San José City Councilmember Lan Diep graduated from the University of California, San Diego in 2005 with dual bachelor degrees in Political Science/International Relations and History, with a focus on war, revolution, and social change. He obtained his law degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law and is licensed to practice in California, Mississippi, Texas, and the District of Columbia.
In the aftermath of the BP Oil Disaster in 2010, 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 one third of the fishing industry in the area.
After two years of public service in the Gulf, 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, Diep helped improve the condition of low-income workers while simultaneously combating the anticompetitive business practices of unethical employers.
Diep first ran for San José city council in a 2015 special election but lost by 13 votes. He ran again in 2016 and won by 12 votes. 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.