About Us


The Vietnamese American Cultural Alliance

The Vietnamese American Cultural Alliance (VACA) is a non-profit organization with the mission of promoting awareness and increasing Vietnamese American culture through arts and education. VACA was initially established to facilitate the Courage to Rebuild project with the purpose of carrying out future projects that will also inspire and enrich future generations of Vietnamese-Americans.


The Courage to Rebuild Project

Courage to rebuild project management and coordination is being directed by Erik Qvale. Since 2001, Erik has administered percent for art requirements for public art programs such as the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department Public Works Improvement Project and Arts Development Fee Program, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Metro Art Program, the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency Cultural Arts Program, and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission Civic Art Program. Previously he worked in museums and galleries in Los Angeles and New York. He has a degree in Art History from the University of California Santa Barbara, and a Masters of Public Art Studies from the University of Southern California.


Project Selection Committee

Jonathan Burke

Jonathan Burke is currently president of the Laguna College of Art & Design in Laguna Beach, California, a dual accredited, degree-granting college focusing on drawing, painting and sculpture, graphic design, game art, illustration, and feature animation. From 1985 to 2011 he was the dean of fine arts and gallery director at LCAD. In addition he taught freshman through graduate levels in fine arts and continued an exhibition career. While gallery director he brought a Rodin figure sculpture exhibition to the college gallery.

Jonathan’s background is in representational drawing and painting with still life and landscape as his main emphasis. He holds B.F.A. degree in painting from Kansas City Art Institute and M.F.A. degree in painting from Boston University. He was dean of visual communication at LCAD from 2000 to 2002. He art has been published in “Horses” – From Noble Steeds to Beasts of Burden”, Watson Guptil NY pp.330, 2000, “Cats – Wild Cats and pampered Pets”, Watson Guptil NY pp. 32-33, 68, 172, 1999 and “New Art”, Harry Abrams Publisher, New York, NY pp. 45-46 illustrated, 1984.

Alicia Jao

Alicia Jao is currently the Executive Director of the Vietnamese American Cultural Alliance and serves on the board of a charter elementary school in Pasadena. She is a second generation Vietnamese immigrant, who grew up in Westminster (“Little Saigon”), California.

Alicia received her MBA from Stanford University and her undergraduate degree from the University of Southern California. Previously, she co-founded Playful Labs, Inc., where she developed a social review site for parents. She also was Vice President at NerdWallet, a personal finance startup in San Francisco, and spent several years as an investment professional at Tenaya Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm investing in technology startups.

Hue Nguyen

Artist Hue Nguyen was born in 1941 in Ben Tre, Vietnam. He was a student of the National School of Decorative Arts in Gia Dinh, Saigon. He came to the United States in 1975, where he lived in Kansas for two years and was a member of the Greater Kansas City Art Association. He won the second prize for his oil painting at the 1977 Art Exhibition. He was also a member of CMAL from 1987 to 1990.

Besides his individual exhibitions throughout the years, Hue Nguyen has participated in numerous art exhibitions that benefited various charities. His most recent art exhibition was held in 2013 and all the proceeds from his art were donated to his favorite charity, Smile Train. His expressions are found especially in the painting of labor activities, nature, and women.

Hue Nguyen lives in Westminster with his family. Artist and designer, Hue Nguyen has been an employee of Hoffman California Fabrics for thirty-five years.

Ann Phong

Ann Phong received her MFA in painting from California State University, Fullerton in 1995, and has actively participated in more than 80 solo and group shows in galleries and museums, and her work has been widely exhibited in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, Houston, Vancouver, Paris, Thailand, Korea and Japan.

Ann currently teaches art at California State University, Pomona. Ann also serves as the president of VAALA (Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association), a nonprofit organization to promote Vietnamese American artists who live outside Vietnam

Since 2007, she has been invited by the College Board of Education as one of the readers to score AP Studio Art for high school students’ art portfolios. She has also been invited to speak at many high schools, colleges, universities, galleries and museums on the subject of her own work and the work of other Vietnamese American artists.

Richard Turner

Artist/curator Richard Turner is a Professor Emeritus at Chapman University where he taught contemporary Asian art history and studio art. He lived in Saigon, Vietnam from 1959 -1961. He studied Chinese painting and language in Taipei in 1963-1964 and Indian miniature painting in Jaipur, Rajasthan in 1967 -1968 while on a Fulbright scholarship.

As Director of Chapman University’s Guggenheim Gallery, he curated over seventy exhibitions. He has worked as a public artist for over three decades. Current projects include a memorial to the Japanese American farmers in Orange County and Petraphilia: The Love of Stones, an exhibition of contemporary artwork and viewing stones that he has curated. His studio work, public art and curatorial projects can be viewed on his website www.turnerprojects.com.


Project Partners

UCI's Vietnamese American Oral History Project Asian Garden Mall