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BeBe is currently the Deputy Director at Reston Community Center, a CAPRA-accredited agency in Fairfax County, VA, serving a community of 60,000-plus residents and 40,000-plus employees. She has held this position since January 2022. As the Deputy Director, she leads a dynamic administrative team and actively participates in various operational functions, including strategic planning, capital projects and facilities management, systems migration and continuous improvement.

Born in Vietnam, Bebe came to the United States at the young age of nine. But her journey to America wasn’t easy. After multiple failed attempts, she made the successful voyage alongside her uncle, Son Nguyen, who was imprisoned in a Communist reeducation camp for five years.

BeBe was one of the millions of Vietnamese who left in the early 1980s during the “boat people” period, a term that came into common use in the 1970s with the mass exodus of Vietnamese refugees following the Vietnam War. Refugees risked their lives on dangerously crude and overcrowded boats to escape oppression or poverty in their home nations.

According to BeBe, her unforgettable journey to America is still vividly imprinted in her mind. She left Saigon on a late spring evening and reached the US in the fall of that same year. Leaving on a small fishing boat with over 100 people in the cabin, BeBe said they became stranded at sea for days until her boat came upon an oil platform in the Pacific Ocean. Here they were provided with food and water as well as a map that helped her boat get to Malaysia.

After four days, her boat landed on an island called Pulau Bidong where thousands of Vietnamese refugees were staying. BeBe was sent to a refugee camp called Sungei Besi where she befriended her father’s friend, a Malaysian professor, Mr. Ambrose Loke, who taught English and helped prepare BeBe for her journey to the states. Thirty years after they met, she reconnected with her benefactor through Facebook and visited him in Kuala Lumpur in 2012. (pictured below)

For 11 years, she worked for ExxonMobil after which she joined RCC in May 2007 as Director of Communications. Since then, she has dedicated her work to fulfilling a core principle of Reston’s founder, Robert Simon, to ensure Restonians enjoyed a wide range of cultural and recreational opportunities.

In 2015, BeBe’s early life experiences led her to equity work when she was selected to attend the Northern Virginia Public Service Fellows Program at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, a competitive cohort-based program in which the tuition is paid in part by Fairfax County government to develop future public leaders. There, she embraced the knowledge that supported her work on behalf of the County’s One Fairfax Policy when it was adopted in 2016. BeBe undertook the role of RCC’s Equity Lead. As Equity Lead, she facilitated equity training for RCC staff and is responsible for developing and managing the agency’s Equity Impact Plan.

Working with her colleagues, she ensures that all aspects of RCC’s operations promote equity and minimize barriers that may be creating gaps in opportunity for community members. As Fairfax County embarked on implementing the One Fairfax policy, BeBe joined the Fairfax County’s Equity Ambassador team to train other county agency staff. BeBe has facilitated equity training on structural racism for hundreds of County staff. She embodies and practices all the elements of an inclusive, welcoming work culture. She embraces the positive benefits of diversity and is a reliable advocate for the dignity and worth of each person. BeBe is a staunch supporter of RCC’s social justice programming.

BeBe’s experiences have included serving on Sharon Bulova’s Fairfax County Chairman’s Stakeholders Council on Race; guest lectures at GMU Honors College on immigration issues, and she recently served as a panelist for The National Park Service: Power of Parks for Health Roundtable to address the impact of present and historical barriers to outdoor access for AAPI communities. As an avid hiker, BeBe relished the opportunity to highlight NPS approaches to increasing visibility, representation, and relevancy of AAPI communities in the outdoors. BeBe was also the keynote speaker for Arlington County’s AAPI Heritage Month Proclamation Celebration in 2021.

Growing up in Fairfax County for most of her life, BeBe said she’s benefited from the many programs and services that local governments provided her and her family, especially resources in education, health, employment and entrepreneurship. She wholeheartedly believes that the diversity of the region contributes to a stronger economy and raises the quality of life for all its residents.

In her personal life, BeBe and her husband are carrying on the tradition of helping new immigrants reach their American Dream. She and her husband have sponsored and welcomed many newly immigrated family members to the United States and provided housing as well as the needed support and guidance to help them ease into a new life in America.

BeBe is a long-time member of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and Virginia Recreation and Park Society (VRPS). She is currently serving on the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and as a mentor for the Leadership Fairfax Institute Emerging Leaders Program. BeBe holds a master’s degree in public administration from the George Mason SCHAR School of Policy and Government and a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from Georgetown University. She is a graduate of the Leadership Fairfax Inc. class of 2014.



Where I’m From
by BeBe Nguyen

I am from rural Vietnam, to Hochiminh to refugee camps

to multi-dwellings to Virginia suburbs.

Bathing in sand, streams and brooks to bathing in the American dream.

No mom, a little bit of dad but loved by grandma and uncles and aunts.

All played mom or dad at different moments in time.

I am from one outfit and no new clothes ‘til Lunar New Year.

Born so small with acute asthma, Grandma’s once upon a story was I was not meant to live.

Conceived from a wounded RVN soldier and a village girl who nursed him back to health.

Born during wartime and no understanding of why I had to leave,

I am from many boats that carried me to find freedom and my father.

From multiple failed attempts to escape

to captured and confined along with “boat people” en masse.

Lying next to a girl with head of lice in a human “sardine” shack.

I am freed from the many payoffs to the officials that chased and shot at us.

“One more boat trip and this is it…” my grandma would say.

“You need to be with your father or who will care for you when I am gone.”

Oh did I know of hunger and thirst, of deep loss and hope.

Etched in memory, the heat and smell of burning gasoline, from an oil platform spearing out from the middle of the Pacific.

Of the desperate grasp for that last glimmer of hope.

After days at sea, Hope came, and I was saved.

Lifted by dozens and hoisted by so many I have never met.

I am a child of Atari, of Pacman, Galaga and Centipede

From hopscotch and marbles to kickball and dodge

Of roller skates at TJ Community Center and summer camps at 4H,

Painted in so many colors that I see my 9-year-old self in every child.

I am of simple pleasures and freedom like the air I breath,

Like the handmade noodles and the wheatfields of my youth.

I am from the whole world and calling impermanence home,

Of pragmatism and gratitude for humanity’s generosity and a soldier’s sacrifice.

And just like you, my soul is a product of my time and the summation of my experiences. 

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