The Honorable Janet Nguyen was overwhelmingly elected to the California State Senate in November 2014 to represent the residents of the 34th Senate District. She has lived in the district for 28 years and is a proud graduate of the local public school system.
As a first-generation American, Senator Nguyen is honored to give back to the country that has given her freedom and liberties not afforded to her by her country of origin. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Senator Janet Nguyen and her family escaped their homeland on a small wooden 10-meter boat sailing across the South Asia Sea in search of freedom. After passing through numerous refugee camps, Senator Nguyen and her family arrived in California in 1981.
Like many new immigrants, the Nguyen family struggled financially. At the age of 10, Senator Nguyen began cleaning houses to help pay for living expenses and school supplies. Her father worked at the local community college as a busboy while also taking ESL classes. Through hard work and by focusing on educational opportunities, the Nguyen family saved enough money and eventually moved to Orange County.
Senator Nguyen’s love for the United States compelled her to pursue a career in public service. She takes great pride in representing individuals of all backgrounds and her work has led to many firsts in state and national politics. She is the first Vietnamese-American in the country to be elected to a State’s Legislative Senate house and is currently the highest-ranking Vietnamese-American elected official in the State of California.
Prior to the California State Senate, Senator Nguyen was a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors from February 2007 to December 2014. There, Senator Nguyen was the first woman to represent the First Supervisorial District, the first Asian-American and the youngest Supervisor elected in Orange County history.
Senator Nguyen also previously served on the Garden Grove City Council where she was the first female Council Member elected in nearly 35 years and the first Asian American woman to serve on that council. In addition, she is the former Vice-President of Government and Public Affairs for the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and is a small business owner.
As a community servant, Senator Nguyen supports initiatives that bring much needed services directly to residents and which remove barriers of government bureaucracy. Every year, she proudly hosts various functions throughout her district, which include flagship events that assist thousands of seniors, children and families. For her legislative efforts on behalf of Veterans, she has received several awards, including: the 2017 ‘Legislator of the Year Award’ from the Association of the United States Army, the 2017 ‘Legislator of the Year Award’ from the Vietnam Veterans of America and the 2015 American Legion ‘Leo P. Burke Legislator of the Year Award’. Senator Nguyen has also been honored with the 2004 We Give Thanks Women of Vision Award, which recognizes outstanding women who have provided exceptional services to the community. Additionally, Senator Nguyen was named to the Class of 2008 Latino OC 100 for her work with the Latino community and was listed by the OC Register as one of the “30 Vietnamese-Americans to Watch.”
Senator Nguyen represents more than 925,000 residents in California’s 34th Senate District, which encompasses the Cities of Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Los Alamitos, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Westminster, the unincorporated communities of Midway City and Rossmoor and portions of Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Long Beach, and Orange.
Senator Nguyen currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Senate’s Health Committee, Vice-Chair of the Senate Governance and Finance Committee and member of the Human Services and Veterans Committees.
She is the first Republican Legislator to serve as Vice-Chair of the Joint Asian and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus and serves on the Governor’s Military Council and the State Allocation Board.
Senator Nguyen is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. She is also a graduate of the Aspen Institute Rodel Fellowship Program, a two-year invitation only program made up of the nation’s most promising young political leaders.
She resides in Fountain Valley with her husband Tom Bonikowski and their two elementary school-age sons.