WASHINGTON DC - At the Inaugural National Summit of Vietnamese American Leaders, held at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC on July 2, 2011, over two hundred leaders, with a large proportion from the second generation of Vietnamese Americans, joined hands to develop a national platform to advance the community in the next decade.

Summit Delegates from 20 states enthusiastically called for the next Summit
Nearly 250 delegates from 20 states participated in three tracks to draft national strategies for community empowerment in all three sectors of society: political, economic, and social. "To build a strong foundation for our future in America, we need effective and committed leaders in all three sectors and sustainable civic institutions - both of which are currently lacking in our community," said Shandon Phan, Chair of the Summit's Organizing Committee.

Through an organizing model of local delegations and national steering committees and months of intense pre-Summit planning, Summit leaders aim to develop a comprehensive national strategy on July 2nd. In addition, teams of leaders are ready to implement projects afterward in different local communities across the country.

In the political empowerment track, delegates introduced a plan to set up a national Political Action Committee (PAC) focusing on candidate recruitment and mentoring, fundraising, and voter registration, education and mobilization. The national PAC will also help establish and coordinate a network of local PACs. Among delegates attending this track, 21 volunteered to work on the national PAC and 12 expressed interest in running for public office at some point. The delegates set their initial fundraising goal at $100,000 to start up the effort.

In the economic empowerment track, delegates put forth a strategy to build chambers of commerce capable of meeting the development needs of approximately 230,000 Vietnamese American small businesses. In particular, they will focus their efforts to strengthen the Vietnamese American National Chamber of Commerce (VietAmCham), which was established in early 2009, and strengthen or build local chambers of commerce.

In the community building track, delegates will focus on developing leadership capacity and resources for the Vietnamese American community across the country. BPSOS, the largest Vietnamese American community organization which spearheads, hosts, and serves as the trustee of the Summit project, introduced two national initiatives to advance that mission: (1) Vietnamese American Research Institute (VARI); and (2) "500 in 5 Years" Leadership Development Initiative, aimed to develop the next corps of leaders for the community in all three sectors.

"500 In 5 Years" will be officially deployed early in 2012 with the aim of training 100 young leaders each year nationwide. Curriculum is being tested with six participants in Alabama and Mississippi.

"Through practical, hands-on projects, "500 in 5" participants will develop their own leadership capacity while providing the manpower to implement the national strategies in all three tracks," said LanAnh Nguyen, who presented the strategy for community building.

The Summit receives strong support from some of America's best leaders, such as Frances Hesselbein, Chairman of Leader to Leader Institute; Dr. Robert Ivany, President of University of Saint Thomas and retired U.S. Army general; JD Hokoyama, President of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP); and John Anner, Executive Director of East Meets West Foundation.

Asked whether they support having the next Summit, all delegates stood up to show their enthusiastic support for the second summit in the summer of 2012. A location will be voted on within the next few months.

"In 12 months, if each of us just gathered four more like-minded individuals, we would have a thousand participants in 2012," Dr. Nguyen Dinh Thang, Executive Director of BPSOS and the Summit's key strategist, called on all delegates. "And aim for five thousand in 2013. Together, we can build that force for change in our community."

(Source: http://vasummit2011.org/)