RMIT Vietnam NewsCommunity development leader honoured by RMIT

Community development leader honoured by RMIT

Thursday, April 14, 2016 - 12:20
Thao Nguyen Griffiths (right) at the recent awards ceremony with RMIT Vice Chancellor and President, Martin Bean CBE.

Post-conflict community development expert Thao Nguyen Griffiths is one of RMIT’s Outstanding Alumni for 2016.

Griffiths is the Outstanding Alumni (International), while Indigenous education leader Professor Jeannie Herbert AM was awarded the Outstanding Alumnus Award (Australia).

The awards were recently presented at an exclusive ceremony hosted by RMIT’s Vice-Chancellor and President, Martin Bean CBE, at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Outstanding Alumnus Award (International) winner Griffiths completed a Master of Engineering (Systems Engineering) at RMIT in Australia and Vietnam in 2002.

As Country Director for the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, Griffiths manages programs addressing persistent post-conflict issues including Agent Orange contamination, unexploded ordnances and mental health issues.

“When I studied at RMIT, I used to take a 12-hour bumpy bus ride from my hometown in the mountainous region of Vietnam, in order to be in class,” she said.

“RMIT introduced me to another world, with different thinking.

“With a new sense of self and excitement about another world to explore, beyond my hometown Ha Giang, I have had the most rewarding career, working to help lessen the sufferings of the poor, those with disabilities, those affected by the tragedy of war.” 

Griffiths has studied international relations as a Fulbright Scholar at American University, Washington DC.

She also completed the Eisenhower Fellowship Program, travelling to nine states in the US to research civil-military collaboration and women in leadership.

The RMIT Outstanding Alumni Awards are an opportunity to reflect on the achievements and diversity of the University’s most accomplished graduates, paying tribute to alumni who have made a remarkable contribution to their industry, the community, and RMIT.

Herbert and Griffiths join previous alumni award winners: investigative journalist Nick McKenzie, Vietnam-based sales and marketing maverick Ngo Quoc Dung, founder of TOM Organic Aimee Marks, China-based sports marketing pioneer Priscilla Ho, fashion designer Toni Maticevski, Singaporean entrepreneur Ryan Lee, Bloom Cosmetics founder Natalie Bloom, award-winning artist Sam Leach, founder of Engineers Without Borders Daniel Almagor, CSIRO scientist Dr Amanda Barnard, and Olympic rower and business leader James Tomkins.

Story: Kate Stubbings