Born in Vietnam, Anh Ha Thi Ho spent 16 years in France as a child, where she received her elementary and secondary education. She returned to Vietnam with her family so that her father could for president and remained in Vietnam following the Vietnam War despite her family’s best efforts to leave the country and escape the oppressive regime there. During this time, she earned certification in teaching French as a second language and in literature and arts from the College of Literature and Arts in Vietnam. In 1983, Ms. Ho and her husband were sponsored by her brother, a Canadian citizen, to move to Canada and become permanent residents.
Ms. Ho stayed in Canada for the next two years before moving to the United States to join her husband, who had been hired by the University of Illinois in 1984. During these early years, she did work as a bilingual aide and attended yearly conferences in the field. In 1991, brought on by her own experiences as a refugee over the years, she joined the East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center and has cultivated considerable expertise in tutoring, refugee and immigrant outreach, furnishing apartments, and application reviews. Ms. Ho became a naturalized United States citizen in 2000 and, more recently, rose to the position of director of client services at the Refugee Center in 2018.
Attributing much of her success to her parents, who instilled in her a wonderful work ethic, Ms. Ho also cites her resilience, the effort she took to grow her self-confidence and assertiveness, and always trying to figure out what the answer to a problem is before acting on it. Her goal is always to provide lasting service with compassion and she hopes to promote the simple philosophy that everyone deserves the opportunity to prove themselves. Even outside of her primary responsibilities, Ms. Ho has done considerable work toward refugee and immigration advocacy and, since 2000, has been the president of the Vietnamese Association of Champaign-Urbana.
Ms. Ho has made a name for herself for her passion for refugee and immigration advocacy as well as for her continued motivation for her work. Finding motivation every day through getting to see her clients adjust, settle down and succeed in their new lives, she considers providing help and assistance to refugees, along with acting as a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves, to be among the highlights of her career. The greatest fulfillment, she feels, is getting to see her clients become citizens.
Born to father Co Huy Pham, who was a physician, and mother Tuyet Anh Tham, Ms. Ho has been married to her husband, Dang Dac Ho, for many happy years. Together they are the proud parents of three children, Anh Van Ho, Van Anh Heath and Yen Vi Green, and grandparents to six wonderful grandchildren. Her family also included her aunt, Tam Wei, who was an incredible source of inspiration to Ms. Ho over the course of her career.