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Amanda Nguyen in the Miller dickey jacket and Calista turtleneck, photographed by Willy Lukaitis

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#MAKEITHAPPEN

Amanda Nguyen, Civil Rights Activist & Founder of Rise

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To know your power and use it for the greater good—that's what makes things happen. This is the story of Amanda Nguyen, who, at just 30 years old, is shifting society with her work as a civil rights activist. In our chat with the social entrepreneur, CEO and, most recently, one of TIME magazine's Women of the Year, we learn that justice and joy are her driving passions and why it's important to speak up...

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But first, a little more about Nguyen herself. After her sexual assault in 2013 and subsequent frustration with the criminal system and its treatment of rape victims, Nguyen decided to take her case into her own hands. In 2014, she founded Rise, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the rights of sexual assault and rape survivors. And in 2016, she wrote the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act—it was signed into law by President Barack Obama and is the 21st bill in modern U.S. history to pass unanimously through Congress.

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Today, Nguyen continues her work with Rise—her efforts are now at the U.N., where she’s fighting to pass a resolution that would protect sexual assault survivors worldwide. Nguyen has also become a spokesperson for the AAPI community—particularly against the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes that have been taking place across the U.S. Here, we chat with the Nobel Peace Prize Nominee on everything from her fuel to what #MAKEITHAPPEN means to her.

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Q&A

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What are the driving passions that set you on your path?
Justice and joy.

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Tips to reclaiming your power?
The most powerful tool we have is our voice, so speak up!

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What does #MAKEITHAPPEN mean to you?
#MAKEITHAPPEN is about manifesting the power within us already.

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And who or what inspires you...
The strong women in my life.

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3 must-haves to make it happen?
1. Good food.
2. Good coffee.
3. Fire within your soul.

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And the wardrobe MVPs that help you make it happen?
A classic Veronica Beard blazer!

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Share one example of how you made it happen through adversity...
After my rape, I knew I had to change the law to be more fair towards survivors. I made the choice to write a law, it unanimously passed and now provides millions of survivors' rights.

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Tell us about the one thing or person who changed your life and POV?
My mother changed my life. She's a boat refugee from Vietnam and taught me that impossible is just an opinion.

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When in doubt, always remember...
No one is powerless when we come together.

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Advice to others to make it happen?
No one is invisible when we demand to be seen.

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#VBGIVESBACK and paying it forward is an integral part of who we are... How do you give back?
I'm grateful to be working every day with my teammates to fight for survivor rights across the world.

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shop the look

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“I love how versatile my outfit is. I can wear it in meetings and I can wear it with friends. In either setting I'll feel my best.”

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