Tuesday, December 8, 2009



Voice of Vietnamese Americans congratulates Mr. Nguyen Huu Vinh, the first Vietnamese American who was elected to be the 2010 Chairman of the Board of Nothern Virginia Association of Realtors.

On Thursday, Dec.3, 2009, NVAR held its annual Installation of Officers & Directors and Awards Ceremony at the Fairview Park Marriot. The event was very special to many Vietnamese Americans since the Chairman of 2010 is a Vietnamese American: Mr. Vinh Nguyen, broker and owner of Westgate Realty Group, Inc.

2010 Chairman of the Board, Vinh Nguyen, is making his acceptance speech and sharing his plans for NVAR in the coming year.


Good evening!


What a privilege!

I am truly humbled and honored to be standing here in front of you as the first Vietnamese or even Asian to be elected to this prestigious position.

I see that many of my agents at Westgate Realty Group are here to cheer for me.
Thank you.

My family is here too to support me.
Thank you.

It’s a privilege for me to be elected chairman in an association of this size, one of the largest local realtor associations in the U.S. I follow the footsteps of my predecessors to serve this fine organization.

I came from a long way, as a matter of fact, half the world away!
And the journey here was not uneventful.

I was a teenage refugee at the end of the Vietnam War fleeing for freedom on a flimsy river boat with my entire family. We floated for days before we were picked up by the US Navy. Life and Death at sea was just a flip of the coin and depended on the size of the next wave.

I experienced it all, hunger, thirst, despair. Yet these threats to the human body and spirit were overcome by the sheer determination and the yearning for reaching the land of freedom where nobody can take away our freedom and liberty. I saw that first hand in the eyes of my parents who defied death to pursue what they believed were values worth pursuing.

We Americans tend to take things for granted. We are richly blessed and born with a lot of givens. Please do not forget that there are those who are less fortunate who are constantly deprived of these basic rights.

Once rescued, we were brought to Guam to stay in a refugee camp while waiting for document processing. Guam is our version of what Ellis Island was for the Europeans in the early 20th Century. In just a short period of 3 months during the summer of 1975, more than 130,000 Vietnamese refugees came through this island in the middle of the Pacific.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, the man in charge of the whole operation, was none other than our very own Jack O’Donohue.

I did not know this until a few years ago when he approached me during an event like this.

I bring Jack O’Donohue into my speech this evening first to thank him again for all the good work that he did for the Vietnamese refugees back in 1975, and also for the services provided and the sacrifices made by him and other servicemen and women in our armed forces. Nathan Booth, Charlie Search, Ed Pagett, Kipp Burgoyne, to name just a few.

Where are all the Vietnam veterans here this evening?

How about all of our veterans?

Please stand to be recognized.

We owe you a great debt of gratitude!

The second thing I want to mention about Jack is this: Did you ever hear Jack mention any of these good works that he has done in the past?

That is exactly my point.

You don’t often hear Jack or any of his colleagues talk about accomplishments both during and after the war with their services at the local churches, schools, communities and their volunteer time with the Realtor organizations, whether at the national, state or local levels.

This goes the same with all of you leaders, as well.

Look around you.

You are surrounded by many of them!

We often overlook the accomplishments and the dedication that these unique individuals contribute to their society and communities.

They are truly leaders!

The progress of our communities and associations would not be the same without these individuals. We want more leaders like them around.

One of my personal goals is to reach out to the younger ones out there.

We need more of you to step up to the plate and participate.

We need you to get involved so you can help others become engaged!

Our Northern Virginia Association of Realtors is growing and there are many seats at the table for you to create positive impact!

For many years, I was an outsider.

If it hadn’t been for JoAnne Johnson who nudged me, or shall I say, pushed me into the ring, I would not be here today!

I still remember the moment when Tracy Pless whispered in my ears, just only a few years ago, that I need to think of the chairmanship. Then came the inspirations from Renee Miller, Nathan Booth, David Howell, Tom Stevens and the constant support of Chris Todd and Scott Brunner.

My destiny changed when JoAnne Johnson approached me.

My life changed again once I approached — I would not say a short fellow, but a man as tall as I was, to strike up a conversation.

I did not know at the time that he was the CEO of VAR. I was surprised to receive a hand-written note 2 days later from Scott that made me feel very, very special!

I was inspired and influenced by Scott in many ways that even Scott is not aware of.
As you may know, I am a shy type of person and speaking in front of a group is not an easy thing for me.

I was able to overcome the reluctance by reminding myself that if Scott can do it, I can do it.

I am not as eloquent as he is, but Scott, I am working on it!

Seriously, when I started to get involved, I began to see that I actually can make an impact on the policies that influence our industry.

A few weeks ago, someone asked me what benefits I derived from being involved.
Let me tell you about some of my interesting and very special events

1. I had a chance to go to the White House, of course through the proper channel, for a briefing on housing during the last year of President Bush. I did encourage the administration to take immediate actions because of what I observed first hand on the street.

2. I had the privilege to dine with the Secretary of HUD, Steve Preston along with 10 others like the Presidents of Mortgage Bankers Association, Hope Now Alliance and Neighborworks.

3. I had a one-on-one conversation with NAR President Vicki Cox Golder 4 weeks ago on an issue that I think NAR should take on to help improving the housing market.

4. I briefed a 12-member delegation of the Chinese State Council who gives advice to the Chinese Premier and Deputy Premier on the US Housing Market.

5. And I will leave for Vietnam in a few days, to speak at their first major real estate conference, about how the US Federal government restores and stabilizes our housing market. They want to learn from our experience.

The true joy is to know that you can actually be a part of the system and you can play an important role.

Nobody is ever ready for any position, however prepared.

But in the process of preparation, you learn new things and become informed.

I have enjoyed it so far and look forward to those things that will happen in 2010!
Let me tell you, I know I have a lot of work cut out for me!

Luis Lama, Jane Quill and Susan Mekenney took the helm during some of the worst years of our industry. I commend all of them.

Their courageous leadership brought us through these tumultuous times and we came out ahead. Our Northern Virginia Association of Realtors is as solid as it can be.
I like to think I only have good news to share with you in 2010.

Here’s how I see it:

1. The economy is recovering.

2. The housing market is on the upswing, both in price and in volume.

3. Mortgage interest rates are still at historic lows.

4. Our membership will surpass 11,000.

5. We will have a new LEED certified, modern building to move in with almost no debt.
But let’s not kid ourselves!

Our industry is changing, sometimes rapidly. We need to be alert at all times to properly accommodate our members.

We will revisit our strategy and plan accordingly.

There is work to be done.

I am very excited and glad that we have an excellent Board of Directors and we have assembled a very capable leadership team.

I am also very fortunate to work with the NVAR staff of very capable, resourceful people who are always ready to help.

Our excellent CEO, Christine Todd, is highly regarded throughout the industry and the country. We just celebrated her 20th anniversary with us.

I commend you, Chris.

To my leadership team, one year from now, I hope, as we gather again around this time, you will smile and give yourselves a pat on the back because you have accomplished everything that you set out to do.

That you enjoyed the journey and that you, yes, each one of you, has made a positive impact on the Association.

Thank you for your trust and confidence in me. Thank you for being engaged.

Thank you for your contribution.

May God always bless our Nation and our People.


Vinh Nguyen was born in Vietnam. He left Vietnam in 1975 at the end of the war as a refugee and has since settled in the metro Washington, DC area.

Mr. Nguyen has a Master degree in Economics from Catholic University of America. He also holds a Bachelor degree in Business Administration and Economics from Virginia Commonwealth University. Mr. Nguyen entered the real estate industry as a full time agent in 1987. He formed Westgate Realty Group, Inc., during the summer of 1997 and became its Principal Broker. Westgate Realty Group, Inc. currently has 180 agents, serving Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia.

Mr. Nguyen volunteers to serve in different capacities with the REALTOR organizations. He is currently the 2009 Chairman-Elect of Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (www.NVAR.com). He served on the 2008 Strategic Planning Work Group, Information Management Committee and is a member of the 2008 Leadership Academy at Virginia Association of Realtors (www.VAREALTOR.com). He is also a member of the Board of Directors of National Association of Realtors (www.REALTOR.org) and serves on its Risk Management Committee.

Mr. Nguyen is also the President of the DC Metro Chapter of Asian Real Estate Association of America (www.AREAA.org), a non-profit trade organization which advocates for the removal of all barriers to homeownership for Asian Pacific Americans.

Vinh Nguyen currently lives in Fairfax with his wife and two children.


Voice of Vietnamese Americans had a special interview with Chairman Vinh Nguyen on December 8th, broadcasted by the Vietnamese American Broadcasting Station in Falls Church. Mr. Vinh Nguyen made some special remarks to our community:

A few points that I want to make:

1. It’s time that Vietnamese Americans get involved in the system, regardless of the profession. A feast is ready at the table. Yet, Vietnamese Americans do not come forward to the table to participate. We are loosing out to the mainstream and other ethnic groups.

2. By staying out of the system, we are alienating ourselves. We don’t know what is being served and since we don’t give input, people don’t serve what we want!

3. It’s encouraging that Vietnamese Americans are starting to make inroads into many fields such as political, business, education, etc., but this is still a very small fraction of our population.

4. Our community should devise a mechanism to encourage more young people to step up to the plate to serve our community.

Regarding the real estate profession:

1. We have been outsiders for too long!

2. We tend to have shorter term vision and not long ones! A rising tide lifts all boats!

3. Since we are a minority, when we speak, people tend to listen/our voice stands out.

4. Cultural diversity is hot now! Every organization embraces cultural diversity. Take advantage.

5. Think Leadership. As more Vietnamese Americans take leadership path, they can mobilize others to get engaged. They can create impacts: Both in mainstream matters and community specific.

6. The immediate result when you get involved: You inspired others to get involved! “ Mot canh tay dua len, hang ngay canh tay dua len”

7. Examples of the impact of my involvement.

Thank you Anh Vinh, for your leadership and your contribution to our community.


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