In The News: Margaret Fung, Co-Founder of AALDEF, is Retiring after 50 Years of Service as a Pioneer in the Struggle for AAPI Civil Rights

On April 1, 2024, AsAm News published an article by Ti-Hua Chang reporting on the retirement of  Margaret Fung, co-founder of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). After serving as Executive Director of AALDEF for most of the fifty years she’s been with the organization, she is now retiring from her position in October.

AALDEF, based in New York, is a national organization known for spearheading advocacy efforts in support AAPI workers’ rights, voting rights, and anti-Asian hate initiatives, among others. Margaret Fung, who pioneered many such civil rights activities, has been praised by community leaders, especially in Chinatown, for her continuous fight to improve the lives of the working people and immigrant communities. After hearing about her retirement, many wondered what the future of AALDEF will look like without her prominent contributions. 

Executive Director of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) Yang Chen stated, “AALDEF is the NAACP of the Asian American community and has done a lot of great work in the last 50 years. Now that Margaret is stepping down, the big question is: will they be able to perpetuate that, continue that.”

The full article can be found at:

Whatever the future holds for AALDEF in the years to come, Margaret’s legacy as an AAPI civil rights advocate and trailblazer in the male-dominated legal field will continue to live on. AABANY honors Margaret for all that she has accomplished in a storied career. 

Congratulations to the Law Firm of Hugh H. Mo, P.C. for Receiving NAPABA’s APA-Owned Law Firm of the Year Award

The Law Firm of Hugh H. Mo, P.C (Mo Law Firm). is being recognized as APA-Owned Law Firm of the Year by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). This award is presented annually to an acclaimed law firm that has demonstrated a strong commitment to advocating for the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, while simultaneously upholding the highest ethical and legal standards within the field. This well-deserved recognition not only acknowledges the Firm’s outstanding legal work, but also its staunch commitment to Pro Bono representation of AAPI crime survivors and those facing race-based discrimination. The Mo Law Firm was presented with the award during the Saturday evening Gala at the NAPABA Convention in Indianapolis, on November 11.

The Mo Law Firm, headquartered in New York City, is set apart by its distinguished father-daughter team among its legal staff. As founder and partner, long-time AABANY member Hugh H. Mo, and counsel, Elizabeth L. Mo, were both former prosecutors at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Their careers embody the American dream and the immigrant ethos of upholding tradition while pursuing professional success. 

The son of one of China’s first female journalists and a law professor killed by the communists for his democratic beliefs, Hugh H. Mo immigrated to America at the age of nine. Growing up in NYC’s Chinatown, Mo witnessed firsthand the discrimination and oppression that the Chinese American community faced. After receiving his J.D. from Boston University School of Law, Hugh was ready to make his mark on the legal landscape of New York. He was the first Asian American appointed as an Assistant District Attorney at the Manhattan DA’s Office, and was also the first Asian American appointed as Deputy Commissioner for the New York City Police Department.

Continuing the legacy of her family’s dedication to the law, Elizabeth L. Mo embarked on her own remarkable journey. After graduating from Boston University School of Law, she became an Assistant District Attorney at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and served in both the Trial and Investigations Divisions. Her unwavering commitment to justice and her passion for advocating on behalf of the marginalized mirrors her father’s dedication. Today, this dynamic father-daughter duo collaborate and combine their wealth of experience and shared values in their pursuit of legal excellence and justice.

When asked about their initial reaction to receiving this prestigious award, both Hugh and Elizabeth expressed their deep gratitude towards AABANY and NABAPA. “Essentially, this recognition stands as a lifetime achievement award, not just for our Firm, but for both Liz and me, acknowledging our unwavering commitment as Asian American lawyers,” remarked Hugh, contemplating his distinguished career. Elizabeth echoed her father’s sentiments, adding: “We are so thankful to AABANY and NAPABA for supporting our careers and our Firm. Only in America could a firm like ours exist and prosper, and this recognition also serves as tribute to all of those that have come before us and people who we hope to inspire.”

With a combined 60 plus years of trial and investigation experiences, the Mo Law Firm has achieved remarkable success for its primarily Chinese clients. However, for this unique firm, legal representation goes beyond the courtroom. The Firm’s mission is tri-fold: vigorously advocating for their clients, mentoring AAPIs and championing the AAPI community’s causes. The firm represents a variety of corporate entities, foreign entrepreneurs, emerging start-ups, and governmental organizations, and individuals, domestic and overseas, delivering innovative legal advice and strategic counsel and problem solving in a variety of practice areas, including federal and state litigation, white collar criminal defense, commercial litigation, compliance and regulatory, business and tax matters.

Beyond that, the firm engages in extensive Pro Bono work, giving back to the community. “A lot of people think of Pro Bono as volunteer work, or being part of an overall effort to do good. I think that as an attorney, Pro Bono should be very much part of an attorney’s practice, career, as well as dedication,” firmly stated Hugh, who has dedicated his life to public service. Adding onto her father’s beliefs, Elizabeth portrayed Pro Bono as an endeavor that should not be marked by ability, but by obligation. “It is not about the ‘we can’s’ or ‘we should’s,’ but rather, by the fact that we must give back to the community,” she stated fervently. 

Elizabeth expanded on the interplay between her Asian American identity and her legal work. “As Asian Americans, we have a very unique cultural and language competency that not everyone has. It’s like being a unicorn— our firm is truly a unicorn in this industry. We would like to dedicate our skills and competencies to Pro Bono resources.” The Mo Law Firm has provided legal representation to victims of Asian hate crimes, individuals targeted by scams, students and healthcare professionals facing discrimination. Additionally, they have advocated for AAPI interests in unprecedented legal challenges, exemplifying their commitment to justice and community advancement over 30 years of legal practice. 

Speaking about memorable Pro Bono cases, Hugh shared an instance where he helped an Asian American high school student suffering from school bullying because of his racial identity navigate unjust felony and misdemeanor charges for making alleged terrorist threats on social media against his tormentors. After a back and forth battle with the District Attorney’s office, Hugh was able to secure a non-criminal disposition for the young man, allowing him to continue his education unfettered by a criminal record. Years later, Hugh learned that the young man not only graduated from college and law school, but was working as an Assistant District Attorney. The young man’s life journey would not have been possible without Hugh’s zealous advocacy on his behalf. “We as lawyers, if we have the capacity to do so, we should step up and do right every day. Lawyers should use our resources— our trade, our experience, our connections— to do good,” Hugh declared. Recalling the case proudly, Hugh believes that this case truly epitomizes the Mo Law Firm’s dedication to its ethos, the pursuit of justice and unwavering commitment advocating for clients beyond the call of duty. 

The Mo Law Firm’s approach to Pro Bono work goes far beyond legal representation, encompassing a holistic perspective. “To us, Pro Bono is not just about representing victims of hate crimes, but also supporting and mentoring the clients and other attorneys. It’s really so embedded in our firm’s culture that we don’t even think of it as Pro Bono,” Elizabeth explained. During his legal career spanning over four decades, Hugh has co-founded numerous APA civil and community organizations including: the Chinatown Health Clinic (predecessor to the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center), NYPD Asian Jade Society, Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) and most recently, the NYPD Asian American Police Executives Council (AAPEX). Most notably, Hugh and Elizabeth have been actively involved and supported AABANY and NAPABA throughout their legal careers, with Hugh serving as a founding member of AABANY and Elizabeth as a former Co-Chair of the Young Lawyers Committee and currently as Co-Chair of NAPABA’s Government Enforcement and Compliance Committee. 

AABANY congratulates Hugh H. Mo and Elizabeth L. Mo for their well-deserved recognition as NAPABA’s APA-Owned Law Firm of the Year. Not only have they demonstrated exceptional legal prowess, their tireless dedication to the principles of justice and equity, especially on behalf of the AAPI community, is a profound testament to their values.

Please join AABANY in congratulating The Law Firm of Hugh H. Mo, PC on this award, along with all the honorees being recognized at the 2023 NAPABA Convention.

Beatrice Leong Honored with NAPABA’s Best Under 40 Award

In recognition of her legal prowess, dedication to service, and entrepreneurial spirit, Beatrice Leong, a prominent Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) woman solo practitioner, has been honored with the Best Under 40 award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). Beatrice will receive the award on November 11th at the NAPABA Convention in Indianapolis, during the Gala on Saturday evening. The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) is thrilled to celebrate this outstanding achievement and applauds Beatrice’s unwavering commitment to the legal profession and her community.

Empathy Born from Experience

Beatrice was set on becoming a prosecutor since she was in Junior High school. She was married to her high school sweetheart, she had finished law school, and she had an offer to intern with the Queens District Attorney’s office.

The discovery of her then-husband’s infidelity threw a wrench in her plans and forced Beatrice on a different path. Her consultations with divorce attorneys were disheartening. She failed the bar exam. “I felt like I was dying,” she said, looking back on that time. Nevertheless, she took matters into her own hands. The same drive and passion for justice that made her want to prosecute wrongdoers pushed her to become a divorce lawyer, the kind that she wanted for herself, and one that her future clients could safely rely on.

From personal experience, Beatrice understands the emotional and often heart-wrenching aspects of divorce and family conflicts. This has equipped her with a profound empathy that she channels into her legal practice. She is a compassionate advocate who walks alongside her clients through the tumultuous process of divorce, offering pragmatic guidance with a deep understanding of the emotions that accompany such challenges.

Redefining Success as a Solo Practitioner and Entrepreneur

Beatrice started her career in divorce and family law at matrimonial and family law firms in both Queens and Manhattan, first at Plaine & Katz LLP and later at Parmet & Zhou LLC and Kleyman Law Firm. She started her own practice, the Law Office of Beatrice Leong, in 2021. As the only solo practitioner among this year’s Best Under 40 honorees, Beatrice’s remarkable journey is an inspiration to young lawyers. Reflecting on her career, Beatrice emphasized the importance, especially for young AAPI lawyers, to recognize the value of their work and not be afraid to carve their own path.

Leadership in the Legal Community

Beyond her exceptional legal practice, Beatrice is dedicated to serving the AAPI community by playing an active role in both AABANY and NAPABA. She currently serves as a Co-Vice President of Programs and Operations at AABANY and a Co-Chair of NAPABA’s Solo & Small Firm Network.

Through AABANY, Beatrice met other AAPI lawyers, rare in her field, and people who could relate to being mistaken by court officers as an interpreter, intern or a litigant, because they do not fit the traditional image of a lawyer. She says that she found “her community” through AABANY: the pro bono clients she advised through AABANY, fellow AAPI lawyers, and AAPI law students.

Beatrice recalls being described as a “natural leader” by her peers at AABANY after she joined. More and more, she dedicated her free time to fostering connections between the organization’s members, drawing from a deeply held conviction that strength comes from unity. Later, she joined NAPABA to promote AAPI representation on a national level.

Beatrice Leong’s journey is a testament to her unyielding dedication to her clients, her community, and the legal profession. Her personal understanding, professional excellence, and commitment to service make her a beacon of hope for those navigating the difficult waters of divorce and family law. Beatrice’s passion and expertise continue to inspire and make a profound impact, both in the legal world and the lives of those she serves.

Congratulations to Beatrice Leong on this well-deserved award and recognition! You can click here to learn more about the Best Under 40 award and read about other awardees. 

Please join AABANY in congratulating all of the honorees at the 2023 NAPABA Convention.

Brian Song Honored with NAPABA’s Military and Veteran Service Award

In recognition of his unwavering dedication to his military service, his career and his community, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) presented the 2023 Military and Veteran Service Award to Brian Song. The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) is honored to join in celebrating this outstanding achievement and recognizing Brian’s profound commitment to the legal profession and his extraordinary service to his community. Brian will receive the award on November 11th at the NAPABA Convention in Indianapolis.

A Unique Journey of Service and Ambition

Raised by first-generation Korean immigrant parents who instilled in him a strong sense of duty and the value of service, Brian found his calling early in life. Like most immigrant parents, there were only three “acceptable” career paths in his parents’ eyes: doctor, lawyer, or engineer. From an early age, Brian wanted to be two things- a lawyer and a soldier.

After attending college on an Army ROTC scholarship, Brian faced the choice of starting his service obligation to the Army immediately upon graduating or seeking an educational delay in order to attend law school. Since a delay would allow him to realize his childhood dream of becoming a soldier and his career goal of becoming a lawyer, he chose to compete for the delay and ultimately for selection in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG). His journey was influenced by his strong desire to give back to his country. It was an unconventional path but one that has led to remarkable accomplishments.

Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges

Throughout his military career, Brian often found himself taking the road less traveled. As an Asian American officer, he was acutely aware of the scarcity of Asian American faces, especially in more senior ranks. He frequently found himself to be the only Asian American in the room during important discussions, a reality that further fueled his commitment to breaking barriers and opening doors for others.

One of the moments that resonated with Brian was the tragedy of Danny Chen, a young soldier who faced harassment and abuse in the military. Experiences like these strengthened his resolve to advocate for inclusivity and equity within the military. (You can read about AABANY’s participation in the 12th Annual Commemoration of Private Danny Chen here.) 

While he acknowledges that progress has been made, there is still much work to be done to shatter the so-called “bamboo ceiling” that restricts Asian Americans’ representation in the higher ranks of the military. The lack of representation in flag officer roles, i.e., generals and admirals, is a concern that remains. 

Service and Leadership in the Legal Profession

After law school, Brian’s legal career began in the JAG Corps, serving with distinction for four years on active duty from 2003 to 2007. At the end of his original military commitment, Brian volunteered to continue his service in the U.S. Army Reserve. Despite balancing a civilian career as an associate, and now as a partner, with several major law firms, Brian devoted the time and energy necessary for success in his military career. The Reserves are supposed to be one weekend a month and two weeks a year, but it is often more than that especially at the senior ranks. It is not possible to overstate the sacrifices that our military reservists make in order to continue to serve by balancing two careers along with family and other obligations.  

Notably, he was part of a pro bono legal team that filed a suit on behalf of Sikh American recruits who were denied religious accommodations to both practice their faith and join the United States Marine Corps. After an initial defeat in District Court, the case — Toor et al. v. Berger et al.— continues into the next phase as the plaintiffs seek meaningful religious accommodations throughout their respective careers in the Marine Corps. Brian and his co-counsels hope that the Marine Corps will conform to the policies adopted by the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force. 

Bar Association Work: A Calling and a Community

Brian’s involvement with NAPABA and AABANY showcases his commitment to service not only in the military but also within the legal profession. Joining bar associations was a piece of advice from mentors who emphasized its importance for career development. Although he initially felt too busy, Brian realized the tremendous value in getting involved as soon as he joined AABANY.

Brian’s contributions to the Asian American legal community have been profound. He established the Military & Veterans Affairs Committee at AABANY and later led the Military & Veterans Network at NAPABA. He hoped to bridge the gap from those transitioning from the military to civilian life, foster greater understanding among the legal community and veterans, and create a platform to discuss legal issues in which veterans have special expertise. From 2019 to 2020, Brian served as AABANY’s President. 

Brian’s service, his legal accomplishments, and his deep involvement in bar associations make him a true trailblazer and an inspiration. We extend our warmest congratulations to Brian Song for receiving the 2023 Military and Veteran Service Award from NAPABA. Brian’s dedication to both his country and the legal profession is truly remarkable, and we are proud to celebrate Brian’s achievements. Click here to learn more about the Military & Veteran Service Award.

Please join AABANY in congratulating all the honorees at the 2023 NAPABA Convention.

AABANY Co-Sponsors: The Center on Asian Americans and the Law Second Annual Summer Scholarship Conference at Fordham Law School

On July 20th, 2023, Fordham Law School Professor Thomas H. Lee and 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Denny Chin, Co-Directors of the Center on Asian Americans and the Law (CAAL) at Fordham University, presented the Second Annual Summer Scholarship Conference. Both Professor Lee and Judge Chin are AABANY members and leaders. Professor Lee is a Co-Chair of AABANY’s Academic Committee, while Judge Chin served as AABANY’s President from 1992 to 1993 and has, with his wife Kathy Hirata Chin, led AABANY’s Trial Reenactments project. 

The Center on Asian Americans and the Law is a “first-of-its-kind institution,” dedicated to civic education, scholarship and AAPI legal studies, as well as outreach and public advocacy, according to the CAAL website. Serving as a center of academic excellence, CAAL also strives to empower AAPI communities through education, research, outreach, and advocacy. By bringing together scholars, legal practitioners, students, as well as other community leaders, it creates a vibrant and diverse community that can collectively address the challenges facing AAPI individuals with a unified voice.

The event began with attendees introducing themselves over pastries and coffee, enjoying breakfast and each other’s company. Next, Professor Lee and Judge Chin led a masterclass on Asian Americans and the law, giving attendees a snapshot of AAPI legal history. This masterclass allowed attendees to sample the robust curriculum that Professor Lee and Judge Chin have brought to prestigious institutions such as Fordham, Harvard, and Yale Law. They discussed important but little-known cases related to naturalization, historical discrimination, and espionage and race and national origin, thoroughly captivating their audience. 

After a lunch break, with sandwiches and light refreshments, a panel discussion featuring instructors who have taught Asian Americans and the Law was held. Instructors discussed a multitude of topics, such as integrating technology into the classroom, topical issues related to the curriculum, and ways to engage the student population with the coursework provided. Sharing their own experiences in the classroom, the panelists provided noteworthy tips and advice. 

Following the panel, works in progress related to Asian Americans and the Law were presented. These works featured “Immigration and the Lived Experience” by Professor Catherine Kim, “Birthright Citizenship” by Chris Kwok, and “Disrupting Racism” by Peter Huang. Feedback was provided by Professor Elaine Chiu, Professor Thomas Lee, and Professor David Law. Their expertise offered crucial guidance to the presenters, encouraging further development of their research. The engagement between the panelists and presenters enriched the spirit of academic growth and intellectual exploration that is vital to CAAL. 

Finally, an off-the-record Round Table discussion about Asian Americans and Affirmative Action was held. The insights shared during the discussion were thought-provoking and diverse. Participants engaged in candid conversations, offering varying perspectives on the complex intersection of race-conscious admissions policies and the experiences of Asian American students in higher education.

After the panels were done, the event concluded with a reception. Attendees and panelists mingled, getting to know each other while sharing their thoughts and insights from the discussions of the day.

We thank Judge Denny Chin and Professor Thomas H. Lee for leading the Summer Scholarship Conference. To learn more about the Center on Asian Americans and the Law, please click here.

Thank You Letter from Kate Siahaan-Rigg and Special Message for Our AABANY Members!

This year, we had the privilege of having the wonderful Kate Siahaan-Rigg, a remarkable actress, comedian, and activist, as our Master of Ceremonies (MC). She was our MC last year during our 2022 Annual Dinner, and now, it is our honor to have her again to host this year’s event. 

Following the 2023 Annual Dinner, Kate asked us to share this message with you all:

Hello AABANY members, 

I had such a wonderful time hosting the gala [on May 23], meeting some of the incredible membership, and honoring your achievements collectively in uplifting our community. I forgot to tell everyone to save the date September 25 for the next DisOrientalism event I’m curating hosting in New York – there will be discounts for AABANY members! And also to, please follow me on Instagram @kateriggnyc to keep connected and show support for AAPI artists. CongratulAsians on a very successful event!!!

Kate

Thank you, Kate, for being a terrific MC. We will be on the lookout for news about DisOrientalism and try to get a group together to go. Stay tuned!

Allen & Overy Presents AABANY Trial Reenactment: Oyama v. State of California

On May 24, AABANY and Allen & Overy (A&O) presented a reenactment of the historic case Oyama v. State of California, in commemoration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. This landmark case was reenacted by attorneys and law students to tell a captivating story involving AAPI litigants on an important constitutional case known to very few but which has resonance to the present day.

As described on the AABANY Trial Reenactments website:

Inspired by Prof. Rose Cuison Villazor’s law review article, “Rediscovering Oyama v. California: At the Intersection of Property, Race, and Citizenship,” 87 Wash. U. L. Rev. 979 (2010), the reenactment dealt with the California Alien Land Law which prevented “aliens ineligible from citizenship” – i.e., Japanese – from owning land. The case explored the ways in which denial of property rights also served to promote racial discrimination against the Japanese in California. In the case, Kajiro Oyama, a Japanese immigrant who was ineligible for United States citizenship at the time, bought a parcel of farmland which he deeded to his minor son Fred, who was born in the United States and was thus a citizen. Under the Alien Land Laws, this transaction was deemed a fraud and the State of California brought suit against Fred Oyama to escheat the property. The case went all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, where the statute’s constitutionality was placed before the Court for its review.

The in-person reenactment was followed by a lively panel discussion co-sponsored by A&O’s U.S. Asian Affinity Network. The discussion was led by A&O Partner John Hwang and Associate Rachel Lee and featuring guest speakers Professor Rose Cuison-Villazor and Shenyang Wu. As the Interim Co-Dean at Rutgers Law School, Professor Cuison-Villazor shared details of her personal discussion with the Oyama family in 2010 for her paper. Shenyang, a partner at Alpha Law NY PLLC and a co-founder of the Chinese American Legal Defense Alliance (CALDA), reinforced that sentiments from legislation like the Alien Land Act of 1913 are still alive by noting Texas lawmakers’ recent decision to restrict Chinese foreign nationals’ land ownership.

A particularly poignant moment during the panel occurred when John Hwang conducted an informal survey of the number of lawyers who had heard of the Oyama v. California case prior to the reenactment. In a room of more than 50 attorneys and law students, less than 5 people raised their hands. This demonstrates how much more work needs to be done for AAPI and the law in legal education and highlights the importance of reenactments like this. The significance of the case for the AAPI community extends beyond issues of immigration, residency, and land ownership. It symbolizes the power of every voice that deserves to be heard and every story that needs to be told.

We thank Allen & Overy and all of the participants in the reenactment for giving their time to raise awareness of the Oyama family’s legacy. For more information about AABANY’s trial reenactment project, visit https://reenactments.aabany.org/.  

AABANY Member Profile: Christopher Bae Runs for New York City Council

Christopher Bae, a prominent member of AABANY’s leadership team, is running for City Council District 19. Christopher entered AABANY’s Membership Committee early on in his career as an Assistant District Attorney at the Queen’s District Attorney’s Office. Since then, he has been involved in the organization’s leadership, serving on the Board as Secretary from 2021 to 2022 and currently as Membership Director of AABANY since 2022. 

Christopher has greatly enjoyed his work with AABANY and doing so has allowed him to keep a pulse on the concerns of the AAPI community, empowering him to support initiatives he finds important on a personal level, outside of his work as a prosecutor. Furthermore, he is proud to have been part of AABANY’s leadership at a time when membership grew to greater heights than ever before. “When we are all fighting for representation, people want to know just how large your organization and reach is, and AABANY has definitely grown in great strides in that area,” he states. 

During his years as an Assistant District Attorney (ADA) at the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, Christopher was responsible for the prosecution of violent felony offenses. Prior to that, he was involved in appellate work, and the prosecution of misdemeanor cases. Overall, Christopher’s ADA work has exposed him to a valuable range of experiences. Christopher elaborates: “In terms of advocacy, there’s always a back and forth between victims’ rights and the rights of the accused. Having had this experience at a time right now, where all fifty-one current City Council members never had prosecutorial experience, I think that puts me in a very unique situation where I can add more value to the City Council.”

Christopher recalls from his upbringing that his parents stressed the importance of both education and public service. “It’s because my parents trusted the importance of investing in myself and my education that I’m here with the opportunities to run for office that I have now,” he notes with gratitude. Growing up in Queens, Christopher witnessed the transformation of the borough from within, as a flurry of diverse cultures trickled into his classrooms. Inspired by the historic number of women and AAPI Council Members elected in 2021, Christopher hopes to help push the makeup of Queens’ leadership to reflect the diversity of its communities. City Council District 19 covers neighborhoods in Northeast Queens including College Point, Whitestone, North Flushing, Bayside, Douglaston, and Little Neck.

Though District 19 has a nearly 39% Asian population, if Christopher is elected, he will be the first AAPI Council Member representing that district, creating a new milestone in AAPI representation. “To that end, I do think that the more that people see diversity in elected positions, the better it is for our community members to build trust with government and become more civically engaged. Diversity can really only help, not hurt,” says Christpher. If elected, Christopher hopes to focus on initiatives supporting public safety, public education and housing affordability. He voices his support for State Senator John Liu, who is fighting for legislation that would require teaching AAPI history and experiences in classrooms. “This is the type of leadership we need— in the end, this is what representation really means. I’m really proud that Senator John Liu has endorsed me and my campaign,” he states.

Looking back on his campaign, it is hard for Christopher to stop and enjoy the fruits of his labor, amidst the whirlwind of 14-hour work days. However, the interactions between him and his community— when someone stops him on the street and affirms his desire for change— have made all of his work feel ultimately worthwhile. “To that end, I am completely enjoying the process; it is full on pedal to the metal, sprint to the finish line, and I am very happy with where we are at right now,” says Christopher.

As the end of primary elections draws closer, ending on June 27th, Christopher emphasizes the importance of AAPI political engagement. “Asian Americans historically don’t vote, and are not civically engaged— but that’s to the detriment of all of us and our communities. We only have power if we have a seat at the table, and that requires voting and being very purposeful about who represents us and our interests at both the city and state levels,” he states. Ultimately, Christopher urges all community members, regardless of their district, to get involved with their local races, vote, and support AAPI visibility in politics.

To other AAPI individuals who are considering running for public office, Christopher encourages them to join a campaign, even if it’s just on a voluntary basis. “In the end, all you have to do is provide your time, volunteer your hours, and see where it goes from there,” says Christopher.

For more information on Christopher Bae’s campaign, including how you can volunteer or support his candidacy, visit https://www.bae2023.com/, or contact his team at [email protected]

This member profile has been published for informational purposes only and does not constitute and should not be construed as a campaign endorsement.

AABANY Co-Sponsors Inaugural Hon. Randall T. Eng Award Program

AABANY co-sponsored the Inaugural Hon. Randall T. Eng Award Program on May 31, 2023, organized by and held at the Appellate Division, Second Department of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

Congratulations to Hon. Randall T. Eng, Retired Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department for this award named in recognition of his tremendous and trailblazing career and impact on the AAPI community. 

Congratulations to Congresswoman Grace Meng, 6th Congressional District. As the first and only Asian American Member of Congress from New York State, it is only fitting that she is the first recipient of the Hon. Randall T. Eng award. Congresswoman Meng’s advocacy for the AAPI community is impactful and far-reaching and AABANY applauds her tremendous work and service, including her work towards the creation of a national museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture. 

Congratulations to Presiding Justice Hector D. LaSalle and the Appellate Division, Second Department with the successful launch of the Hon. Randall T. Eng Award Program. 

The Program included remarks from:

Hon. Lara J. Genovesi, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department

Hon. Hector D. LaSalle, Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department

Letitia James, New York State Attorney General

Melinda Katz, District Attorney of Queens

Hon. Lillian Wan, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department

Karen Kim, President, AABANY

Chief Judge Hon. Rowan D. Wilson was also in attendance, as well as the distinguished judges of the Appellate Division, Second Department, and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. We would also like to extend our appreciation to the Associate Judges of the Court of Appeals, Hon. Madeline Singas, Michael Garcia, and Anthony Cannataro, for their attendance.

It was a privilege to collaborate with the Hon. Lillian Wan and the co-sponsoring bar associations: KALAGNY, FALANY, SABANY, MUBANY, and SAICBAQ. This event provided a meaningful and memorable way to celebrate and close out AAPI Heritage Month.