P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Matt K. Nguyen, 2017

JD, Yale University

Matt is the child of refugees from Vietnam

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a JD at Yale University

Matt’s parents fled Vietnam as child refugees at the height of the Vietnam War. Arriving in America with pennies to their name, they lived in resettlement camps before making California their home. Through their own perseverance and the support of social programs that gave them the opportunity to succeed, Matt’s parents built a better life for themselves and their families.

Given his family’s refugee background, Matt’s dedication to civil rights, racial justice, and the rule of law grounds his legal and policy advocacy.  Today, he serves as a U.S. Army Reserve Captain Judge Advocate specializing in national security and administrative law.  In his civilian capacity, Matt represents innovative clients in high-stakes disputes with a focus on government investigations and enforcement and appellate advocacy in courts of last resort. His recent representations have led to landmark rulings by the California Supreme Court, which reinforced whistleblower protections for over 110,000 California charities; and the Michigan Supreme Court, which expanded constitutional rights for late adolescents based on modern brain science.

During the 2020 election cycle, Matt counseled President Joe Biden’s campaign and transition and Speaker Nancy Pelosi on extraordinary constitutional issues concerning the incumbent’s efforts to prevent the peaceful transition of power; on safeguarding voting rights for communities of color; and on vetting prospective White House and Cabinet officials. Following the 2018 election, Matt oversaw a volunteer healthcare policy team to support Governor Gavin Newsom’s transition; and after the 2016 election, he worked to protect DACA recipients as part of then-Senator Kamala Harris’s transition. Matt also previously clerked for California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu and served as an assistant press secretary to Governor Jerry Brown.

After graduating salutatorian from UC Berkeley, Matt earned his J.D. from Yale Law School as a PD Soros Fellow, Coker Fellow for torts and legal writing, notes editor of the Yale Law Journal, managing editor of the Yale Law & Policy Review, a founding member of the We Care Coalition and Immigration Policy Tracking Project, and director of the Education Adequacy Project Clinic. In 2020, he was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 for Law & Policy. During his free time, Matt enjoys global travel, snowboarding, volleyball, golfing, and exploring with his Shiba Inu.

  • Matthew Nguyen GIF
  • JD | Yale University 2019
  • BA | University of California, Berkeley 2015
  • CAFE 100 Changemaker | U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara
  • Diversity and Inclusion Scholar | Arnold & Porter LLP
  • California Executive Fellow | Office of Governor Jerry Brown
  • Salutatorian (University Medal Finalist) | UC Berkeley
  • Distinguished Service Recognition | US Mission to the European Union
  • Elected as a Junior | Phi Beta Kappa
  • Eagle Scout | Boy Scouts of America, Troop 319
  • Captain | U.S. Army Reserve
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