Kristie Nguyen was unanimously appointed to the Isla Vista Community Services District in February 2019 to fill a vacancy left by Natalie Jordan — the first new appointment in the burgeoning local government’s short history. Nguyen served on the board for two years and stepped down at the end of 2020.
In 2019, then-second-year sociology major Nguyen ran against Jeremy Levine to be appointed through a vote from Isla Vista Community Services District (I.V. CSD) directors. Though Nguyen, a 2020 UCSB graduate, served the remainder of Jordan’s term, she chose not to run again.
During her tenure on the board, Nguyen did not introduce any agenda items or projects of her own. However, when running for the position, Nguyen cited womens’ rights, sexual assault, public safety, lighting deficiencies and a lack of parking as the issues most important to her. In addition, Nguyen juggled being a CSD director with internships, other jobs and being a student at UCSB.
Nguyen said that during her time on the board, she worked with the I.V. CSD Survivor Resource Center as part of her goal to address sexual assault in I.V. In addition, Nguyen shared her own experience with sexual assault in an open letter addressing “incidents of sexual assault [that] were reported at Sigma Pi Fraternity along with additional incidents at an unidentified fraternity involving date rape drugs,” in 2019.
“As a director on the board and as a survivor myself, I stand with survivors that must live with these traumatic memories for the rest of their lives,” Nguyen said in the letter. “I, along with the rest of the IVCSD board, are fully committed to protecting survivors and offering the resources to promote greater preventative measures.”
Nguyen counts using her platform as a board director to speak about sexual assault as her greatest success during her term.
“I was able to talk about my own story to tell survivors that they’re not alone … And that there is a representative that can relate to their constituents,” Nguyen said. “[That] was something that I felt was very successful to me and I think that it was very empowering not just for me, but I feel like it was very empowering for other women of color to just kind of read that statement and to know that they’re not alone in this fight.”
Spencer Brandt, I.V. CSD board president and director, and Ethan Bertrand, I.V. CSD board director, commended Nguyen for her bravery in sharing her own story as a survivor.
“[Kristie] told her story in that advocacy, coming out and identifying and standing in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault. And that was courageous, and that was the true face of leadership,” Bertrand said.
In terms of public safety projects, Nguyen began working alongside her fellow board members on an alternative festival to Deltopia in 2019, but time constraints and contract negotiation issues within the proposal ultimately led the I.V. CSD to postpone these plans until 2021.
Nguyen scouted for areas that needed better lighting in Isla Vista with a few fellow board members and Santa Barbara’s Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann in winter quarter of 2019 to look.
“We all walked together through I.V., looking for spaces that didn’t have sufficient lighting because that is a huge public safety issue that we spoke about,” Nguyen said.
According to Brandt, Nguyen’s assistance helped procure better street lighting for I.V.
“Even at times when others — often those who don’t live here — questioned why IV residents would want more street lighting, she stood strong and shared the student perspective with decision makers. Her advocacy helped secure 36 additional street lights that were installed at the beginning of 2020,” Brandt said in a statement to the Nexus.
Although Nguyen said she wished to work on improving parking within I.V. — though she didn’t specify how — the issue remains contentious and unsolved in I.V. and within the CSD.
Looking back on her term, Nguyen wished she was able to better communicate with all directors.
“I wish I could have worked on just communicating with all of the directors, being able to talk to them exclusively,” Nguyen said, noting her close relationships with Bertrand and Brandt, the two directors closest to her in age. “I was friendly with the other directors, but I was never able to sit down and have coffee with them and talk to them … even though we were all friendly, I wish that I could have talked to them more.”
Towards the end of Nguyen’s term, she was unable to attend some I.V. CSD meetings. Nguyen cited personal losses due to the pandemic as the reason.
“[There were] just a lot of losses and devastating things that happened in my life that I know a lot of other people can relate to, especially during the pandemic … a lot of losses, a lot of sicknesses, a lot of friends and family going away whether that be passed away or relationships just ending,” Nguyen said.
Brandt commended Nguyen — the first woman of color on the board and the only woman at all during her entire term — for her “valuable perspective on a number of important issues, including policing, sexual violence, and safety.”
“It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve with Director Nguyen,” Brandt said in a statement to the Nexus. “I will miss her as a colleague and I am grateful for her friendship.”