By Phuong Tran Communications Associate

If you follow the ACLU of Virginia on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), you probably have been interacting with me. 

This introduction is long overdue, as I joined the ACLU-VA in August 2016 as a part-time employee. Now, starting this April, I will be working full-time for the organization and I’d like to properly introduce myself to all of you, our dear audience and ardent supporters.

Let me start by saying that it’s an honor to be able to work for the ACLU-VA, standing side by side with my fearless and brilliant colleagues and contributing to the fight for civil rights and civil liberties in the Commonwealth. Coming all the way from Vietnam, a country ruled by an oppressive regime, I have come to love and cherish America, even though this country has its own deep-rooted problems.

As an outsider, I view America as a country ridden with contradictions: the wealthiest country in the world yet probably one with the widest wage gap between the rich and the poor, with racism, sexism, discrimination against marginalized groups, and abuse of power rampant throughout the country. Yet, at the same time, America is still a democracy centered around the people, who will fight for their rights and the rights of others.

After the election, I’ve witnessed democracy in action on so many levels. People came together to protest in cities across the country; rushed to the airports to greet arrivals affected by the Muslim ban or to offer assistance to immigration attorneys on the ground; called and wrote to their representatives during the General Assembly session and now to members of Congress to oppose unconstitutional legislation; and in general stood up for fundamental American values of justice and equality.

I think America is already great, because you have the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the people who will fight tooth and nail to defend these tenets of this democracy and safeguard the liberties for all. I am deeply humbled to be able to work for the ACLU-VA, especially at this moment in time, and become part of this resistance movement, helping in a very small way to fight back and advance equality in Virginia. 

I am a graduate of Randolph College, formerly known as Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, in Lynchburg, Va., with a degree in communications studies and philosophy. During my college years, I was deeply involved with the student-run newspapers and worked as the co-editor-in-chief in my senior year, overseeing the entire production process while pursuing investigative stories on sexual assaults, administrative transparency, and student activism, among others. I was also the managing editor for a blogging project called Randolph Riot, an online platform where a diverse group of students came together and discussed women’s rights, reproductive rights, intersectional feminism, and other topics viewed through the lens of college students.

Through these leadership roles and the constant interactions with students from various backgrounds, I realized that I enjoyed doing advocacy and activism work. No matter how challenging it was, my work brought me great joy and a sense of accomplishment as I raised awareness about important issues on my campus and encouraged members in the community to take action.

I hope to make a difference and facilitate changes, no matter how small, wherever I am. Probably that’s why moving on to work at the ACLU-VA as a communications associate and social media manager is the perfect next step for me.

As part of my job at the ACLU-VA, I manage the organization’s social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, helping the ACLU-VA get its messages across to a wider, more diverse online audience.

It was, and still is, a challenge for me to learn about the ACLU-VA’s positions on so many civil rights issues and create online content, including graphics and videos, that is short, accurate, and compelling. However, I view these challenges as learning opportunities and enjoy getting to know you, my audience, so that I can create content that is informative, helpful, and meaningful to you.

For me, the most rewarding aspect of my job is to see our online community grow, day by day, and our followers become more active, participating in healthy discussions, sharing our action alerts, tuning-in to our Facebook Live events, and notifying us when they witness civil rights violations in their communities. As the ACLU-VA grows, I am resolved to increase our online presence and engage with more freedom-loving Virginians, because I believe that changes are possible when we all work together on multiple fronts. I love the community that we have, and I appreciate our followers, who stand with us and help us accomplish our advocacy mission.

To all of you, I say thank you. You make my job all worthwhile.