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Polis Distinguished Fellows: Minh-Thu Pham

Minh-Thu Pham Banner

“As we near our 250th birthday, the American experiment seems to be at a crossroads. Our politics are deeply divided at a time when national and global crises place even greater demands on our ability to come together to devise solutions. Mistrust, polarization, and tribalism pose threats to an egalitarian and pluralist democracy. But the fact remains that people everywhere want to belong and to have agency — they want to be seen and for their views to matter. Our challenge is to build a society that enables that, based on truth and trust, for people now and for generations to come.”

– Minh-Thu Pham

About Minh-Thu Pham

Minh-Thu Pham is a political and policy entrepreneur, working to address polarization and strengthen democracy. She develops efforts on immigrant voters, women’s political power, trust and disinformation, climate change and development, and international institutions. She is also Lecturer at Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs.

During the 2020 election, she co-founded New American Voices to mobilize Asian American voters in swing states, and she was a volunteer adviser on the foreign policy teams of Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden. Previously, Minh-Thu spent 15 years at the United Nations as a strategic advisor to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and in senior roles at the UN Foundation. She was the lead UN staffer on US-UN relations after the Iraq War exposed deep divisions in global cooperation, where she helped manage the UN’s response, including to multiple Congressional investigations, and devised and executed UN-wide reforms. Minh-Thu ran diplomatic efforts that brought together ambassadors, UN officials, top experts and global activists to create and deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of targets for ending extreme poverty, tackling climate change, and reducing global inequality by 2030. And she helped the UN improve financing, data, and accountability as well as making its policy processes more inclusive. She has advised the High Representative in Bosnia on implementing the Dayton Peace Agreement and managed programs to deliver global health and advance refugee and humanitarian causes in Ethiopia, India, Vietnam and Washington, DC.

Minh-Thu has been featured in The Washington Post, NBC Nightly News, Tavis Smiley Show, Cheddar TV, Politico, The New York Times, and the Raleigh News & Observer. She teaches global policymaking, UN diplomacy, and sustainable development to students at Princeton, Seton Hall School of Diplomacy, Duke, NYU, Wellesley, and other institutions. She holds a Master in Public Affairs from Princeton and Bachelor of Arts from Duke.

She is a member of the Leadership Now Project, the Truman National Security Project, on the board of PIVOT, a Vietnamese-American organization. She also serves on the advisory boards for the Gigatonne Challenge to address climate change, Fix Our House on Congressional representation, and the AAPI Victory Alliance. She is a proud former Vietnamese refugee who grew up in Tennessee and North Carolina and now resides in New York City.