30 under 30: mai t. dang

Mai T. Dang
Age: 25
Community Organizer, Mary Queen of Viet Nam Community Development Corporation

Why she's influential: Because she's holding it down on the ground as a community organizer. Today's entry is written by Christina Wadhwani, friend and colleague to Mai T. Dang, an organizer for the Vietnamese American community in New Orleans, and soon-to-be graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's School of Urban Planning and Design:

A woman warrior, fearless feminist, amazing community leader, and avid sponge ready to soak up what her surrounding environment has to offer only to squeeze back to the world her uncensored intellect, Mai has been a globe trotter and making ripples wherever her toes touch. She graduated from the George Washington University in 2006, and the day after graduation, moved to New Orleans East, the "backyard" of touristy New Orleans to aid Vietnamese and Vietnamese American Katrina victims.

A community organizer for the Mary Queen of Viet Nam Community Development Corporation (MQVN CDC), Mai organized the community and local neighborhood groups to close a neighborhood landfill which was toxic to the community. Securing relationships with key political figures, city council representatives, district members, and congressional members/staff, Mai helped put the Vietnamese community in New Orleans East on the map.

Her successful track record of community organizing also includes working with the city to rezone the Vietnamese Community on New Orleans' map, forcing the city to invest in the low income, marginalized communities of color in New Orleans East, bridging the racial gaps between different communities of color, and sustaining dialogue with key political figures to ensure that Vietnamese Americans have a voice at the planning, strategizing, rebuilding, redevelopment, and implementing table.

She is a friend, a mentor, an inspiration, a motivator, a roommate, a woman warrior, an Asian sister, a Vietnamese daughter, an adopted granddaughter, the balance between theory and practice, the mold between action and implementation, and the bridge between academia and grassroots. At 25, Mai T. Dang is a fireball under 30.

(Contributed by Christina Wadhwani)

See the rest of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 here.

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