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New Leadership brings Vision and Hope to Emerging Vietnamese Amerasian Nonprofit

Updated: Apr 9




Washington, DC, Monday, November 22, 2021:

On Thursday, November 18, 2021, the Tim Lai Board of Directors elected Dr. Kieu Linh Valverde to serve as the interim president of the newly emerging nonprofit. The former president, Luna Howard, tendered her resignation in order to pursue an alternate mission for the Amerasian cause.

Tim Lai was formed in March 2020 by a diverse group of Amerasians and allies from across the country representing government officials, academics, entrepreneurs, and activists. From that meeting, a group of committed individuals agreed to form a nonprofit, incorporated as Amerasian Heritage Quest and now working under the name of Tim Lai. The mission of Tim Lai is to build an inclusive transnational Amerasian community and to preserve the Amerasian evolving history for future generations. It also provides support to organizations and individuals working across the country to reunite Amerasians of the Vietnam War era – both in the United States and in Vietnam – with their relatives, including American fathers, Vietnamese mothers, and extended family members.

The Board of Directors voted unanimously for Dr. Valverde to serve as Interim President in order to guide the organization through expanding the Board of Directors and establishing the infrastructure to assure the long-term success and impact of Tim Lai. Dr. Valverde is a respected thought-leader in Southeast Asian American history and contemporary issues and a long-time activist for Amerasian issues. She currently serves as an Associate Professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Davis where she is the founding director of the New Viet Nam Studies Initiative (NVSI). Dr. Valverde is joined by Mr. Sean Lam, a successful business leader in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, who will serve as Interim Treasurer. The other sitting members of the Board of Directors include Mr. Hung H. Bui, an Administrative Patent Judge at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), and Mr. Austin Kiet Pham, a successful business owner and well-known and respected Vietnamese Amerasian leader in the Washington, DC-area.

Statement from Dr. Valverde and the Tim Lai Board of Directors:

In Vietnamese, the word Tim means “heart” – and depending upon the pronunciation, when pronounced tìm can also mean “find.” Lai means mixed race. The goal of Tim Lai is the creation of community and the reunification of Vietnamese Amerasians with the families from whom they may have been separated in the aftermath of war.

Given the advances in/increased availability of DNA testing in recent years, there is a growing effort spearheaded by Amerasians and assisted by allies across the United States and in Viet Nam to search for the relations from whom they have been separated, including American fathers and families as well as Vietnamese relatives. We at Tim Lai envision bringing together individuals to share their stories and preserve their lived experiences. This sharing may offer clues to enable Amerasians and their family members to locate and reach out to one another.

Tim Lai’s origins were inspired by the resourcefulness and dedication of Amerasians to this cause. Amerasians volunteer their time and financial resources to get DNA kits to relevant parties, help fill out necessary paperwork, and share their own stories to inspire others to take action and seek connection with family members. The activism of Amerasians today mirrors that of young Amerasians in Viet Nam, who – more than thirty years ago – began reaching out to journalists, government officials, and politicians from the United States and Viet Nam to advance the creation of the first pilot program to bring Amerasians and their families to the United States. It was also Amerasians and concerned friends with influence who convinced policymakers to create the bilateral Amerasian Homecoming Act. And it is Amerasians and their friends and allies who created Tim Lai to usher in another crucial moment in Vietnam-US history – the humanitarian work of offering hope and viable avenues to creating community and documenting Amerasian history.

– Tim Lai Board

Tim Lai, incorporated under Amerasian Heritage Quest, is a 501c3 dedicated to building an inclusive transnational Amerasian community, support organizations and individuals working to reunite Amerasians of the Vietnam War era with their relatives, and preserve the rich and complex history of the Vietnamese Amerasian journey for future generations. To learn more about the members of the Board of Directors and the vision of Tim Lai, please visit www.timlai.org.

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