VAI Staff

Paul Luu

Chief Executive Officer

As the Chief Executive Officer, Paul is a nonprofit advocate who is committed to building the capacity of the Vietnamese Association of Illinois (VAI). Paul works to strengthen the organization’s resource and development, board governance and development, and strategic planning to better serve the Uptown/Edgewater community and greater Chicagoland area. Paul brings a diverse range of approaches to VAI, drawing from 15 years of nonprofit management, organizational practices and trainings, and nonprofit best practices. He is truly humble to serve those who need us most.

Francis C. Khuc

Adjustment Program Manager / Editor, NVI Magazine

Mr. Francis C. Khuc, a twenty-year employee of VAI, is the project coordinator for our Adjustment and Citizenship Program. Francis earned a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Letters in Saigon, and served in the Republic armed forces. His last rank was Major; he also served as a battalion Commander. In 1967, he was sent to the Defense Languages Institute in San Antonio, TX to improve his English. He graduated from the US Armor School in Ft. Knox, KY in 1968. Like so many Vietnamese refugees, after the fall of Saigon, he was detained in a re-education camp for 11 years. VAI’s Adjustment Program, which serves as a catch-all provider of information, translation, interpretation, mediation, and counseling services, has given Francis broad experience and expertise in a variety of areas from welfare to immigration. Francis is also the Editor-in-Chief of the VAI monthly magazine.

Shara Chau

Office Manager

Dung V. Nguyen

CCP Coordinator

As a jet fighter pilot (A-37) during the Vietnam War, Mr.Dung graduated from The Squadron Officer School, Air University, Montgomery, Alabama, in 1972. He has worked for Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, The Chinese Mutual Aid Association prior to working for The Vietnamese Association of Illinois since October/1975. He has been in charge of the VAI/CCP program since July 2003. He volunteers in many community activities (The Vietnamese Seniors Association of Chicago, The Vietnamese Veterans Association of Illinois, and The Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 242). He enjoys playing tennis, reading books, and watching TV.

Van Duong

CCP Coordinator

As CCP Coordinator Van, organizes and oversees VAI staff to provide quality care to elderly clients. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems from DePaul University. She enjoys traveling and helping her community.

Ms. Lydia Byrn

Health Program Coordinator

Lydia Byrne is a recent graduate of DePaul University’s undergraduate School of Health Science, studying Public Health.
As the Health Program Intern, Ms. Byrne assists Dr. Gerry Fernandez in an ongoing assessment of the health needs of the VAI community. In response, the Health Program works to provide with health services and information

Gerardo M. Fernandez

Health Program Intern

Gerardo M. Fernandez is a public health professional with over 20 years of experience predominantly in community development, with a focus on the intersection of gender-dynamics and health. Gerry began his career with a focus on reproductive health, and, for the last ten years, has worked in community health with an emphasis on women’s and family health in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In March 2014, Gerry completed his Doctorate in Health Sciences from A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Health Sciences, with research on the public health impact and effectiveness of Violence Against Women interventions. Aside from his professional passions, Gerry is also a life-long student of martial arts and looks forward to continuing his training here in Chicago.

Jalal Belsifar

Adult Education Coordinator

Jalal Belsifar received his Bachelor of Arts in French and Francophone Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago and participated in the Linguistic Abroad Program in Spain and China. He is currently the Adult Program Manager at Vietnamese Association of Illinois where he oversees the EL (English Language) Civics, Computer Class, and Citizenship programs. In addition, he is an Employment Coordinator at VAI. He can be contacted at

Caheri Aguilar

ESL Program and Volunteer Coordinator

Caheri Aguilar is a DePaul University graduate with a B.A. in Political Science and Italian, and a Master’s degree in International Studies, who first became involved with VAI in 2012. She loves learning about different cultures and new languages. As an ESL tutor she was exposed to both. When she is not working, she’s usually volunteering at a film festival or attending various cultural events throughout the city.

Sara Alhasan

CCP Case Manager

As a CCP Coordinator Sara, organizes and supervises VAI homemakers to provide help and care to the elderly clients. She holds a Bachelor and Master degree of Science in Biotechnology from Alnahrain University/Baghdad. After her graduation she worked as a Biotechnologist in Health Laboratories and Research Centers.

Demi Le

Youth Program Assistant

Hung Le

Office Assistant

Kim Nguyen

Office Assistant

Nga Phan

Office Assistant

Tran Cau

Senior Aid

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