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Tony Vo


WCCDA Narrative Series | Twelve

DEC 2022


Seattle University by Google

I am 31 years old. I grew up in High Point and in White Center. I attended Mt. View, Cascade, and Evergreen. I like to dream big, and I do a lot of things like forming a collective with friends called VietQ for LGBTQ Vietnamese folks to celebrate and empower one another. One of my passions is education. Currently, I am working as the Assistant Director of Admissions & Student Life at Seattle University School of Law and as an Adjunct Faculty at Bellevue College. One of the projects I am working on is starting the first student of color orientation.

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Peter (partner) and Tony

Thanks to the support of my family, teachers, and school counselors, I had an incredibly positive upbringing in White Center. I feel privileged because I have always had people who believed in me and pushed me to be out there. Growing up poor and being the youngest in my family, I had a lot of time to myself without much structure. So, I read a lot. I participated in many afterschool programs and clubs. Though it was a way for my mom to keep me out of trouble while no one was at home, these activities allowed me to stretch my imagination and be creative. I also attribute a lot of my success to my older sister. Being 3 years older, she was the trailblazer in the family and led the way for me. Though I really enjoyed my upbringing, I know that not every student is lucky to have the experience and support that I had. There are many spaces in our school system that could be improved. And in my role, I hope that I can help improve some of those spaces for students outside of the classroom.  

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It was not until later in life that I understood how education can be a determinant of our success and social well-being. My experience and relationship with White Center and the White Center CDA nurtured my passion for education and led me to where I am today. When I was 21 years old and majoring in public health, I met Sili Savusa and the White Center CDA. My friend and I approached Sili and Pat Thompson with the idea to start a 5K run in White Center. During that time, there was not anything like that here, and I wanted our community to feel safe running through our neighborhood. I wanted people to feel connected and for businesses to be involved. Immediately after approaching the CDA, we formed a 5K planning committee. Our goal was to have 100 community members show up, but we had more than 300. 

After a few years of supporting the 5K, I applied to work at the CDA as the Promise Director. I did not think I had the experience for the position, but Sili really believed in me. I am super grateful for the opportunity. That position helped me grow so much professionally. The CDA really supports young people of color to be able to dream big, and it gave me the platform to follow through with my ideas. At the CDA, I started the White Center to White House program to engage youth in community building. I helped manage grants and staff. I got to meet so many community leaders. I see the CDA as a convener of many people and partners. They prioritize POC families and ensure that POC families are part of the processes.  


The CDA is like family. Once you are a part of it, you will always be a part of it. When I went into graduate school, I stopped working at the CDA. But I did not leave completely. I became a board member and then a board vice chair. It was my first time being a formal board member, and through those 3.5 years, I learned even more being behind the scenes and seeing the big picture of how an organization functions. I gained so many transferrable skills through the CDA. I feel like the CDA prepared me for the real world, and the knowledge and language I learned around racial justice, I now incorporate in my current diversity and inclusion role.

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Family Portrait by Tony

Image by Wes Hicks

On top of everything, the CDA is also where I found love, both love for community and love for my partner, Peter. Peter and I share so much of the same love we have for our community, and he is also a former CDA employee. We are now in the third year of operating a balloon arrangement business together.  


There is so much joy in White Center. I am so proud of our community and how we continue to support each other. There are so many creative ideas. And I hope that we can all continue to dream big and pursue what’s fun for us!

End of Narrative

Hope by Unsplash

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