Hon. Lillian Wan (second from left), AABANY member and past co-chair of the Government and Public Sector Committee, spoke on a panel exploring AAPI leadership in America, presented by the Binghamton Asian and Asian American Alumni Council on March 19 at the SUNY Global Center in midtown Manhattan. Judge Wan ascended to the bench last July and sits in Kings County Family Court. Also on the panel were Patrice Tanaka, head of her own public relations agency, CRT/tanaka (first from left), and Wayne Tang, Director of Financial Research Administration and Special Projects at Columbia University Medical Center (third from left). Moderating the panel was Prof. David Stahl, associate professor and chair of the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies at Harpur College of Arts and Sciences at Binghamton.

Judge Wan shared her experiences in going through the judicial appointment process. When she was rejected at first, she sought feedback and was told that while she had the technical competence, she had to be “more like Captain Kirk and less like Mr. Spock” if she wanted to get on the bench. Judge Wan took the criticism in stride and went on to speak from the heart in future judicial interviews and ultimately got appointed by Mayor Bloomberg in July 2012.

In the audience was journalist Wesley Yang who wrote an article published two years ago in New York Magazine entitled “Paper Tigers: What happens to all the Asian-American overachievers when the test-taking ends?” He is working on a book on Asian Americans in leadership. Perhaps we will see some of Judge Wan’s and the other panelists’ comments in the book when it comes out.