• Environmental justice advocate

  • Anti-racism advocate

  • Daughter of Vietnamese refugees

  • Grew up on University Avenue

  • Has lived in St. Paul her entire life (Hamline Midway, North End and Rondo/ Summit-University)

  • Proud Saint Paul Public Schools alum

  • University of Minnesota graduate

  • From a family of fourteen

  • Lives in the North End community with her husband and 1 year old daughter

  • Enjoys traveling to domestic and international destinations to learn about culture and food

  • Serves as a public servant managing waste reduction programs and advocating for environmental justice

  • Appointed to advisory boards with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Department of Health





I am the daughter of refugees. My father served in the Vietnam War and fought alongside American soldiers. Immediately after the war, my parents and siblings fled to America and settled in Minnesota. Adjusting to a new place was difficult for my family. There were many barriers and challenges faced from not knowing the language, not feeling welcomed, experiencing racism and not having access to as many opportunities. As a working poor family, my parents used the little money they had to spread it out to 12 children.

My parents wanted us to succeed, so much at whatever cost to them; they sacrificed by working basic jobs to support my family. My mother Dianna Bui Thi Dong worked for a food factory while trying to learn English, while practicing to get her license to drive and caring for 12 children. My father Winston Tuan Nguyen took on various jobs as a maintenance person, English as a Second language teacher, and a bus driver. My parents knew the value of connection and community, they still made time to help people with citizenship test, applying for jobs, getting people prepared for their new job by providing clothes and driving them to work, serving as a notary public and interpreting for the Vietnamese community. Even though we didn’t have financial wealth, we knew to pay attention to a different kind of wealth, the gifts that people have inside of them. My parents taught me the value of working hard, fighting for what’s right and to do what I can to improve the quality of my life for myself and others.

Ramsey County has a budget of $700 million dollars. The Ramsey County Board is the conduit to individuals and families. They are the entity in which prioritize funding and delivers programs and services throughout the county. Some programs and services include: mental health, youth and senior programs and managing our bridges and roads. My family have utilized a range of county services from food assistance, disability services and the Women Infant Children (WIC) program to ensure our family have the support to stay afloat. The people most impacted by the county are the people who should co-govern the county board. I am running because the County board needs a person who have lived experienced as a recipient of county services. I’m committed to breaking down barriers similar to what my parents and siblings experienced while assimilating to Minnesota. I am committed to building healthy communities and equitable systems that benefit all residents in District 3, while being honest about the disparities and cycle of poverty that are real for many of our residents. I will lead by working for equity and fairness in county policies, programs, and services.

Image on left: Jennifer's mother and siblings in Vietnam

Image on right: Jennifer's family arriving to the United States after fleeing Vietnam


My roots and home are Saint Paul. My family lived in the Hamline Midway and Rondo/Summit-University neighborhoods for four generations. My parents have lived on University Avenue for 30 years. Our little family, my husband and 1 year old daughter, currently reside in the North End neighborhood; we have called this community our home for nine years. We intentionally settled in this neighborhood because of its richness in socio-economic diversity and community, and its access to many ethnic restaurants, stores and community spaces. I am a proud Saint Paul Public Schools alum. The amazing teachers and mentors from Saint Anthony Park Elementary, Ramsey Junior High and Central High School have taught me great lessons. I have learned how to become a compassionate person, to be an advocate for those who are less fortunate and to protect our natural resources. At the University of Minnesota, I received a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Policy and Social Justice. I pursued leadership roles with the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group and participated in the Community Engagement Scholars Program. These experiences in college motivated me to fight for equity and amplify voices within our community.

Image to left: Jennifer's family and friends at a gathering. Her sisters are wearing traditional Vietnamese clothing, ao dai

Image to right: Jennifer with her sister My at Como Park Conservatory


Professionally, I serve as a public servant advocating, educating and advising on environmental justice and creating equitable programs and services. Throughout my career, I have worked to ensure all residents, particularly communities of color and residents from traditionally marginalized communities, have access to resources to be environmental stewards. As a solid waste and recycling coordinator, I have seen that reducing waste is often not their primary concern, instead needing to focus on paying rent or navigating systems that have a more direct impact on their daily life. However the methods in which solid waste is managed has the potential to poison our bodies with contaminated water and emit toxins in the atmosphere. Education and advocacy is key to connect waste reduction to its impact in creating healthy communities.

Currently I serve on two appointed advisory boards for the state: the Environmental Justice Advisory Group with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Health Equity Advisory Leadership Council with the Minnesota Department of Health. Both ensure the environment is protected by the policies and programs initiated by each agency along with identifying and reducing disparities that impact dis-invested communities and ensuring we live in healthy communities.

Image to the left: Jennifer and her family, Kendric and Luna in front of the Como Park Conservatory

Image in the center: Forest of trees

Image to the right: Jennifer in Frogtown, in front of community mural

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