Jackie Bong-Wright was named a Washingtonian of the Year 2003 by the "Washingtonian" magazine for 27 years of community service here after she fled Communist Vietnam nearly 30 years ago. Having arrived with nothing but three young children, she gradually made her way from Vietnamese war widow to American activist.
Once she had adopted the U.S. as her new country, Jackie focused her work on immigrants and refugees, and sought to provide a service to her fellow Americans. In 1981, Jackie was named one of the country’s 10 outstanding Asian-Americans by the U.S.-Asia Institute for re-settling boat people refugees. Five years ago, Jackie founded the Vietnamese-American Voters Association, wishing to assist not only her compatriots but also people from other ethnic groups fulfill a major civic responsibility by registering to vote.
In 2000, she personally registered 2000 voters and was recognized at a gala banquet by the Asian Pacific American Coalition, a group of organizations she had cooperated with to provide civic education and social services. With their collaboration and other ethnic groups, she has also, for the last five years, held Candidates’ Forums so local and national candidates can explain their political platforms to naturalized citizens and help them decide whom to vote for.
Jackie also initiated Rock and Vote concerts to urge citizens to voice their choice and cast their votes. As recently as this April, she motivated volunteers to launch voter registration drives at shopping malls, churches, Buddhist temples and college campuses in advance of the important 2004 presidential elections.
Finally, Jackie is a reporter for Asian Fortune News and a talk show host for Vietnamese Public Radio and the Vietnamese American Television Network, where she educates her audience on the American voting and elections process.
From L to R: 4th runner-up, Joyce Gresham, Hampton; 1st runner-up, Lover O'Brien, Springfield; Winner, Jackie Bong-Wright, Falls Church; 2nd runner-up, Wendy Pinhey, Annandale; and 3rd runner-up, Suzi Athanas, Virginia Beach.