Lan Diep

  • Hosted by Mississippi Center for Justice
  • Service location Biloxi, Mississippi
  • Law school University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law
  • Issue area Community/Economic Development
  • Fellowship class year 2011
  • Program AmeriCorps Fellows Program

The Project

In the aftermath of the BP Oil Disaster in 2010, Lan Diep moved to Biloxi, Mississippi to serve as an Equal Justice Works/AmeriCorps legal fellow at the Mississippi Center for Justice, where he provided assistance to fishermen, small business owners, and other victims looking to file claims against BP. Fluent in Vietnamese, he particularly focused his efforts on aiding the limited-English-proficient Vietnamese American community in the Gulf, who account for over a third of the fishing industry in the area. Lan’s project included outreach and education efforts into the Gulf communities at large and particularly the Vietnamese American community.  In his second year, Lan focused on creating a lasting impact beyond his Fellowship term. Lan worked to ensure that as many documents as possible are translated in to Vietnamese and educate the community as to their rights and to ensure that they know a denial from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility is not the end of the road.

What’s Next

After two years of public service in the Gulf, Lan Diep returned to San José and took a job with the Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center, directing the Vietnamese American Workers’ Rights Project, where he again used his Vietnamese language skills to help disenfranchised Vietnamese Americans learn about and pursue their rights, this time in the context of employment law. In this role, Lan Diep helped improve the condition of low-income workers while simultaneously combating the anticompetitive business practices of unethical employers. Lan ran for San José city council in in 2016 and won. Since taking office, he has worked to build a stronger San José and a more inclusive city by focusing on economic development, building affordable housing, improving transportation options, and smart land use.

Lan Diep’s record of service has won national recognition. The Huffington Post hailed him as the Greatest Person of the Day for April 27, 2011; President Barack Obama deemed him a White House Champion of Change in 2011; and President George H. W. Bush selected him as a Daily Point of Light awardee in 2012. Most recently, he was featured in the Washington Post, CNN, Upworthy, and Nerdist.


A comic book nerd won a city council seat — and was sworn in holding his Captain America shield

The man behind the shield: San Jose Councilman Lan Diep

My Impact: A Conversation with 2011 Equal Justice Works Fellow Lan Diep

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