Diem is an educator and has taught and conducted research in the areas of urban education, immigrant and refugee children’s education, and equity over the past 15 years. She has also worked on grants and program development related to rural literacy, health, and clean water in Southeast Asia. In all of her work, whether in the U.S. or overseas, Diem is committed to the idea of supporting and investing in local leaders, families, and communities to bring about change. She believes strongly in the intersection of education and community as a space of great possibility and change. Her own story and life experiences reflect this belief.
Diem was born in Vietnam and arrived in the U.S. with her family as refugees in the late 1970s. Her family’s experiences of fleeing a war torn country, living in refugee camp, and rebuilding a life in a new country have informed much of decision to focus her professional work on education and community development. In college, Diem became involved with student organizing, specifically on efforts to build stronger alliances across different student communities for social change. This work across difference was not without challenge, but it was often in those difficult and uncomfortable spaces where people remained committed to each other that new ideas and possibilities emerged. In those early years of student organizing, Diem learned that the work of leadership and community transformation requires tremendous self-reflection, patience, openness, and compassion. Her research, teaching, and community involvement remain grounded in the belief that lasting change has to involve local leaders and community input and ideas.
Diem earned her Ph.D. in multicultural education and immigrant and refugee children’s education from the University of Washington, her M.A. in education from Harvard University, and her B.A. in East Asian Studies and economics from Oberlin College. Diem is very excited for the opportunity to serve on the iLEAP Board and looks forward to learning from and connecting with the iLEAP community. She lives in Seattle with her husband, Genji, and their son, Dylan.