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Thymai Dong, Ph.D Selected as New Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

May 3, 2022

Hippo Nation welcomes Thymai Dong, Ph.D, as the new Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

"I look forward to working with her, the ERI Task Force, and district leaders to launch this new role in Hutto ISD," said Superintendent Celina, Estrada Thomas, Ph.D. 

Dr. Dong comes to Hutto ISD with more than 20 years of experience working in public education. She began her career as a French and Spanish teacher at Paredes Middle School in the Austin Independent School District. She transitioned to teaching high school by helping to open Vista Ridge High School in the Leander Independent School District. 

In 2010, Dong returned to Austin ISD as the World Languages Coordinator. She also worked in the Office of Educator Quality where she helped launch the Leadership Pathways for Teachers program as part of the district’s Professional Pathways for Teachers appraisal and compensation system in conjunction with leads from various departments such as literacy, technology, social/emotional learning, and advanced academics. 

Dong spent the last two-and-a-half years in the education non-profit sector working as the Director of Community Solutions at E3 Alliance. She was responsible for leading three cradle to career initiatives where she collaborated with districts and higher education institutions across Central Texas. The collective impact work she led was rooted in the use of data and collaboration to build more equitable math pathways, to decrease chronic absenteeism, and to promote a school climate that values the assets of emergent bilingual students.

Dong obtained two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and her master’s degree from the University of California in Santa Barbara. She completed her doctoral studies at Texas State University where she was conferred a Ph.D. in Adult, Professional, and Community Education in 2020.

As a refugee from war-torn Vietnam who immigrated to the United States when she was only two-and-a-half years old, education has always been a priority. Made conscious of her racialized identity at a young age, she was a champion for equity even when she did not know how to name it. Personally and professionally, Dong’s passion for equity work grew steadfastly as she came to understand the need for both youth and adults to lean into empathy and compassion in a world that seems to be increasingly socially fragmented. Her research focused on leveraging vulnerability to increase human interconnectedness in cross-racial relationships.

Dong says she has always been driven by the belief that every individual deserves to live as fully human and she is thrilled at the opportunity to work as the Director of DEI where she hopes to make a difference in the lives of Hutto ISD students, families, and staff.