Dear Community Members, Partners, Supporters, & Advocates,
My name is Jacqueline Thanh, and it is an honor to write to you as the Executive Director of VAYLA New Orleans. I am deeply humbled and absolutely honored to continue raising awareness on issues facing our community and building capacity for progress. Our mission to empower youth and families in New Orleans is more important than ever and will be accomplished with your continued involvement and support.
I am excited to bring over a decade of expertise in intersectional direct services and advocacy work that has encompassed bilingual youth and family services as well as survivor advocacy. I know first hand that the investment in socio-emotional health alongside education and vocational access for our youth are what sustain and progress the foundation of our civic engagement as a community. As a daughter of Vietnamese boat people, I am proud to have been raised by a community of refugees. As a first-generation college graduate, clinically trained social worker, and human rights activist--I am the fruition of leadership and community investment.
I’d also like to take a moment to share with you one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind as I accepted this position: Storms only make trees take deeper roots. Storms have passed. And the roots for the youth and community here in New Orleans East are stronger than ever. VAYLA is a sacred space that does something truly profound, we hold challenging and complex conversations around trauma, our environment, and access to opportunities. These conversations are put into action through programmatic work alongside community led campaigns so that we are able to support and nurture our young people; ensuring that they become leaders who organize and act on behalf of themselves and their communities. VAYLA will continue to be the space for a deliberate alignment of intention and impact as we work across racial, cultural, and generational lines in an ever-changing landscape to foster resilience.
Resiliency is an understanding that extends beyond the systems of oppression--who WE are is powerful. We are here. We count. Our voices matter. I witness that spark of truth in every youth, elder, and community member I have encountered in New Orleans. I look forward to organizing pathways to leadership for our youth and the next generation through fighting for equity and access.