Arriving in the United States in 1979 as a boat refugee from Vietnam, Dr. Thang graduated from Virginia Tech with a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and worked for 13 years at a research lab in Bethesda, Maryland. He joined BPSOS in 1988 as a volunteer. In 1995 he launched an advocacy campaign that resulted in the resettlement of over 18,000 former boat people from Vietnam to the US. In 1997 Dr. Thang initiated a long-term effort to build capacity for the Vietnamese American community. He has since built BPSOS from a small, all-volunteer organization into the largest Vietnamese-American non-profit organization with operations in a dozen locations in the United States and in three Asian countries and a vast Vietnamese-language mass media network. Simultaneously he has mentored or incubated over 50 faith-based and community organizations and secured $4 million to support their good work.
For the past two decades he has launched many national and international initiatives, including among others Legal Assistance for Vietnamese Asylum Seekers (LAVAS) to provide legal aid to the boat people in first asylum camps, Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia (CAMSA) to combat labor trafficking, the Vietnamese American National Chamber of Commerce (VietAmCham) to support small businesses, and the Renewing Democracy Fund to encourage Vietnamese-American participation in American politics. For the past 20 years he has mentored and trained many younger Vietnamese American leaders. Starting in 2010 he has rallied Vietnamese-American leaders across the country for a ten-year initiative to advance the Vietnamese American community in the government, business and social sectors. He has received numerous awards for his contributions to America, refugee populations, and human rights the world over. On International Human Rights Day of 2011, he represented BPSOS to accept the Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award presented by the President and the Speaker of Parliament of the Republic of China. In 2012 Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP) recognized him with its leadership award.