance, affordable and quality public transportation, healthy and sustainable neighborhoods, and to safe and affordable housing in their city.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity from Saint Catherine University, in St. Paul, Minnesota and a Master of Arts in Equity and Social Justice in Education from San Francisco State University.
Dianna Hong Nguyen – Administrative Director
General Education Development (GED) Program
English Second Language (ESL) Program
Dianna Hong Nguyen has lived in New Orleans for the last 36 years. Her family was one of the first Vietnamese families to reside in New Orleans in 1975 after the Vietnam War. After she was very effective as an administrative assistance at a local elementary school in New Orleans east, she joined VAYLA-NO as an administrator.
After a year of reflection and given an opportunity with hands-on experience with tutoring the GED to people ranging from 18 to 50, Dianna is an advocate of the GED program. She urges people to never give up on themselves. Her dedication and genuine love for education will guide the young adults to achieve their dreams.
Her goal is not only to be a dedicated staff member overseeing the administrative area of VAYLA-NO but also to tutor and prepare people for the GED test. She encourages all the people, who for whatever reason during their adolescent life have dropped out of high school to come to VAYLA-NO to prepare them to receive the GED certificate.
Huong Nguyen – Outreach and Program Coordinator
Young Womyn’s Leadership Program
VAYLA Social: Sports Tournament & Entertainment Showcase
Huong T. Nguyen became an active member of the Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans (VAYLA-NO) in 2006 and became a staff in 2008. She was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She graduated from the University of New Orleans in 2012, where she majored in Business Marketing.
She is the founder and Program Coordinator of the Young Women’s Leadership Program (YWLP). She empowered young women to start playing flag football in her community and was able to encourage VAYLA Annual Social Youth Sports Tournament to establish the first ever female sport that was male-dominated. At VAYLA, Huong facilitates bi-weekly general meetings for members as well as create the bi-weekly vlogs, newsletters, and outreach materials.
Huong was awarded the 2009 Service Leader/Youth Ally Change Maker Award from the Gulfsouth Youth Action Corps and she was also the 2nd Runner Up in the 2009 ASPIRE Outstanding Woman of the Year Award.
Her goals are to create a safe space for women of the community as well as empower young women into leaders.
Tuyet Ngo joined VAYLA in early September 2011. She is a second generation Vietnamese American who grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and lived there for most of her life. She graduated from Oberlin College, a small liberal arts college in Northeast Ohio, in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Comparative American Studies. Tuyet is currently a full-time student, earning her Master’s in Public Health at Tulane University. She expects to graduate in May 2013.
Tuyet works at VAYLA part-time, promoting the emotional, physical, and mental well-being of youth during Kick Back Night.
She also focuses on health-related advocacy and networking, improving the relationships among young people and the elders of the Vietnamese community in New Orleans East and the Westbank through a partnership with the Southeast Asia Resource Center.
Eliana Bronstein joined VAYLA in September 2011 as the Education Program Coordinator. She grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey and graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying Fine Arts and Literature with a focus in Picture Book Art. Eliana loves has devoted her time and talent to the youth since high school when she tutored kids at a local Hebrew school. Eliana moved to New Orleans in August 2011 to participate in AVODAH Jewish Service Corps, a year long program working at VAYLA and living in an intentional community with nine people who also work at local non-profit organizations.
At VAYLA, Eliana is here to support and tutor students preparing for college – whether it’s for college applications, scholarships, financial aid, personal statements or studying for the ACT.
Come out to set up an appointment for one-on-one tutoring sessions or you can stop by VAYLA during her drop-in hours on Monday afternoons from 4-7pm. She is also working with Jacob Cohen on the Raise Your Hand Campaign (RYHC), a youth-led campaign on education equity issues. Eliana works closely on the art projects and supports the RYHC adult and youth staff on all project planning and implementation. She also co-teaches the adult ESL class with Dianna Hong.
Eliana is so happy to be working with such a talented group of youth!
Cam Tu came to the United States when she was twelve. She graduated in 2012 from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she majored in Anthropology and minored in Sociology and Philosophy. She became passionate about societal issues (especially the lack of equal opportunities and social mobility in the U.S.) because of her working parents and because of what she learned in college. In her senior year, she joined Organized and United for Respect at Vanderbilt, a community organization that strives to lift workers at Vanderbilt University out of poverty wages.
Cam Tu came to VAYLA because she wants to engage and work with the Vietnamese, Hispanic and black community in New Orleans East to bring about necessary systemic changes. The Civil Rights movement and the women’s movement are two greatest inspirations in her organizing work.
She also loves writing, reading, watching films and TV shows, and dancing. Her favorite food is bun bo hue, and her favorite drink is pineapple boba tea.
Timmy Vo became an active member of VAYLA-NO in 2007 and became a staff in 2012. He was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana and graduated from Xavier University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree of Chemistry/Pre-Med. He dedicated his time outreaching to young people locally and nationally through various student organizations such as Xavier University Asian Association (XUAA), Asian American Student Intercollegiate Association (AASIA), and Union of North American Vietnamese Student Association (UNAVSA).
Timmy outreaches to young people through social media about available health programs at VAYLA and other supportive services in the community that focuses on improving immediate and long-term psychological health of young people. He focuses on raising awareness of wellness and self-care through his community health forums. Timmy also connects with Family Circle leaders to develop and implement the Photovoice project, a therapeutic method that uses photography to identify community issues and promote positive social change in the community.
His goal is to provide opportunities for young people to improve their physical, mental, and environmental well-being and to motivate them to become positive young leaders in the community.
Chris joined VAYLA in November 2012. Originally from Plainfield, New Jersey, Chris has spent the last several years in Chicago, Illinois, working in partnership with communities to tackle the systemic social nd health disparities affecting them. He has been responsible for directing comprehensive initiatives that took youth-led preventative approaches to addressing violence, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, and childhood obesity. Chris is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, where he majored in Africana Studies and Political Science.
As the Raise Your Hand Campaign’s Media & Communications Director, Chris supports VAYLA staff and student leaders in crafting stories about their education equity campaigns, using the power of media to amplify youth voices in education policy and decision-making. He focuses on media outreach, developing media trainings, and managing the RYHC website.
Chris is excited about working with youth and community leaders in New Orleans to build a movement that transforms the educational system to one that truly serves students and families.
Julie Juarez joined VAYLA in November 2012 as the Educational Equity Youth Organizer working with the Reed Renaissance Initiative. Julie is a second generation Mexican American who was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She graduated from Pomona College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chican@-Latin@ Studies and Spanish. Julie’s work is influenced by her experience within immigrant communities.
At Pomona, Julie worked as an Educational Outreach Coordinator at the Draper Center for Community Partnerships and was a part of Workers for Justice, a worker-led movement to increase wages and health benefits for Pomona College dining hall workers.
At VAYLA she hopes to continue working toward youth empowerment, social and educational equity, and community voice.
Erica Buher – Youth Development Coordinator
Margaret Xuan Dung Fellowship Program
VAYLA’s Summer Program
Erica Buher joined VAYLA in October 2012 as the Youth Development Coordinator. Prior to this, Erica worked as a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate, focusing on foreign relations, homeland security, and defense. Erica became passionate about social justice as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in African Studies and Political Science. She also currently serves on the Board of Directors for ATRAVES, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Barrio Camilo Ortega, an impoverished neighborhood in Managua, Nicaragua.
In this capacity, she supports the Margaret Xuan Dung Fellowship program and VAYLA’s Organizing Training Institute.
Erica’s other passions include Paulo Freire, baked goods, and puppies.