Michael Tran, a San Franciscan and Child of Refugees, Knew This was the Job for Him

Michael Tran early on knew he wanted to take a job in public service, especially with the City and County of San Francisco.

A child of Vietnam refugees, Tran was born and raised in San Francisco and attended George Washington High School. Through the years, he has seen the City change, but some things are still the same – the resilience of its residents. “San Francisco’s diversity seems to be more blended rather than siloed as it was when I was growing up,” Tran reflected. “For example, neighborhood schools got kids to travel to different neighborhoods.”

“I wanted to work for the city that I was born and raised in, so I always wanted to stay and help make it a better place to live,” he shared. “I decided to study and pursue a career in civil engineering because of my interest in construction and bettering society by taking on the lesser known challenges of infrastructure construction.” He believed that the SFPUC’s services to the City and Bay Area had very direct and recognizable impacts, especially as a critical utility. So, when an opportunity was offered to him at the SFPUC, it was an easy decision to take the job.

Tran is an acting section manager for the Technical Services Section in Collection System Division as part of the SFPUC’s Wastewater Enterprise. He is responsible for developing asset management programs for the collection system, including maintenance, prioritization and capital reinvestment of a variety of assets, such as over 160,000 sewer lateral connections, more than 800 miles of small diameter sewer mains, and over 150 miles of large diameter sewer mains. He is also involved with many different special projects, business process improvements, multi-governmental agency coordination for sewer assets, policy development and capital project delivery.

Michael Tran (pictured) volunteers at an event in 2019. Photo was taken before COVID-19.

For Tran, Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month is a time to recognize some of the many contributions to this country by Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, many of which were not taught in school. In reflection of recent events that have been happening, Tran noted how important it is to recognize, speak up, and spread awareness against anti-Asian discrimination and violence.

“I remember growing up in San Francisco, I was fortunate to not have been exposed to a lot of discrimination and violence,” he reflected. “However, recent events have certainly opened my eyes in being more vigilant while doing mundane things like running regular errands. I’ve also had to have more frequent conversations with family and friends to be more alert when out and about.”

Tran noted that for many people in the AAPI community, speaking up against discrimination has not been easy, but it has been significant when they have come together as a community to speak up and show up.

“It’s great to see many different communities standing in solidarity not just against anti-Asian discrimination, but discrimination overall – this is what makes me proud to live in the San Francisco Bay Area,” he shared. “As an overall community, we need to evolve from focusing on tolerance to acceptance of the multi-cultural melting pot that this country is known to be. Teaching our next generation acceptance of other cultures will not only help make the Bay Area a better place to live, but ultimately create a world of inclusion for all people.”