"500 Leaders in 5 Years" Initiative


500 in 5 Years:

Mobilizing Compassionate, Ethical,

Effective Vietnamese Leaders of the Future

Boat People SOS’ initiative to train Vietnamese American leaders in collaboration with Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics

Sponsored by Southwest Airlines


Music courtesy of Kevin MacLeod.


OBJECTIVE: Train 100 leaders per year, for 5 years.

“Leaders" are defined as individuals with the capability of finding solutions to social issues. Aspiring leaders in that category must develop the mind of a strategist, know how to marshal and grow resources, and build a self-perpetuating mechanism and infrastructure to sustain the efforts until fruition. Most leadership training programs generally train participants on skills and competencies of a tactical nature. Such skills and competencies are necessary to carry out tasks and implement programs but not sufficient to address systemic issues faced by the Vietnamese American community. The 500 in 5 Years: Mobilizing Compassionate, Ethical, Effective Vietnamese Leaders of the Future not only trains participants in skills and competencies, but, more importantly, also trains them in attitude, perspective, and way of thinking. It will be officially launched at BPSOS’ National Leadership Summit on July 2, 2011.


NEED: The Vietnamese American community came into existence at the end of the Vietnam War 35 years ago. This community of survivors has rebuilt their lives and many of their children have achieved astounding successes. The majority of the Vietnamese American community however live in isolation and are more fixated on Vietnam than on their own community in America. This community lacks organization and does not have a collective strategy to address systemic challenges and prepare for its own future. This project aims to train 500 leaders in the next five years to develop civil society and to create bridges to the mainstream for the Vietnamese American community.


APPROACH: 500 in 5 Years: Mobilizing Compassionate, Ethical, Effective Vietnamese Leaders of the Future will train future leaders to meet the various development and empowerment needs of the community, focusing on community organizing, political engagement, and economic development. Trainees will develop the mind of a strategist and acquire leadership competencies and skills. Each community will select their candidates and raise funds to finance the year-long training. As part of the training, each candidate will work on a community-focused project for the entire year and will report achievements to their sponsors and community members. A subgroup of trainees will work on building sustainability for this the initiative. In addition to the year-long training, participants will benefit from the social network of coaches—all successful leaders in their own fields of expertise—and of 500 peer leadership trainees. A pilot project will be deployed in the Gulf Coast in March 2011.



  • Develop the mind of a strategist

  • Develop competencies in managing resources and projects

  • Develop skills critical for success such as decision making, social networking, effective communication, conflict resolution, problem solving, negotiation, advocacy, etc.



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6066 Leesburg Pike, Suite 100
Falls Church, VA 22041
Attn: 500 in 5

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