On Monday, May 24, 2022, AABANY’s Judiciary Committee hosted its annual Judges’ Reception to honor newly inducted and elevated and retiring judges in celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. We are pleased that this year’s event could be held in person, as last year’s event was via Zoom. The event was held at the Surrogate’s Courthouse, 31 Chambers Street, in downtown Manhattan.
The honorees recognized at the event were individuals who represent the significant strides that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have achieved, in the ongoing effort to increase diversity in our leading institutions. The following judges were honored:
Hon. Giyang An
Hon. Margaret Chan
Hon. Christopher Chin
Hon. Phyllis Chu
Hon. Vanessa Fang
Hon. Karen Gopee
Hon. Simiyon Haniff
Hon. Judy Kim
Hon. Biju Koshy
Hon. Andrea Ogle
Hon. Vidya Pappachan
Hon. Kim Parker
Hon. Raja Rajeswari
Hon. Omer Shahid
Hon. Soma Syed
Hon. Lillian Wan
Hon. Frances Wang
We are proud to celebrate these AAPI trailblazers in the judiciary. AAPIs remain significantly under-represented in New York courts. According to Secretary Johnson’s Report on New York Courts, 14% of New York City’s population is Asian but only 6% of judges are Asian. In light of current events and the rise in anti-Asian violence, AAPI representation on the bench is more important than ever. AABANY thanks the honorees for their pioneering example.
Thanks to everyone who joined us for this event and the Judiciary Committee for organizing. To learn more about AABANY’s Judiciary Committee and its work, click here.
19 children, 2 teachers – killed in yet another episode of gun violence that has become all too common. This endless tide of racial hate and gun violence continues to take the lives of innocent Americans across the nation. The shootings targeting communities of color in Buffalo, Dallas, and now Uvalde, Texas must stop. This week’s mass shooting at a Texas elementary school – following the Buffalo mass shooting from two weeks ago resulting in deaths of 10 predominantly older victims – is a harsh reminder that our country has failed to protect the most vulnerable among us. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of the Robb Elementary School shooting. We demand that our elected officials at all levels of government work together to take immediate action to protect Americans in their daily lives.
For Immediate Release: May 25, 2022 Contact: Mary Tablante, Associate Strategic Communications & Marketing Director
WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden nominated Judge Florence Y. Pan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. If confirmed, Judge Pan would be the first Chinese American to serve on the D.C. Circuit, the “second most powerful court” in the nation.
“NAPABA congratulates Judge Pan on her historic nomination to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit,” said A.B. Cruz III, acting president of NAPABA. “Judge Pan has a stellar record as an experienced jurist and she has received overwhelming bipartisan support in her prior confirmations to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and Superior Court of the District of Columbia. She is well respected by her peers and is a leader in the Asian Pacific American community. We urge the Senate to quickly confirm Judge Pan.”
In 2021, Judge Pan was nominated by President Biden to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and was confirmed by a vote of 68–30. She is the first Asian Pacific American woman to serve on that court.
In 2009, Judge Pan was nominated by President Obama to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the Senate confirmed her nomination by voice vote. Judge Pan was the first judicial nominee to be confirmed under the Obama Administration and she was the first Asian Pacific American judge to serve on any level in Washington, D.C.
Previously, she served for 10 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including two years as the deputy chief of the appellate division. She also held positions in the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Justice, notably in the Office of the Solicitor General. Judge Pan taught at Georgetown University Law Center and American University, Washington College of Law, and is active in her community having served as the Secretary of NAPABA’s Judicial Council.
She formerly served as a law clerk for the Honorable Ralph K. Winter, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the Honorable Michael B. Mukasey of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Pan is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford Law School.
NAPABA commends President Biden for nominating Judge Florence Y. Pan.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting APA communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of all backgrounds in the legal profession.
What do laundry workers in Manhattan’s 1930s Chinatown have to do with the neighborhood’s activists today? Experience stories of repression, mobilization, and resilience in Chinatown, past and present, at this evening of documentary film and discussion. We begin with Betty Yu’s Discovering My Grandfather Through Mao, about Yu’s grandfather’s activist work with laundry workers during the Chinese Exclusion era, followed by ManSee Kong’s Chinatown Tenant Stories: Mrs. Zheng on Delancey, about Chinatown resident Mrs. Zheng’s introduction to community organizing. The screenings conclude with a private preview of Curtis Chin’s unreleased documentary, Dear Corky, about the late photographer Corky Lee, who died of COVID-19. A talkback and audience Q & A with the directors, moderated by reporter Shirley Ng, will follow the films.
About the Speakers: Curtis Chin is an award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker whose voice has been recognized by the National Association for Multicultural Education, the National Association for Ethnic Studies, the American Librarians Association, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and more. A graduate of the creative program at the University of Michigan, Chin has also received fellowships from ABC/Disney Television, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and served as a Visiting Scholar at New York University. As a community activist, Chin co-founded the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, the premiere non-profit dedicated to promoting Asian American writers. He has also worked as the Director of Outreach for the Democratic National Committee and served on Barack Obama’s Asian American Leadership Committee during his 2008 Presidential Campaign. His memoir, Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant is scheduled to be released in 2024. curtisfromdetroit.com
ManSee Kong is a filmmaker and cultural worker born and raised on unceded Lekawe and Munsee Lenape land (Queens/NYC). Her work is anchored in immigrant experiences and inspired by grassroots community organizing efforts. Her films have screened at Museum of Modern Art, Glasgow Women’s Library, film festivals and community spaces, with support from the Jerome Foundation, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Camargo Foundation, Spike Lee Production Award, Puffin Foundation, and Asian Women Giving Circle. In 2015, she co-founded Chinatown Art Brigade (CAB) with Tomie Arai and Betty Yu, a cultural collective that uses art to advance community-led social justice campaigns. CAB has received support from A Blade of Grass, Rubin Foundation, Asian Women Giving Circle, Fourth Arts Block, Culture Push, Laundromat Project, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, among others. ManSee is a Third World Newsreel Production Workshop alum with an MFA in Film from NYU.
Shirley L. Ng is a staff writer for the news blog, Asian American News (AsAmNews) and a community organizer at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). She is an advocate for the Asian American community, a passionate supporter of Manhattan Chinatown and a member of several groups and associations. Shirley attended NYC public schools and graduated from Hunter College with a BA in Media Communications and Political Science. She was born in Manhattan and raised in Chinatown by immigrant parents from Toisan, China.
Betty Yu is a multimedia artist, photographer, filmmaker and activist born and raised in NYC to Chinese immigrant parents. Ms. Yu integrates documentary film, new media platforms, and community-infused approaches into her practice. She is a co-founder of Chinatown Art Brigade. Ms. Yu has been awarded artist residencies and fellowships from the Laundromat Project, A Blade of Grass, KODA Lab, Asian American Arts Alliance, and her work has been presented at the Brooklyn Museum, Queens Museum, NY Historical Society, and Artists Space. She holds a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, an MFA in Integrated Media Arts from Hunter College and a One-Year Certificate from International Center Photography New Media Narratives program. Ms. Yu teaches at Pratt Institute, Hunter College, and The New School and has over 20 years of community, media justice, and labor organizing work. Betty sits on the boards of Third World Newsreel and Working Films and on the advisory board of More Art.
About the Films: Chinatown Tenant Stories: Mrs. Zheng on Delancey (ManSee Kong, 2015, 6 mins.): Chinatown resident Mrs. Zheng reflects on her introduction to community organizing upon joining a local grassroots group after garment factories in Chinatown closed en masse after 9/11. Mrs. Zheng became a lead tenant organizer with CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities and successfully organized tenants in her own building on Delancey Street in 2005, pushing back against an unscrupulous landlord. Based on oral history conversations with Mrs. Zheng, Chinatown Tenant Stories is a video and talkback series created for use in tenant organizing meetings, and produced as part of the Asian American Oral History Collective in collaboration with Chinatown Tenants Union of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, with support from Third World Newsreel and LMCC.
Dear Corky (Curtis Chin, 2022, 16 mins.): For over fifty years, Corky Lee photographed New York City’s Chinatown, as well as the Asian American community around the country. With a strong sense of social justice, he captured the biggest activists and celebrities to the everyday heroes. Sadly, after continuing to document the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes, he fell to COVID. Through his words and pictures, this documentary offers a glimpse of the man behind the camera.
Discovering My Grandfather through Mao (Betty Yu, 2011, 18 mins.) is a short documentary film about Betty Yu’s personal journey as she uncovers her grandfather’s radical history as a labor organizer and co-founder of the Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance of New York (CHLA), one of the oldest Chinese-American labor organizations in this country. Her grandfather, Sui Woo, a hand laundry worker came together with other workers and recognized the need for an organization that could challenge the racist and anti-Chinese policies in the 1930’s. Today, Chinese Americans and immigrants can learn from this rich history of workers resisting institutional racism and recognizing the importance of community organizing as a powerful tool.
About Asian CineVision: Asian CineVision (ACV) is a 501(c)(3) media arts nonprofit devoted to the development, exhibition, promotion, and preservation of Asian and Asian American experiences through storytelling. Our mission is to nurture and grow the community of makers and enthusiasts of Asian and Asian American independent film, television, and digital.
On Thursday, May 19, 2022, AABANY board members, committee chairs and invitees attended a private viewing of “Photographic Justice: A Tribute to Corky Lee.” The event was well-attended by numerous EDNY judges, community members and elected officials.
“Photographic Justice” pays homage to the life and work of renowned New York City-based photographer Corky Lee, who documented the Asian American movement through the last five decades. The group photography exhibit features a selection of Lee’s works along with that of other Asian American photographers. The term “photographic justice” has been used by Lee to describe his mission to rectify the exclusion of Asian Americans in America’s visual history.
Lee’s last project was to chronicle the effort to combat anti-Asian violence before his passing from COVID-19 in 2021.
A long-time friend of AABANY, Lee was the photographer for AABANY’s Annual Dinner for many years. In 2017, AABANY co-sponsored a photo exhibit by Corky Lee in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. At the event, Lee discussed his experiences as a photojournalist over the years as and his role as the self-proclaimed “Undisputed Unofficial Asian American Photographer Laureate.”
AABANY President William Ng, in his remarks during the reception, read the dedication to Corky from AABANY’s Anti-Asian Hate and Violence Report: “Corky Lee personified the Asian-American movement, and AABANY honors his memory by carrying on his work to combat indifference, injustice and discrimination against Asian Americans.”
This exhibit is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM through November 20, at Hon. Charles P. Sifton Gallery of the United States Courthouse for the Eastern District of New York (225 Cadman Plaza East).
Thanks to AABANY board member Chris Kwok for his instrumental role in organizing and making this VIP reception possible.
Greater NY Chinese Dollars for Scholars scholars not only receive scholarship dollars but become engaged members of our alumni community.
We believe in supporting our scholars to achieve their full potential through engagement and fostering a culture of giving back.
Scholarships are for high school seniors of Chinese descent entering college in the fall.
Scholarships are for students living in NY, NJ or CT with the exception of the Wonton Food scholarship which is open to students nationwide.
A. Merit Scholarships: Four-Year Scholarships for $1,000 per year (Total is $4000) B. New Immigrant Scholarships (students arriving in the US after 1/1/19): Four-Year Scholarships for $1,000 per year (Total is $4000) C. Need-Based Scholarships : Four-Year Scholarships for $2,500 per year (Total is $10,000) D. Wonton Foods Achievement Scholarships: Four-Year Scholarships $2,500 per year (Total is $10,000) for children of persons currently working in the Asian restaurant business in the US for at least one year
Karen Lin, an AABANY member since 2019, is a candidate for Judge of the Civil Court in Queens. A dedicated public servant, Karen currently serves as court attorney-referee in Kings County Surrogate’s Court. A former Committee Co-Chair for AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee, she led the creation of the Queens Pro Bono Clinic in 2020 and subsequently the Remote Legal Clinic. Now, she hopes to serve her community in a new capacity by becoming the first East Asian female judge elected in Queens.
A Lifelong New Yorker
Karen was raised in Flushing and northeast Queens by immigrant parents and continues to call Queens home today. A student of the New York City public school system, she attended the selective Hunter College High School and later the Bronx High School of Science. She attended college at the State University of New York at Buffalo before returning to New York City to pursue her law degree at Brooklyn Law School.
Motivated to be an advocate for everyday people, Karen began her career as a civil rights and family law attorney at a small firm. She represented families in New York City Family Court and State Supreme Court. She subsequently left for an opportunity to work in the legislative office of New York State Senator Catherine Abate of the 27th District, covering lower and midtown Manhattan. There, as District Counsel and later Chief of Staff, she advocated for constituents in neighborhoods that included Chinatown and the Garment District. The experience gave Karen new insight into the needs of New Yorkers on issues such as affordable housing, fair wages, and labor rights.
Making the Courts Accessible to Everyone
When Senator Abate gave up her seat to run for Attorney General, Karen returned to the courtroom, this time as a court attorney. Working as a neutral arbiter refined her ability to resolve disputes, facilitate dialogue, and practice empathy. Her commitment to justice was well-recognized by her colleagues, as she was subsequently appointed judge of the New York City Housing Court. “Housing court is the last stop before you’re homeless,” Karen reflects, “[yet] the playing field is so unlevel.” She was humbled by this opportunity. Having advocated for underserved communities for decades, Karen was committed to resolving the disputes before her with full understanding from both parties.
The bench was Karen’s dream position as a public servant. As a judge, she worked hard to ensure that each person who appeared before her had a meaningful opportunity to be heard. But with a growing family, she decided to step off the bench to care for her three young children. She returned to the courtroom in 2013 as a court attorney-referee in Surrogate’s Court, the position she continues to hold today. She assists grieving families who face difficult conversations following the loss of a loved one. Care and compassion are pillars to Karen’s work: “If you care about people, you’ll care about their problems and see people as people instead of cases to go through,” she explains.
Changing the Air in the Room
Now that her children are older, Karen hopes to deliver justice again through the bench. She believes that “a good judge knows the law, understands and applies it. A great judge does that and cares about people.” As the daughter of immigrants, a working mother and a lifelong public servant to disadvantaged communities, Karen stresses the need for diverse judges who are attuned to their constituents’ backgrounds. In Queens, where Karen is running, Asians are among the most underrepresented groups in the judiciary. According to the Special Advisor Report on New York State Courts, around 9 percent of Queens judges are Asian although the most recent Queens census reports that Asians constitute 27 percent of the population.
“The air in the room changes depending on who is in it,” Karen says. She hopes that her campaign will inspire other candidates from underrepresented backgrounds to run for the bench. “As lawyers, [running for the judiciary] is not on our radar…yet invisibility changes when we call it out, when there are more of us who are not silent.” As judge, she is committed to continue serving everyday families and to ensure they are treated with dignity throughout the process.
For more information about Karen Lin’s campaign, including how you can volunteer or support her candidacy, please visit https://www.karenlin2022.com/.
As soon as AABANY Co-VP of Programs and Operations Beatrice Leong learned about this inaugural event, she leaped into action to make sure that AABANY members and friends can march up Sixth Ave to represent our bar association. Several email blasts and social media posts went out inviting people to join us at the parade line-up on Sunday morning.
The day started with foggy conditions, and AABANY was among the first groups on West 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. We found a good spot to gather on the street, right between the Iroquois Hotel and the New York City Bar Association building. Over the next two hours, the block filled with numerous groups and associations representing a wide array of AAPI organizations and cultures. On our left were brightly colored floats, and on our right were fancy buggies that transported VIPs. Everyone was growing impatient to start marching. Shortly after 12 noon, we started to see floats moving forward onto Sixth Avenue, followed by the community groups and organizations. When AABANY turned down the Avenue of Americas, the sun came out and shined brightly.
Everyone was happy to be part of this historic parade, which we hope will grow as big as the Thanksgiving Day parade in the future.
After the parade, members enjoyed a sumptuous meal at Tang Pavilion.
We thank member Lord Chester So for helping us obtain a banner on short notice!
We thank the following AABANY Members for joining and marching with us!
Founder, Rocky Chin Hon. Vidya Pappachan Executer Director Yang Chen Co- Vice President of Programming and Operations, Beatrice Leong Board Director Chris Kwok Pro Bono Committee Co-Chairs: Eugene Kim and May Wong Pro Bono Committee Vice Chair: Johnny Thach GSPI Committee Chair: Kevin Hsi Women’s Committee Co-Chair: Wen Zhang Susan Shin, past AABANY President (2016) and her husband Rob Lord Chester So Priya Vanessa Outar Jennifer Park Grace Vee Gary Yeung Amelia Rusli Xuanyou Chen Marjorie Tsang
We were pleased to be joined by our friends at SABANY including SABANY President Austin D’Souza. Thanks to everyone who helped make history with AABANY at this first Annual AAPI Heritage and Culture Parade!
On May 12, 2022 the Membership and Bankruptcy Committees hosted a dinner at Cafe China. The acclaimed restaurant is known for its classic Sichuan favorites such as cumin lamb and tea-smoked duck. Membership Vice Chair Ashley Shan planned the family style menu, and the group had a great time discussing food, tv and career goals.
We thank Will Hao, Bankruptcy Chair, for co-hosting!
AABANY is trying to support small Asian owned businesses and restaurants through our Restaurant Series, which will be held twice a month. Our next event is at Louie’s Pizza, whose owner and his father stood up for the victim of an anti-AAPI attack. Louie and Cazim courageously came to the help of an elderly Korean woman who was being robbed and attacked in front of their store and were themselves stabbed in the process. We hope you will join us in supporting the restaurant on May 28, 1pm at Louie’s Pizza (8134 Baxter Ave, Queens). For more information and to register, please visit https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1638502. For more information, please email Membership Director Christopher Bae at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AABANY hosted for the second time the Columbia Law School’s Spring Break Caravan. This year, Caravan representative Angel Li (CLS ’23) reached out to the Pro Bono & Community Service Committee (PBCS) and Student Outreach Committee (SOC) to supervise six students during the week of March 14, 2022. During this program, students shadowed volunteer attorneys at the Queens pro bono clinics held on Saturdays, researched and drafted legal training materials for the pro bono clinics, attended a legal community presentation about bankruptcy, and met with various mentors from law firms and SOC graduates.
On behalf of PBCS, we want to thank these law students for creating much-needed training materials to help volunteer attorneys in recognizing common issues in housing, family, wills and estates, and immigration law with flowcharts and outlines. These pro bono clinics act like triages in which attorneys spot issues for the individuals and provide legal information and referrals within a 30-minute session. We’ve been quite fortunate to have the support of our volunteer attorneys who are willing to teach each other and to open the eyes of these young law students about the problems many indigent and limited English proficient clients face daily.
On behalf of SOC, we are grateful for the not-for profit and biglaw corporate attorneys coming together to mentor these law students. Despite their different backgrounds and areas of practice, members of AABANY are always generously contributing their time, resources, and efforts to aid the AAPI community and leading these law students to a career of their own choosing.
Rather than picking just one essay from the Caravan, we believe it’s best to share with you all a snippet of these law students’ thoughts about the Caravan. We wish them the best in completing their studies and continue the AABANY’s spirit of giving back to the community.
Eugene Kim, PBCS
William Lee, SOC
May Wong, PBCS
Supervisors of the Caravan
“In the first instance, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the texts that were assigned preparatory to the start of the Caravan. The excerpt from How Do You Live? was especially memorable as a means of getting me into the right mindset before the program even formally began. It goes without saying that behind every law student and lawyer lies a sizable aggregation of resources: years of schooling, various internship opportunities, and votes of confidence from a network of supportive people. Law students and lawyers are the products of considerable societal investment; as such, it is incumbent upon them to give back and to give generously.”
-Andrew Chang –
“While I knew that our society had those problems, I realized that knowing problems is different from helping people facing the problems. I also understood that volunteer attorneys need to deal with various issues in different legal areas in a limited time in the clinic. Therefore, clients’ problems are not entirely solved there, but clients are given helpful advice on the following steps to solve the problems.”
– Nobuko Ikeda –
“Overall, I really valued not only peeking into the issues faced by the community, but also into how Asian American attorneys are helping combat those issues through the clinic. This caravan has inspired me to participate in the pro bono clinic as a future attorney, and I look forward to exploring even more ways to make the sessions efficient and to help the clients legally and emotionally.”
-Angel Li –
“What I found during the research was that massive amounts of materials and resources are already provided by municipal bodies, government officials, and private law firms on the internet. However, people who are not legal professionals would have difficulty utilizing these public resources. The difficulty arises from a language barrier and complexity in understanding and applying legal standards to one’s own situation.”
– Shota Sugiura-
“I appreciated all the genuine and candid advice I received from our Caravan supervisors, and am especially grateful for the wisdom from my AABANY mentor. It was an amazing opportunity to hear from lawyers from a range of backgrounds: those working in public service, those at firms, those who have transitioned to in-house. It was an equally exciting chance to build bonds with other Columbia APALSA members who felt passionate about giving back to our community.”