Tam Nguyen


Tam Dinh Nguyen and his siblings escaped out of Vietnam in May of 1980 and landed in Paulo Bidong, a refugee island in Malaysia. He arrived in Seattle as a refugee in December of 1980. Graduated from Evergreen High School, finished undergraduate studies at the University of Washington, then graduated with a Doctor of Pharmacy from Idaho State University. Worked as a staff pharmacist for Veteran Affairs and later moved to Valley Medical Center.

In 2000, Tam visited Vietnam for the first time since escaping, along with his parents to exhume his ancestors remains. During this trip, Tam witnessed the children of Vietnam with no schooling due to lack of money to pay for tuition. Once back in Seattle, Tam convinced his good friends Tyler Loc DuLam, Michael Grainger, and Tom Page to help start a scholarship foundation to help the poorest Vietnamese children continue school. After a few months of planning and meetings, the four good friends formed the Vietnam Scholarship Foundation Board in 2001.

Tam and his family opened a family business in the heart of Little Saigon in Seattle in 2004, the Tamarind Tree restaurant and then Long Provincial restaurant a few years later. While operating the family businesses, working as a staff pharmacist, and being the VNSF chair; Tam starts to become aware of the injustice in the Vietnamese community of Seattle.

Tam slowly removed himself away from VNSF and pharmacy to focus more on the Vietnamese community of Seattle. Tam was the first to raise his voice about land re-zoning next to the Little Saigon district which will result in the gentrification of small businesses in the district. Tam joined the larger Vietnamese Community Organization of Seattle to defend the Vietnamese businesses, rights of housing, and employment; and pursue the goal to build a cultural center in Seattle to serve the Vietnamese community. Tam later chaired the Friends of Little Saigon to focus on the vibrancy, safety, and culturally relevance of Little Saigon district of Seattle. Tam got invited by the city of Seattle to join the Public Safety Taskforce, Commercial Affordability, and the Seattle Investment Fund Boards.

Tam is now back with VNSF as chair and still an advocate as a Vietnamese voice at the City of Seattle and a board member of Friends of Little Saigon and Seattle Investment Funds.

Published by