Meet Matt Nguyen
Matt has dedicated his career to empowering children, families, and communities through public education, policy advocacy, and constitutional rights litigation.
Matt knows that refugees and immigrants enrich our local communities.
Matt’s parents fled Vietnam as child refugees during the Fall of Saigon. They arrived in America with minimal English and only pennies to their name. Through their own perseverance and the support of generous social programs that gave them the opportunity to succeed, Matt’s parents built a better life for themselves and their families. Coming from a working-class background, Matt’s father labored on the docks to put himself through college. During Matt’s childhood, his mother taught him firsthand the importance of giving back through her nonprofit dental work for indigent children across Orange County. Born and raised in Garden Grove and Huntington Beach, and humbled by his parents’ sacrifices, Matt understands that America’s greatness comes from its long history of weaving immigrants and their children into our nation’s bright fabric. He has been a national voice in support of our local Vietnamese community.
Matt has championed social and economic opportunity for all Californians.
As an aide to former Governor Jerry Brown, Matt worked to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15 an hour (making California the first state to do so), expand access to housing and quality healthcare, and balance California’s budget. During the global Ebola crisis and Syrian Civil War, he served as a humanitarian advisor for USAID, rallying worldwide support for Ebola victims and Syrian refugees. Against the backdrop of North Carolina’s voter suppression laws, Matt championed voting rights in underserved communities through President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. He advised Governor Jennifer Granholm on integrating clean energy apprenticeships into community colleges to create middle-class jobs. Following the 2016 election, Matt worked on bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers as part of Senator Kamala Harris’ transition team. After the 2018 election, he oversaw a policy team to advise Governor Gavin Newsom’s transition.
Matt is a tireless advocate for high-quality public education for all.
While in Governor Brown’s office, Matt worked to promote sustained state investment in our K-12 public schools and community colleges, and ensured responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars. He has taught education law at our nation’s top universities, and has also been a K-12 educator—including as a local Model UN teacher. Matt directed a nonprofit education rights clinic that represented students and families in landmark constitutional challenges to the school-to-prison pipeline, school segregation, and severe school funding inequities. In 2017, Matt supported the ACLU in a historic $150 million settlement for disadvantaged students. For his work in education, Matt was recognized as a 2018 changemaker by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and as an emerging global leader by U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald.
Matt is a proud alumnus of our local K-12 public schools, during which time he enrolled in concurrent coursework at Golden West College and Coastline Community College. Matt then graduated salutatorian from the University of California-Berkeley and, with financial support from a national scholarship, he earned his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal, a teaching fellow, a founding member of a constitutional rights coalition, and the only Vietnamese American student in his graduating class. In his free time, Matt enjoys traveling, raising Natsu (his Shiba Inu), and volunteering for local Boy Scout Troop 319—where he earned the rank of Eagle Scout.