Bee Nguyen became the first Vietnamese-American to win a state House seat in Georgia when she won a closely contested runoff in a December 2017 special election in DeKalb County. Bee, a nonprofit founder, defeated Sachin Varghese, an attorney, to become the new representative for House District 89, a seat vacated when former House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams decided to make her bid for governor.
The district includes Cedar Grove, Druid Hills, East Atlanta, Edgewood, Gresham Park and Kirkwood.
Bee was born to a father working as an orderly at a mental institution making minimum wage — $3.35 an hour in 1981. At night, he studied in their basement apartment and used a cardboard box as his desk. He believed education was the only way to escape poverty. Bee earned a Master of Arts with a concentration in English Literature from Georgia State University when she was 23.
“At age 25, my dad was imprisoned by his own country. At age 28, he escaped Vietnam via boat. At age 30, he graduated from engineering school. At my age, 37, he had four daughters.
I will never be as courageous, or accomplished as my father, but I will honor his legacy every day of my life. This will certainly be reflected as I begin my first full term as the representative for Georgia House District 89,” she said on the day she was sworn in as a representative.
Bee’s mother raised five independent daughters, instilling in all of them a desire to serve the community and stand for what is just. “She took us to church every Sunday and made sure we always gave back to the community,” she said.
Bee says her family inspired her to start her own nonprofit, Athena’s Warehouse, to educate and empower girls in under-resourced schools. Bee gave up the job security, including health insurance, because she believed advocacy for youth was an investment for all Georgia families. Bee worked tirelessly because she believes health insurance, livable wages, and quality education should not be bargaining chips for any person.
In 2016, Bee served as campaign manager for State Representative Sam Park, helping to defeat a three-term Republican incumbent and electing the first openly gay, Asian-American man to the Georgia General Assembly.
Bee, a member of the Atlanta Regional Commission, also served on the host committee for the national Facing Race conference, where she helped curate a bus tour, Atlanta: A Tale of Two Cities. Bee worked with high school teachers and undocumented students to put together a public art exhibition on Buford Highway highlighting the importance of cultural identity.
As a 2015 fellow with the Georgia Women’s Policy Institute, Bee lobbied to pass the Pursuing Justice for Rape Victims Act. Since its passage, thousands of untested rape kits have been tested and DNA matches have been made in CODIS. In 2015, Gov. Deal issued an executive order to block the entrance of Syrian refugees to our state. Bee worked with New American Pathways and former Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry to resettle a family of nine, who now live in Clarkston, Georgia. She is now the national policy advisor for New American Leaders, an organization that empowers 1st and 2nd generation Americans to run for office.
Bee’s background, including her extensive community leadership and political experience are an asset to the Legislature. Having spent the last decade of her life advocating for women and girls, communities of color, and refugee families, Bee believes every voice matters and pledges to continue fighting for underrepresented Georgians at our Capitol.