PDF - Biography Hugh Nguyen

Orange County Clerk-Recorder Hugh Nguyen was born in Vietnam 49 years ago. His father was an American soldier who was killed in action serving his country. Hugh was brought to America at the age of seven by his grandparents and his aunt who raised him. His journey to America began in 1975 aboard the USS Midway ending up at Camp Pendleton in California and eventually moving to El Centro. He graduated from Saddleback high school and attended Santa Ana College and completed the County of Orange’s Management Academy Program at Chapman University.

In June 2014, Hugh was overwhelmingly elected to a four year term of office and will serve through 2018. Upon taking the oath of office, Hugh became the first Vietnamese-American ever to be elected county-wide to the position of Clerk-Recorder and also the first Vietnamese-American to be elected Clerk-Recorder in the country.

Hugh has worked for the County of Orange for 23 years, of which 17 years were at the Clerk-Recorder’s Department. On April 2, 2013, Hugh was selected by the Board of Supervisors to fill the remaining term of office for Clerk-Recorder through December 2014. Hugh was selected after an extensive recruitment process in which 900 people applied for the vacant Clerk-Recorder position. The Supervisors selected Hugh due to his experience, hands on management style and desire to serve the public.

In 1993, Hugh was hired by the late County Clerk Gary Granville. During his first year at the County Clerk’s office, he worked in customer services in marriage licensing, fictitious business names, and notary registration and environmental impact report filings. In 1998, Mr. Granville promoted Hugh to the position of Chief Deputy Recorder in which he served through 2006. From 2006 until his appointment to the position of Clerk-Recorder, Hugh was the Assistant Clerk of the Board expanding his management, budget, HR, purchasing expertise and gained valuable experience in dealing with the Board of Supervisors and county operations.

Hugh was named one of Orange County’s 2015 100 Most Influential by The Orange County Register for his efforts in making his department’s services more accessible to working families. The annual 100 Most Influential list includes individuals who have influenced business, culture, education, food, giving, government, health, inspiration, science and sports.

Hugh has been a resident of Orange County for 38 years and lives with his wife and two children in Santa Ana.

Hugh's Goals for the Department include:

    • Provide “hands-on” management and leading by example.
    • Operate the Department in a cost effective manner.
    • Protect and safeguard the County’s public records.
    • Maintain a comprehensive security and backup plan for all systems and records.
    • Provide a supportive work environment and leadership to staff.
    • Increase the accessible of services for the public at branch offices and Saturday service.
    • Maintain open communications with the business community for title and mortgage recordings. 

Accomplishments to date under Hugh’s leadership

    • Implemented software that automates the indexing and redaction of real property documents making them available to the public two days after recording.
    • Completed an extensive conservation of 210 volumes of property indexes from 1889-1953 as well as the most damaged deeds kept at the Orange County Archives.
    • Digitized and converted 210 volumes of property indexes from 1889-1953 that are kept at the Orange County Archives to microfilm.
    • Streamlined real property recording services at the department’s Fullerton and Laguna Hills branch offices by adding an experienced recordable document examiner at each location.
    • Expedited the availability of birth and death certificates from 60 days to 30 days.
    • Opened a passport services office at the Laguna Hills branch office.
    • Opened a passport and marriage license unit at the Westminster County Community Service Center.
    • Conducted a department wide cost allocation study to more accurately measure the department’s operating costs and fee cost recovery practices.
    • Created policies and procedures for department staff to improve customer service.
    • Strengthened accounting oversight, by implementing stronger internal controls, and documentation.
    • Improved customer service by increasing weekday business hours at the department's branch offices.
    • Improved customer service by opening offices one Saturday per month.
    • Saved over $500,000 by finishing the fiscal year 2013-14.under budget in salary and benefits.
    • Recruited additional experience staff for the Clerk-Recorder’s financial group.
    • Recruited additional experience staff to strengthen the Clerk-Recorder’s purchasing group.
    • Restructured the department’s senior leadership in order to strengthen efficiency and oversight.