Matt Nguyen has dedicated his career to empowering children, families, and communities through civil rights litigation and policy advocacy.
Matt knows that refugees and immigrants enrich our communities.
Matt's parents fled Vietnam as child refugees at the height of the Vietnam War. 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 Huntington Beach and Garden Grove, and humbled by their sacrifices, Matt understands that America’s greatness comes from its long history of weaving immigrants and their children into our nation's fabric, and investing in their future success.
Matt has fought to ensure social, economic, and political opportunity for all.
Matt knows how to make government and policies work for everyone. As an advisor to Governor Jerry Brown, Matt worked to raise the statewide minimum wage to $15 an hour (making California the first state in the nation to do so), tackle climate change, expand access to affordable housing and quality healthcare, and balance California's budget. During the Ebola crisis and Syrian Civil War, he rallied global support for Ebola victims and Syrian refugees as a humanitarian advisor for USAID. Against the backdrop of North Carolina's draconian voter suppression laws, Matt championed voting rights in underserved communities through President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign. As a legal researcher for Senator Kamala Harris's transition team, he supported bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers, combat cyber-exploitation, and investigate Russia’s 2016 election interference. Matt has also advised former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm on policies that integrate technical apprenticeships into community colleges and ignite public-private partnerships that create middle-class jobs across the country.
Matt is a tireless advocate for high-quality public education.
Matt believes an outstanding public education is a right guaranteed to all. In Governor Brown's office, Matt worked to promote sustained investment in California’s world-class higher education system, empower local educators, and improve K-14 public school funding. Through his organizing for Teach for America, Matt inspired the next generation of community leaders to teach in disadvantaged schools across America. He has taught at Yale University, UC Berkeley, and K-12 public schools—including as a senior teacher for Edison High's Model UN program. He directed a nonprofit education rights clinic that represents students and families in landmark civil rights lawsuits challenging racial segregation in public schools, school discipline policies that criminalize children, and severe funding inequities in K-12 public education. In 2017, Matt assisted the ACLU of Southern California in securing a historic $150 million settlement for underserved public school students.
Matt is a proud alumnus of local OC public schools, including Edison High, Sowers Middle, and Peterson Elementary. He graduated salutatorian from UC Berkeley, and earned his law degree from Yale Law School as an editor of the Yale Law Journal, a recipient of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, and as the only Vietnamese American student in his graduating class. Matt has been recognized as an "extraordinary change-maker" by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and an "emerging global leader" by U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald. He volunteers for OC Boy Scout Troop 319, where he earned the rank of Eagle Scout.