The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs (OIRA) proudly welcomes our new Director, Cuc Vu!
Vu came to the United States with her family in 1975 as a refugee of the Vietnam War, barely making it through the gates of Tan Son Nhat airport in Saigon as U.S.troops were evacuating Vietnamese refugees on the last day of the war. Following an uncle's advice, Vu's family chose Olympia, Washington as their new home. While her mother worked in a minimum-wage job for more than 20 years, Vu fulfilled her father's greatest wish - for his children to be the first generation in their family to graduate from college. Vu carried the hopes of her parents on her shoulders and earned an undergraduate degree at Pomona College and a graduate degree as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. In her new role as Director of the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs for the City of Seattle, Vu not only brings her life experience as a refugee who knows the stigma of food stamps and the prestige of an Ivy League school, but also twelve years of experience working on immigrant and refugee affairs as an advocate, issue organizer and non-profit founder and executive. Vu's experience on immigrant and refugee issues is bolstered by a passion for equity and equality, working for two decades on some of the most important civil rights issues of our time, including the rights of workers, women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
As immigration campaign manager for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Vu helped the union earn its reputation as the most effective union on comprehensive immigration reform, according to The Washington Post. Vu demonstrated a keen ability to build broad coalitions and to work collaboratively with national, state and local organizations to affect policy change. Working alongside her mentor, Eliseo Medina, who recently led the fast to demand a vote on immigration reform from the leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives, Vu co-founded Mi Familia Vota and Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, two national organizations designed to improve the civic engagement of Latino immigrants.
Vu most recently served as the first Chief Diversity Officer for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) where she provided the vision and strategy to help the organization fulfill its stated commitment to diversity and inclusion. Vu sought to advance diversity and inclusion by providing transformative leadership training and creating engagement programs that improve lives. Vu's impact is seen in programs like Equality Leaders for the 21st Century to diversify HRC's talent pipeline for its boards and steering committees and MLK Day of Service to engage HRC's million-plus members to serve LGBT homeless youth. As a reflection of her ability to create unusual partnerships for strategic outcomes, Vu forged a partnership with the National Association of Latino Elected Officials to position HRC as the only LGBT organization to advance citizenship drives in the immigrant community across 17 cities. Among her diversity and inclusion peers, Vu is sought out for her analysis of intersectional issues, including race, sexual orientation and gender identity. She has supported and advised diversity and inclusion initiatives of major corporations including Unilever, Shell Oil and Proctor & Gamble.
Prior to SEIU, Vu worked at the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Department of Labor to advance working women's issues. Vu has served on several boards, including the National Immigration Forum, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership. She is an alum of the Rockwood Leadership Program and the Asian Pacific American Women's Leadership Institute. One of her proudest achievements is the Pomona College Inspirational Young Alumni Award, a prestigious honor given to a young alumnus or alumna in recognition of their dedication, perseverance, and consistency in following the inscription on the College Gates: "They only are loyal to this college who departing bear their added riches in trust for mankind." Her story is part of the 1,000 Stories project.
Vu and her wife are new parents of a beautiful baby boy. She is a soccer fanatic and has played competitive soccer since she was 8 years old.