Robin Mangaser Tizon Memorial Law Scholarship Application Available Now

APPLICATIONS DUE 5:00 P.M. (Eastern) MAY 20, 2022

THE ROBIN MANGASER TIZON MEMORIAL LAW SCHOLARSHIP

The Robin Mangaser Tizon Memorial Law Scholarship is sponsored by the NFALA Foundation in collaboration with FALA New York. Robin Mangaser Tizon, Esq., MBA, was a beloved wife, daughter, sister and proud Filipina-American lawyer. Robin was born the third of four daughters, whose immigrant parents instilled in their children the value of education and service to one’s community.  Throughout her life, Robin devoted herself in advocacy of many causes, including Filipino veterans’ rights, adolescents with cancer, and immigrants’ rights.  She also had musical talent and a fine eye for design, enlivening any event with her singing, dancing, and keyboard skills.

After overcoming stage III ovarian cancer at the age of 23, Robin achieved her dream of becoming a lawyer, graduating from Rutgers School of Law-Camden in 2013 with a JD/MBA degree.  Robin focused her practice on intellectual property law.   She served as a valuable leader of NFALA and FALA New York where she found inspiring mentors and lifelong friendships.  Indeed, as one of the first members and original Co-Chair of the Public Relations Committee since FALA New York’s inception, Robin was instrumental in establishing the FALA New York brand and lasting communications strategy.  Throughout her long battle with cancer, Robin remained committed to her duties at FALA New York.

OVERVIEW

NFALA Foundation scholarship awards are given to law students who demonstrate exceptional aptitude for the study of law and strong commitment to serve or contribute to the Filipino-American community as future leaders in the legal profession.  The Robin Mangaser Tizon Memorial Law Scholarship was established to honor Robin’s memory and supports talented law students who embody her spirit and commitment to service.  Each scholarship recipient will receive $800 to $1,000, depending on the number of recipients selected in a given year.  

ELIGIBILITY

NFALA Foundation scholarships are made available, on a competitive basis, to students who are enrolled in their Juris Doctor (J.D.), Master of Laws (LL.M.), or Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) at an accredited U.S. law school (Fall 2022 first time enrollees should submit a statement from your law school certifying that you are a law degree candidate enrolled at least part-time).  

The NFALA Foundation strongly encourages applications from applicants reflecting diverse cultural and experiential backgrounds, people with disabilities and of diverse ethnic, racial, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds, work experiences, national origins, sexual orientations and ages.

CRITERIA

The Robin Mangaser Tizon Memorial Law Scholarship is awarded on the basis of:

  1. Essay;
  2. Resume;
  3. Two (2) letters for recommendation (from persons not related to you);
  4. Official or unofficial copies of your law school transcript (or for an incoming first-year law student, proof of enrollment); and
  5. Any further submission showcasing the applicant’s creative talents, particularly in the field of visual arts or music (optional).

IMPORTANT DATES

April 15, 2022                The scholarship application is available

May 20, 2022        The application and supporting materials must be received by 5:00 PM Eastern Time

June 1, 2022         Scholarship Awardee is notified by this date

TBD         Scholarship presentation at the FALA NY annual dinner to be held in June.

INSTRUCTIONS

You may apply for the Robin Mangaser Tizon Memorial Law Scholarship by emailing a completed application (view here), along with supporting documents listed under Criteria, to RobinMangaserTizonScholarship@gmail.com  by 5:00 P.M. (Eastern) on May 20, 2022.  Applications must be submitted in one PDF file with the title “Robin Mangaser Tizon Scholarship Application – [Applicant Name]” that consists of all application materials.

Your essay should be no longer than 500 words.  Of all the parts of the application, your essay carries the greatest weight.  Please emphasize any experience you have that shows your commitment to serving the Filipino- American community, as well as your need for financial assistance.

Please submit two letters of recommendation (recommendation letters for law school admission or other programs and positions are acceptable).  It is not necessary to submit more than two recommendation letters.  If you submit more than two letters, the committee may only review the first two letters received.  Letters may be sealed or unsealed and sent directly by the recommender or by the applicant.  An application is not excluded from consideration if no letter of recommendation is provided, though it is highly recommended.

Creative submissions are optional only, but provide the applicant an opportunity to showcase creative talents.  Applicants may either a) submit a link to RobinMangaserTizonScholarship@gmail.com with the content showcasing the applicant’s creative talents and provide any necessary permissions to view, or b) request an FTP link via that email for the applicant to upload materials.  All creative works must be the applicant’s original work or composition, with recordings of performances or music compositions being no longer than five minutes and a maximum of 5 images (.jpg, .png, etc.) or original written works (maximum of 500 words).  

Please click here for application form.

NAPABA Celebrates American Bar Association 2022 Spirit of Excellence Award Honoree Kay H. Hodge


For Immediate Release:
 
Date: February 10, 2022
ContactMary Tablante, Associate Strategic Communications & Marketing Director

WASHINGTON –The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) celebrates Kay H. Hodge who will be honored today with the 2022 American Bar Association’s Spirit of Excellence Award. The Spirit of Excellence Award is an annual award that recognizes leaders who have achieved excellence and supported others within their legal careers.

“We extend our congratulations to Kay H. Hodge, who exemplifies brilliance in her field and NAPABA’s values of diversity, having empowered lawyers and communities of color throughout her five-decade career,” said A.B. Cruz III, acting NAPABA president. “Kay began her career when there were relatively few Asian American or women lawyers who could serve as role models for her, so she had to become that mentor for others. She has shattered ceilings at the state, local, and national bar levels, and continues to inspire us with her ongoing service and work in the community.”

Hodge has been an equity partner at the Boston law firm of Stoneman, Chandler & Miller LLP since 1982, where she represents public and private sector management in labor, employment, and employee relations matters. Hodge has been selected as a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and for membership in the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel.

Additionally, Hodge is the Massachusetts State Delegate to the American Bar Association House of Delegates, a past member of the ABA Board of Governors, and a past chair of the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity. She is also Chair of the ABA Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities and is a member of the Board of Directors, and past chair of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation. She is also a past President of the Massachusetts Bar Association and the National Conference of Bar Presidents.

The American Bar Association is also honoring Gabriel S. Galanda, Chief Justice Steven C. González, Justice Adrienne C. Nelson, and Hon. Carlos E. Moore with the 2022 Spirit of Excellence Award. The ceremony streamed virtually, on February 10 at 6:00 pm EST.

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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.

AABANY Congratulates Andy Hahn on Receiving of the 2021 NAPABA Trailblazer Award

The Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award, NAPABA’s premier lifetime honor, recognizes Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) attorneys who have spent their careers advocating for AAPIs within the legal profession, becoming pioneers in their field of practice.  This year, Andrew (“Andy”) T. Hahn Sr., one of the 2021 Trailblazer Award recipients, will join the ranks of those distinguished for their contributions.  

For Andy Hahn, leadership and service have always been integral components of his career path.  Andy has accumulated a plethora of impressive accolades and achievements over his career spanning more than three decades, such as: US Army JAG officer, successful commercial litigator, and President of NAPABA, AABANY, and KALAGNY.  

Andy has continually had to prove, both to himself and to others, that, as a son of Korean American immigrants, he could succeed in his career and find a place within American society as an Asian American.  

“Growing up as a kid…I stuck out like a sore thumb,” Andy recalls.  “I was subject to a lot of bullying and bigotry.”  

It was this resentment of ostracization (as well as a fascination with guns and explosives in his youth) that motivated Andy to enlist in the military.  He quickly found his niche in the armed forces, graduating as a Distinguished Military Graduate from Cornell University, with ambitions to pursue a full-time military career in the Special Forces.  Andy’s mother, disagreeing with his choice, instead encouraged him to aim for a career in law.  Fortunately, becoming a lawyer was Andy’s additional career interest.  After being granted a deferment from active duty, Andy completed his legal studies at Cornell Law School.

With a desire to meet more Asian lawyers with similar backgrounds as himself, Andy discovered AABANY early in his career.  As an AABANY member, he met Chris Chang, one of the founding members of AABANY and a former chair of the Judiciary Committee.  Chris became a valuable mentor to Andy as he explored the workings of the New York court system.

In the past, many Asian Americans practiced law within the transactional fields, such as corporate law and real estate law, and as Andy noted, “none of [the fields] which involved the adversarial process.”  In Andy’s view, language barriers and improved career prospects in transactional law contributed to the lack of Asian Americans within litigation.  As he gained litigation experience, Andy continued to stand out in becoming one of the first waves of AAPI attorneys to attain partnership at a big law firm in New York City.  

Andy remains a firm believer in the power of mentorship and guidance for those just starting out in their careers.  Recalling his experience meeting and mentoring law school students and graduates, Andy observed that many Asian Americans remain as “first generation Asian lawyers” within their families; these students or graduates could point to no one in their family who had been involved in the legal profession.  At a time when Asian American interest in law is increasing, creating more opportunities for mentorship becomes even more critical. 

Andy believes that anti-Asian hate remains the single greatest threat to the AAPI community and AAPI legal professionals today.  Until the onset of the pandemic Andy has never seen a high prevalence of anti-Asian hate during his decades of involvement with AABANY and NAPABA, but he notes that there always has been an “undercurrent” of perceiving Asian Americans as foreign.  Despite the widespread social movements that have catapulted issues of race and diversity into the national spotlight, Andy feels that big law firm and corporate commitments to diversity and inclusion remain “a lot of lip service.”   

“If you look at … the statistics, [attorneys of color] within law firms have not improved in the last two decades…. By the time you get to the leadership positions, it’s pretty much all white people.”  For Andy, who serves as Chief Diversity Officer at Hawkins, Delafield, and Wood LLP, his formula for maintaining diversity at his own law firm is simple: recruitment, retention, and promotion.  It’s a formula that organizations, such as AABANY, continue to advocate for.

In light of the challenges Asian Americans face, Andy observes positive changes within the Asian American community: “If there is any silver lining with some of this anti-Asian hate, it brings our community together…. We’ve learned … how to stand up for ourselves.”  Certainly, through his career as a litigator, leader, and advocate, Andy has never ceased to stand up for himself, the legal profession, and the Asian American community.  His achievements and accomplishments demonstrate his endless “vision, courage, and tenacity” needed to become a pioneer, as well as his willingness to break barriers and stereotypes in his career path.  

NAPABA will hold a reception on Friday evening, December 10, for all the Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award honorees at the Convention in Washington, D.C., and the awards will be presented at the Gala Dinner on Saturday evening. Please join AABANY in congratulating Andy Hahn on this well-deserved honor and recognition!

Congratulations to AABANY In-House Counsel Committee Co-Chair Grace Fu on Receiving NAPABA’s 2021 Best Under 40 Award

Every year, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (“NAPABA”) presents its Best Under 40 Awards to honor exceptional Asian American Pacific Islanders (“AAPI”) attorneys under the age of 40 from across the country who have excelled in their respective fields and have demonstrated a strong commitment to the AAPI community. Among those being recognized for this year’s award is Grace Fu, General Counsel of KAYAK/OpenTable, and a Co-Chair of AABANY’s In-House Counsel Committee. Grace has achieved much success as a senior executive and in-house leader in various companies such as Barneys New York, Tiger Management, and KAYAK/OpenTable. 

Grace has also demonstrated an exemplary commitment to the AAPI community. At Skadden, she was a co-lead of the Asian American Affinity Group Steering Committee, and was committed to increasing awareness of the Asian American experience at Skadden and within the legal profession. Additionally, as Co-chair of the In-House Counsel Committee at AABANY, Grace worked hard to recruit new members to the committee and to AABANY. She also currently serves as the UVA School of Law’s Dean’s Alumnae Council and the Alumni Advisory Council, where she has worked on DE&I initiatives, including AAPI recruiting.

Grace personally chose to become more deeply involved with AABANY because she wanted to gain new perspectives and be part of a community of people who have a collective interest in furthering the AAPI legal community. She is thankful for her experiences with AABANY, where she has had the opportunity to meet many talented lawyers and individuals who are passionate about the AAPI legal community. Grace also emphasizes the importance of engaging with organizations that also promote diversity beyond AAPI diversity, because she believes that diversity encompasses much more than simply race or ethnicity. 

When asked to give advice to students and aspiring lawyers, Grace emphasizes the importance of building strong relationships and networking with other professionals. Grace also believes that doing excellent work and thus building a solid reputation for oneself is a must. In terms of job searching advice, Grace encourages those still exploring careers to consider their strengths and interests while being open-minded about opportunities that present themselves. 

When asked what being nominated for the Best Under 40 Award means to her, Grace stated that she is truly flattered and surprised to have been recognized given that there are so many other outstanding potential candidates. She feels very honored to be able to represent the AAPI community because it is a community filled with so many accomplished professionals, and she is extraordinarily grateful for being awarded this honor. 

NAPABA’s National Convention takes place in Washington, D.C., this year, and Grace will be honored at a reception for the Best Under 40 honorees on the evening of December 9th, 2021 and she will be presented the award at the Gala Dinner on Saturday night, along with the other BU40 awardees. Please join AABANY in congratulating Grace on this well-deserved recognition and honor.

Congratulations to AABANY Board Director David S. Sohn on Receiving NAPABA’s 2021 Best Under 40 Award

This December, the Best Under 40 Award will be presented at the 2021 National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (“NAPABA”) Convention in Washington, D.C. to honor outstanding attorneys and organizations that have made an impact within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (“AAPI”) community. Every year, NAPABA recognizes talented AAPI attorneys under the age of forty from around the country who have achieved prominence and distinction in their fields of endeavor. Recipients are selected on the basis of two factors: first, demonstrated success and professionalism in the practice of law; and second, a commitment to the AAPI community. Among those being honored will be David Sohn, a Deputy Bureau Chief at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office and a valued member of AABANY’s Board of Directors, who has been named  one of NAPABA’s Best Under 40 for 2021.

A prosecutor, father, and husband, David has not only taken an exceptional career path but has also shown a continuous and inspiring dedication to the AAPI community. David has achieved the first criterion of consideration for this award, a demonstrated success and professionalism in the practice of law, in various ways. David attended The George Washington University where he studied international affairs and interned for government agencies throughout his undergraduate career. After graduating from The George Washington University, David went on to receive his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law and developed an interest in criminal law after taking the class in law school. Upon graduating, he briefly worked at a law firm that represented plaintiffs in an antitrust case. With the help of AABANY’s network, David later joined the Kings County District Attorney’s Office where he enjoys the process of finding out the truth and representing the interests of all constituents. As a prosecutor, David is able to find a sense of achieving justice for everyone which includes the defendants and the community and not just the victims. 

David has exemplified the second criterion for the award by demonstrating a commitment to the AAPI community through his leadership and passion outside of his professional pursuits. Since joining AABANY, David has become a dedicated driver of meaningful participation of AAPIs in the legal profession.  Over the years, he has held multiple leadership positions at the committee and board level. David joined AABANY where he planned many social events to facilitate networking and followed this trend at KALAGNY where he worked with and later led the gala-planning committee. David is vocal about the need for more government attorneys in the AAPI community. AAPI attorneys are prominent at entry-level positions but there is a need for more representation at supervisory levels. As Regional Governor at NAPABA, David has actively advocated for making the convention more affordable for government attorneys. 

David attributes much of his success to the mentors and people he has met along his journey. Early in his career, David adopted a “work hard” mentality. He eventually realized the importance of networking and asking for advice. David always aspired to work as a prosecutor but never received a response until he began to network through AABANY. When asked what advice he has for aspiring lawyers, David said his best recommendations are to listen to people’s successes, but more importantly, listen to people who share their failures. David provided an anecdote about how he got dropped after a round of interviews for jobs after his 3L year of law school, but remained positive. He states, “Be positive, work your ass off, don’t complain.” David strongly encourages law students and young attorneys to join bar associations like AABANY and to become active members of the legal community.  

Outside of his career, David and his family love to travel. His favorite places to visit are Seoul and Paris. David tends to go to Korea every year to see family and also enjoys going to the beaches on Jeju Island.

AABANY congratulates David on receiving NAPABA’s Best Under 40 Award. The Best Under 40 Award reception will be on December 9th at the 2021 NAPABA Convention. The award will be presented during NAPABA’s 33rd Anniversary Gala on December 11. 

Congratulations to AABANY President-Elect William Ng on Receiving NAPABA’s Best Under 40 Award

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (“NAPABA”) will be holding their Annual Convention this December in Washington, D.C. Among those being honored by NAPABA with their 2021 Best Under 40 Award will be William Ng, a shareholder at Littler Mendelson P.C. and the President-Elect of AABANY. Every year NAPABA selects a group of talented young Asian American and Pacific Islander (“AAPI”) attorneys who are under the age of 40 from across the United States. Recipients of the award are judged on two factors: first, excellence and professionalism in the field of law and second, a commitment to impacting the AAPI community for the better. Will has demonstrated both throughout his illustrious career. 

Will has fulfilled the first criteria of the award by demonstrating excellence in the legal profession in a variety of ways. After graduating from St. John’s University School of Law, Will began his career by working for the New York City Law Department’s Tort Division where he represented numerous city agencies including the police and fire departments in personal injury and civil rights cases. Will then transferred to the Labor and Employment Law Division, which provided him invaluable federal court litigation experience defending the City of New York, one of the largest public employers in the nation. In his current practice at Littler, Will focuses on defending private and public employers in employment litigation matters as well as wage and hour class actions. In addition to his litigation practice, Will regularly counsels employers on their workplace policies and practices for compliance with federal, state and local employment laws.

Will has fulfilled the second criteria of the award through his work in AABANY as well as working to help AAPI-owned companies in the hospitality, financial services, health care, retail, real estate, and transportation industries at Littler. Furthermore, Will has continued to drive AABANY’s mission and has held numerous leadership positions for the past 10 years within AABANY including founding the Labor and Employment Law Committee and serving as Co-Chair of the Young Lawyers, Government and Public Sector (now Government Service and Public Interest), and Student Outreach Committees. 

Will’s drive for professional excellence as well as support of meaningful participation by the AAPI community stems from his parents who owned a local business. As a native New Yorker, Will has been around local business owners throughout his life. Will saw the hardships that minority-owned businesses faced and believed that the best way he could contribute to the AAPI community was to give back through his work with AABANY and other nonprofit organizations. He is proud to represent a large number of AAPI local businesses as part of his regular practice. Most recently Will, as a panel member of AABANY’s Legal Referral and Information Service, has defended Chinatown businesses that have been sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These lawsuits have targeted landlords and small business owners in Chinatown and have the potential to shut down these local businesses. Will is committed to helping these merchants and property owners defend against these ADA lawsuits while also providing advice on how to comply with various laws and regulations.

When asked what advice he has for aspiring lawyers, Will responded that they should focus on the potential areas of law that might fit their interests and strengths but they should also take opportunities to meet people and learn about their work in industries and fields “that might not be in [their] comfort zone.” Will also highly recommends getting involved in organizations such as AABANY which he describes as an “umbrella group that is home to so many different people from all walks of life.” Will believes that being part of an organization like AABANY teaches you “how to interact with different people at different stages of their career.”

The BU40 Award will be presented on December 11 during the Gala Dinner at the NAPABA Convention. Please join AABANY in congratulating Will on this well-deserved honor and recognition.

AABANY Hosts its Annual Judges’ Reception on May 25 in Celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, the Asian American Bar Association of New York’s Judiciary Committee hosted its annual Judges’ Reception on Zoom. The reception honored newly inducted, elevated and retiring judges in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. 

Will Wang, Co-Chair of the Judiciary Committee, served as Master of Ceremonies and welcomed the judges and the attendees to the virtual reception. Last year’s event did not happen, due to COVID-19, and we were pleased to be able to host judges and attendees virtually via Zoom this year.

The following elevated judges were honored:

Hon. Shahabuddeen Ally, Supervising Judge, New York City Civil Court, New York County

Hon. Katheryn S. Paek, New York City Criminal Court, New York County

The following newly elected judges were honored:

Hon. Wyatt Gibbons, New York Supreme Court, Queens County

Hon. Philip T. Hom, New York Supreme Court, Queens County

Hon. Leigh K. Cheng, New York City Civil Court, Queens County

Hon. Hyun Chin Kim, County Court, Orange County

Hon. E. Grace Park, New York City Civil Court, New York County

Hon. Meredith Vacca, County Court, Monroe County 

Hon. John Z. Wang, New York City Civil Court, New York County

The following newly appointed judges were honored:

Hon. James R. Cho, United States Magistrate Judge, United States District Court, Eastern District of New York

Hon. Diane Gujarati, United States District Judge, United States District Court, Eastern District of New York

The reception also recognized and honored two judges who had retired from the bench:

Hon. Peter Tom, New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department

Hon. Doris Ling-Cohan, New York Supreme Court, Appellate Term, First Department

The honorees recognized at the event are trailblazers for Asian Americans in the judiciary. Of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians, Asians remain the least represented group in positions within the judiciary. Although Asians make up around 6% of the United States population, in 2020, they comprised less than 3% of federal judges. In the state of New York, although Asians make up 9% of the population, Asians represent a mere 2% of state judges. That number raises even more concern when we consider that Asians account for some 14% of the population in New York City, and Manhattan’s Chinatown is literally right around the corner from State and Federal courthouses. 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.

In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, the Judiciary Committee also held a short trivia game where participants would answer questions about the history of Asian American Pacific Islanders in the United States. Questions included: What was the purpose of the Chinese Exclusion Act? Which President signed the joint resolution commemorating APA Heritage Month? What was the reason for boycotting Miss Saigon on Broadway? The winners, who each answered nine out of the ten questions correctly, were Joseb Gim, AABANY Prosecutors’ Committee Co-Chair; L. Austin D’Souza, AABANY Judiciary Committee member and SABANY President-Elect; and the Hon. Doris Ling-Cohan, an AABANY Founding Board Member and the AABANY Trailblazer Award honoree from the 2020 Fall Conference. The winners received buttons which had been created to raise funds for AABANY’s Pro Bono Clinic, inscribed with the words “One Humanity against the Virus.”

Congratulations to all the judges who were recognized and honored at this year’s Judges’ Reception, and thanks to everyone who joined us for this event. 

To learn more about AABANY’s Judiciary Committee and its work, click here.

The Asian Columbia Alumni Association Honors Hyung Bak at the Third Annual Hong Yen Chang Award Ceremony

On May 20, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY), along with the Asian Columbia Alumni Association (ACAA), Columbia Law School Association, and the Korean American Lawyers of Greater New York (KALAGNY), co-sponsored the Third Annual Hong Yen Chang Award Ceremony to honor Hyung Bak, Columbia Law School alumnus and General Counsel at Warby Parker.

The Annual Hong Yen Chang Award Ceremony is held in honor of the first known Chinese-American lawyer, Hong Yen Chang (1860-1926). Chang was, himself, a graduate of Columbia Law School and graduated with honors. He was recommended to bar admission, but was prevented from practicing in New York state because he was not a citizen. He brought suit and the New York Supreme Court ruled in his favor, licensing him to practice in New York in 1888. Chang then moved to California, hoping to be admitted to practice in the state but was rejected in 1890 due to the Chinese Exclusion Act. In 2015, more than a century later, the California Supreme Court admitted Chang to the California Bar. In May 2014, AABANY awarded Chang posthumous membership in the association, in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month. Chang was a trailblazer in the legal profession for all Asian Americans who came after him. The Hong Yen Chang Award is thus presented to Columbia alumni who embody Chang’s pioneering spirit and serve as role models and leaders in both their workplace and their communities.

This year’s award recipient, Hyung Bak, is the first lawyer in his immigrant family. As he was growing up, Hyung was all too aware of being “other” at school and at his workplace. He recounted how he was forced to develop a thick skin and persevere despite the comments and discrimination he faced. Hyung also described how he was often overlooked for networking functions, because of his race and the passive stereotypes associated with it. He also emphasized the importance of “claim[ing] your space at the table” as an Asian American to counteract these stereotypes and be heard. Now, Hyung works as General Counsel at Warby Parker, and is a leader in raising awareness surrounding the discrimination Asian Americans face daily. Hyung has led and participated in a number of different forums at Warby Parker about race and diversity, anti-Asian violence, bystander intervention, and many other topics in order to open up the conversation and create a safe space for individuals to discuss these issues. Hyung, through Warby Parker, has also been involved in initiatives to give back to businesses owned by people of color and to increase diverse representation in a number of different fields.

AABANY congratulates Hyung for this well-deserved honor and acknowledges his role as a leader in the Asian American community.

NAPABA is Proud to Congratulate Past President John C. Yang

2021 ABA Spirit of Excellence Award Honoree

President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC and NAPABA Past President John C. Yang is among the five honorees of the American Bar Association’s 2021 Spirit of Excellence Award. NAPABA proudly congratulates John for his illustrious accomplishments in every facet of the legal profession and for championing the Asian American & Pacific Islander community.

The Spirit of Excellence Award celebrates the efforts and accomplishments of lawyers who work to promote a more racially and ethnically diverse legal profession. The awards are presented to lawyers who excel in their professional settings; who personify excellence on the national, state, or local level; and who have demonstrated a commitment to racial and ethnic diversity in the law.

John has achieved professional excellence in his wide-ranging career that has spanned four different practice settings. He has served as partner at a law firm practice in Washington, DC; led as a Director of Legal affairs at a Fortune 200 company in Shanghai, China; served as a Senior Advisor within the Obama Administration; and most recently, directs the organizational efforts to fight for civil rights and empowering Asian Americans to create a more just America at the Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.

At each stage of John’s career, he has served as a leader, role model, and mentor to countless racially and ethnically diverse individuals, helping to guide many promising lawyers’ careers. John has tirelessly promoted and supported attorneys who were interested in pursuing a federal judgeship, resulting in the nomination and confirmation of more than 25 Asian American Article III judges. His work has also opened doors for attorneys interested in serving in presidential administrations.

John’s advocacy has reached far beyond the Asian American & Pacific Islander community. In addition to his leadership roles within NAPABA, John has served as Chair of the Minority Caucus of the ABA House of Delegates where he worked closely with bars of color to advance distinct and unifying agenda items and resolutions and he has served on the ABA Commission on Racial & Ethnic Diversity. Present day, John serves on the Executive Committee of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC where he collaborates closely in coalition with other organizations representing the interests of minority groups.

John used his parents’ experiences as well as the injustices that he personally encountered as an immigrant to the United States from Taiwan to navigate his own path while blazing a trail for others to follow. NAPABA is proud to have supported John’s nomination as a Spirit of Excellence honoree.

Spirit of Excellence Ceremony

NAPABA invites you to join in celebration as John is recognized and honored at the ABA Spirit of Excellence Award Virtual Ceremony on February 18 at 5 PM ET. In addition to John, honorees include Barbara L. Creel, Román D. Hernández, Sherrilyn Ifill, and Lori E. Lightfoot. To register for the awards ceremony during the ABA Midyear Meeting, please click here.