Introducing our incoming CEO, Hang Vo

12 September 2022
Hang Vo, Sacred Heart Mission's new CEO

Sacred Heart Mission is delighted to announce the appointment of Hang Vo as CEO. Hang will take up the appointment starting in December and is looking forward to working closely with the Board, staff, volunteers and supporters.

Hang has over 25 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector leading complex national and international programs.

For the past four years Hang has been CEO of Whitelion Youth, a national organisation devoted to supporting youth who are experiencing isolation and unemployment.

Prior to this, Hang was the Director for Strategy, Planning and Development at EACH a health and community services organisation providing a range of health, disability, counselling and mental health services across Australia.

She also held leadership roles at Australian Red Cross including overseas deployments, refugee services, strategy and governance.

Q&A with the new CEO

You have worked in the not-for-profit sector for nearly three decades. What attracted you to the work of Sacred Heart Mission?

There are so many reasons! The values and unique of approach of the organisation. I love the deep commitment to inclusion and social justice. The focus on homelessness and housing and the dual solution of service delivery and systemic change. Changing individual lives and the world.

The timing and context also present exciting opportunities – building on the incredible legacy that Cathy and so many have created and forging a new future.

Your passion for social justice stems from your personal history. Can you tell us more about how this has shaped your life and career?

I was seven years old when I came to Australia with my family as part of the first wave of Vietnamese ‘boat people’ seeking asylum. Along with my four siblings, we grew up in the south-east where I completed primary and secondary schooling. Over 90 per cent of the kids I grew up with also came to Australia as refugees and migrants.

Our school was classified as disadvantaged, but we didn’t think that. It was ‘normal’ to speak a second language at home, have parents who worked seven days a week to make ends meet, be the interpreter at teacher-parent interviews because mum and dad didn’t know enough English, apply for fee waivers otherwise we’d miss out on activities. I thought our lives were normal until I got to uni.

As a young adult, I began to experience a very different world. One that only got harder as I entered the working world. I began to understand that where you are born, what school you attended, the postcode you were raised in, the colour of your skin, your gender and sexuality all mattered.

It became obvious that people in positions of power didn’t look like me. I was trying to navigate a world where systemic discrimination and structural inequities means you must become good at fitting in which can at times mean hiding your true self. These experiences have shaped my commitment to inclusion, representation, social justice and equity. I am grateful to have amazing mentors and found a career that enables me to contribute to a more just society.

Are you a keen op shopper, and if so what has been your favourite op shop find?

I’m a terrible shopper! That said, I’m proud of my best (and rare) op shop find – a 1940s gangster outfit for a dress up – white tie, black vest and short brim black hat. What I love about op shops is their contribution to reducing waste, providing volunteering and work opportunities and proceeds are reinvested into social causes.

What are you most looking forward to about joining the Sacred Heart Mission family?

Meeting staff, volunteers, clients and supporters and learning about the ‘magic’ that makes Sacred Heart Mission such an iconic brand. Working together to find new solutions and innovations to deepen our impact.