Starting her career as a journalist, Diana strived to tell stories about those furthest from justice but soon realized that individuals and communities are best positioned to tell their own stories. She transitioned to the nonprofit and public policy sector because she wanted to promote authentic stories as a way to dismantle harmful narratives that stand in the way of change.
As the communications director for the Community Center for Education Results, Diana worked with colleagues to shift how they describe education inequity. Instead of focusing on student-level outcomes, such as test scores, the center moved toward highlighting systemic shortcomings and amplifying community aspirations. Diana says she is proud of this work because she understands what it’s like to have her community boiled down to a single, “sad story.”
Growing up in a family of Vietnamese refugees, Diana says she remembers how often she was advised to use her family’s story of struggle as a way to “tug at the heartstrings” for sympathy. “When the expectation is that I end this story with me, the American-born daughter living the American Dream, it excuses the systems of power responsible for my family leaving Vietnam,” she says. For Diana, connecting the experiences of individual people to systemic problems and solutions is more effective for driving change; and it’s what she hopes to lead at Group Health Foundation.
“I’m excited to join Group Health Foundation because they are taking the time to build trust and listen to those most impacted by inequities.” Looking forward, Diana hopes to learn more about what health equity looks like for communities throughout the state. “Community stories should shape the policies and practices that impact their well-being,” Diana says.
Outside of her work, Diana is always looking for different stories and perspectives and is currently committed to reading more books and articles by authors of color. She also enjoys eating and traveling and recently had a remarkable experience doing both on a visit to Southeast Asia, which included a nationwide tour of Vietnam with her mother, a native of the Mekong Delta.