Matt has dedicated his career to empowering everyday Californians—children, families, and communities—through civil rights litigation and policy advocacy. If elected on June 5th, Matt would be the only Vietnamese American, and only Asian American, member of the Orange County Board of Education.
Matt knows that refugees and immigrants enrich our country.
Matt's parents fled Communist Vietnam as child refugees during 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. Born and raised in Huntington Beach and Garden Grove, and humbled by their sacrifices, Matt understands that our country's greatness comes from its long history of weaving immigrants and their children into our nation's fabric, and investing in their future success as productive Americans.
Matt fights tirelessly to ensure social, economic, and political opportunity for all.
Matt knows how to make government and policies work for everyone. As an aide 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. In the face of North Carolina's draconian voter suppression laws, Matt championed voting rights in minority 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 Russian election interference. Matt also joined with former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to integrate technical apprenticeships into community colleges and develop public-private partnerships that create middle-class jobs across the country.
Matt is a staunch advocate for high-quality public education.
Matt believes an outstanding public education is a right guaranteed to all, not a privilege for only a select few. In Governor Brown's administration, Matt worked to promote sustained investment in our world-class UC, CSU, and community college systems, empower local educators, and improve K-12 public school funding. Through his community organizing for Teach for America, Matt inspired the next generation of leaders to teach in underserved schools across our country. He himself has taught at Yale University and UC Berkeley, and was a senior teacher for Edison High's Honors MUN program. Matt recently assisted the ACLU of Southern California in securing a historic $150 million settlement for public school students. Today, he directs a nonprofit education rights clinic that represents students and families in landmark civil rights lawsuits challenging racial segregation in public schools and defending their constitutional right to a high-quality public education.
Matt is a proud alumnus of Orange County public schools, including Edison High, Sowers Middle, and Peterson Elementary. He graduated salutatorian from the University of California, Berkeley, and will earn his Juris Doctor from Yale Law School as a recipient of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, an editor of the Yale Law Journal, and the only Vietnamese American in his graduating class. Matt was recognized as an "extraordinary change-maker" by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and as an "emerging global leader" by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald. He volunteers for local OC Boy Scout Troop 319, where he was an Eagle Scout.