NAPABA Celebrates the Confirmation of Lucy H. Koh to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

WASHINGTON- On Dec. 13, the U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Lucy H. Koh to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judge Koh is the first Korean American female federal appellate judge in the nation’s history.

“NAPABA congratulates Judge Koh on her historic confirmation to the Ninth Circuit to become the first Korean American female federal appellate judge in the United States,” said Sid Kanazawa, president of NAPABA. “Judge Koh is a devoted public servant, a trailblazer, a mentor to young lawyers, and a dear friend. She has and continues to make us so proud.

“Thank you, Senators Feinstein and Padilla for recommending Judge Koh. Thank you, President Biden for nominating her. And thank you Leader Schumer for announcing, during our annual NAPABA Convention, that Judge Koh would receive a floor vote.”

In 2010, Judge Koh made history, becoming the first Korean American federal district court judge when she was unanimously confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Prior to the federal bench, Judge Koh has served on the Superior Court of California, in the U.S. Department of Justice, as special counsel in the Office of Legislative Affairs, and as an assistant U.S. attorney. Her nomination had strong bi-partisan support, including from former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Judge Koh is a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School.

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.

NAPABA Celebrates the Confirmation of Judge Jinsook Ohta to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California and Judge Shalina D. Kumar to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

WASHINGTON – Sid Kanazawa, president of NAPABA, issued the following statement in response to the confirmations of Judge Jinsook Ohta to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California and Judge Shalina D. Kumar to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan:

“NAPABA congratulates Judge Ohta on her confirmation to become the first Asian American woman to serve as an Article III judge in the Southern District of California. She has a career in public service, serving as a judge on the California Superior Court and as a Supervising Deputy Attorney General in California. Judge Ohta has strong ties to the AAPI community as an active member of NAPABA and the Korean American Bar Association of San Diego. We thank Senators Feinstein and Padilla for recommending Judge Ohta.

“NAPABA congratulates Judge Kumar on her historic confirmation to the Eastern District of Michigan. She is the first Asian American to serve as an Article III judge on the federal courts in Michigan. Judge Kumar has extensive experience on the bench, serving as Chief Judge of the Oakland County Sixth Circuit Court in Michigan covering both civil and criminal matters. We thank Senators Stabenow and Peters for recommending Judge Kumar.

“December 2021 has been a historic month with a record four AAPI women judges confirmed by the Senate. We applaud Leader Schumer for his leadership and the Senate for swiftly confirming these nominees, and we thank President Biden for his commitment to diversifying the judiciary.”

Judge Ohta served as a Superior Court Judge for the Superior Court in San Diego County. Previously, she worked in the Consumer Protection Section of the California Attorney General’s Office as Supervising Deputy Attorney General. Judge Ohta clerked for the Honorable Barry Ted Moskowitz on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California and is a graduate of Yale University and New York University School of Law.

Judge Kumar has been on the bench since 2007, and over the years, has served as a presiding judge of the Adult Treatment Court, the Chairperson of the Oakland County Criminal Assignment Committee, the bench liaison to the Oakland County Bar Association Circuit Court Committee, a member of the Michigan State Bar Professionalism Committee, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Michigan Judges’ Association. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law.

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.

NAPABA Celebrates the Confirmation of Jennifer Sung to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate confirmed Jennifer Sung to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judge Sung is the first AAPI to serve on the Ninth Circuit in Oregon—a state where Asians are the fastest-growing group and now make up six percent of the state’s population.

“NAPABA congratulates Jennifer Sung on her historic confirmation to the Ninth Circuit to become the first AAPI to serve in Oregon,” said Sid Kanazawa, president of NAPABA. “Judge Sung has a long career serving as an advocate for AAPIs and workers across the nation. We are thankful to Leader Schumer for bringing her nomination for a floor vote, Senators Wyden and Merkley for recommending Judge Sung, and President Biden for nominating her.

“Today there are twelve AAPI federal appellate court judges out of 179 and there has never been a AAPI on the U.S. Supreme Court. The confirmation of Judge Sung highlights an important and urgent need for greater representation of our community on the courts.”

Judge Sung is a member of the Oregon Employment Relations Board and was previously an executive board member of the New York chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance. She was a partner at McKanna Bishop Joffe, LLP in Portland. Judge Sung is a graduate of Oberlin College and Yale Law School.

Judge Sung’s confirmation follows the confirmation of Judge Lucy H. Koh to the Ninth Circuit on Monday.

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.

NAPABA Celebrates the Historic Confirmation of Tana Lin to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington

On Oct. 21, the U.S. Senate confirmed Tana Lin to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. 

“NAPABA congratulates Tana Lin on her historic confirmation to become the first Asian American Article III district court judge in the state of Washington,” said A.B. Cruz III, president of NAPABA. “She is a devout public servant who has an exemplary legal career as a civil rights attorney and former public defender who’s enforced civil rights statutes, federal anti-discrimination laws, and a variety of other complex litigation matters.

“In addition to her impeccable qualifications, Judge Lin has a life experience that many in our community can relate to. She immigrated to the United States from Taiwan when she was three years old, worked her way through school, and is a leader in the community. Judge Lin has also served as a past board member of the Asian Bar Association of Washington, where she continues to be an active member.”

AAPIs represent nearly 10% of the population and constitute the largest community of color in the state of Washington. President Biden has nominated two AAPIs to the Federal courts in Washington State.

With 30 years of legal experience, Judge Lin has been named as a Super Lawyer for Washington for her practice at Keller Rohrback LLP. She has worked at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Michigan Poverty Law Program. Judge Lin is a graduate of the New York University School of Law and Cornell University. 

NAPABA commends President Biden for nominating Judge Lin to the bench and thanks Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell for their support of her nomination. Judge Lin’s confirmation increases the number of active AAPI Article III judges to 40 nationwide: 10 federal appellate court judges and 30 federal district court judges.


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.

NAPABA Congratulates Julie Su on her Confirmation to Become Deputy Secretary of Labor

WASHINGTON – NAPABA congratulates Julie Su on her confirmation to become Deputy Secretary of Labor. Ms. Su will be the first Asian American woman to serve as the Department of Labor’s second-in-command.

“Julie Su’s experience leading California’s labor department – the country’s largest in a state that ranks as the fifth largest economy in the world, makes her extraordinarily well-prepared to serve as Deputy Secretary of Labor,” said A.B. Cruz III, President of NAPABA. “NAPABA congratulates Julie Su and applauds the Senate on her well-deserved confirmation.”

In 2014, NAPABA honored Ms. Su with its prestigious Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award, which recognizes the outstanding achievements, commitment, and leadership of lawyers who have paved the way for the advancement of other Asian Pacific American attorneys. Ms. Su was recognized for her advocacy on behalf of the most vulnerable, poor, and disenfranchised workers, including for her efforts to hold garment manufacturers liable for exploiting slave labor.

Prior to her role as California Labor Secretary, Ms. Su was California Labor Commissioner, Litigation Director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, and has taught at UCLA Law School and Northeastern Law School. Ms. Su was a recipient of the 2019 American Bar Association’s Margaret Brent Award and a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius” Grant. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Stanford University.


The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the largest Asian Pacific American membership organization representing the interests of approximately 60,000 legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American 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 color in the legal profession.

NAPABA Congratulates Kiran Ahuja on her Confirmation to Become the First Asian American Woman to Lead OPM

For Immediate Release: Date: June 22, 2021

Contact: Edgar Chen, Policy Director

WASHINGTON – NAPABA congratulates Kiran Ahuja on her confirmation to become Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).  In this role, Ms. Ahuja will be the first Asian American woman to lead the federal government’s principal human resources agency. 

“Kiran Ahuja’s prior governmental experience as OPM’s Chief of Staff, as a career government lawyer at DOJ, and as Executive Director of the White House’s Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI, now the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders) make her ready to lead OPM and its diverse and talented workforce at a critical time,” said A.B. Cruz III, the President of NAPABA. “NAPABA congratulates Kiran Ahuja on her well-earned confirmation.”

In 2011, NAPABA honored Ms. Ahuja with its Women’s Leadership Award for her decades long efforts towards improving the lives of women of color in the United States and the advancement of AAPI women both as founding Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific Women’s Forum and as Executive Director of WHIAAPI.

Ms. Ahuja earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Spelman College and a law degree from the University of Georgia.  NAPABA applauded the nomination of Ms. Ahuja and had written to all Senators voicing support for her confirmation.

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the largest Asian Pacific American membership organization representing the interests of approximately 60,000 legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American 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 color in the legal profession.

NAPABA Statement on the Senate Confirmation of Vanita Gupta

For Immediate Release: Date: April 21, 2021

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) congratulates Vanita Gupta on her historic bipartisan confirmation by the Senate, to serve as Associate Attorney General in the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the third highest ranking position at the Department. She now becomes the most senior Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) leader at DOJ ever, and the first woman of color to serve as Associate Attorney General.

“NAPABA is thrilled that the Senate has confirmed Vanita Gupta to lead the DOJ’s efforts in the critical areas of civil rights, the environment, justice-oriented grant making, community policing, community relations, violence against women, tax enforcement, antitrust, and ensuring the rights of service members and veterans, among other responsibilities” said A. B. Cruz III, president of NAPABA. “Her tenure could not have come at a more pivotal time for so many populations of color and vulnerable people, especially as we face an onslaught of anti-Asian hate crimes and bias-motivated attacks against our communities.” 

NAPABA applauds President Biden for nominating Ms. Gupta to the position and the Senate for confirming her at this crucial time.

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of approximately 50,000 legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American 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 color in the legal profession.

NAPABA Congratulates Katherine Tai on Confirmation as U.S. Trade Representative

For Immediate Release: Date: March 18, 2021

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) celebrates Katherine Tai’s confirmation to be U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in the Biden-Harris administration. Tai is the first Asian American woman and woman of color to lead the agency.

“We congratulate Katherine Tai on her historic confirmation today,” said A.B. Cruz III, president of NAPABA. “Ambassador Tai’s confirmation by a 98 to 0 vote to lead the Biden-Harris administration’s trade policy shows that she is the most qualified person for this position. We look forward to Ambassador Tai serving as a voice for our community in the Cabinet, especially in the wake of increased acts of hate against Asian Americans.”

Tai formerly served as Chief Trade Counsel and Staff Director of the Trade Subcommittee in the Ways & Means Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, as Chief Counsel for China Trade Enforcement in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and clerked for Judge John D. Bates, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and Judge Deborah K. Chasanow, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

Tai is the first AAPI to be confirmed to serve in President Biden’s Cabinet. She was first nominated December 2020. NAPABA advocated for Ambassador Katherine Tai’s nomination. We thank President Biden and the Senate for nominating and confirming her.

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of approximately 50,000 legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American 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 color in the legal profession. 

AABANY CONGRATULATES JUDGE LILLIAN WAN ON HER HISTORIC APPOINTMENT AS THE FIRST ASIAN AMERICAN WOMAN TO SERVE ON THE NEW YORK COURT OF CLAIMS

NEW YORK – June 25, 2018- The Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”)
congratulates the Honorable Lillian Wan on being confirmed by the New York State Senate on
June 20, 2018, to sit as a judge on the New York Court of Claims, where she will rule on cases
involving claims against the state or its agencies. As Senator Jesse Hamilton (D-Brooklyn) stated
at the confirmation, Judge Wan will be “making history” by serving as the first Asian American
woman on the Court of Claims. 

Prior to her confirmation, Judge Wan served as a Judge on the Kings County Family Court after
being appointed in 2012 by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, where she heard a number of
complex cases pertaining to child custody, abuse, juvenile delinquency, and family offenses. She
also presided over “crossover youth” cases, which involve children who enter the juvenile justice
system after spending time in the state’s child welfare system or in foster care. 

Before being appointed to the bench, Judge Wan led a successful legal career as an experienced
trial attorney for the Administration for Children’s Services (“ACS”) in the Family Court Legal
Services Division, where she litigated cases on neglect and abuse. Judge Wan also served as a
Court Attorney-Referee in Kings County Surrogate’s Court, where she participated in settlement
conferences and held hearings related to guardianship, kinship, adoption, and estates. Judge Wan
received her B.A. from Binghamton University and her J.D. from Albany Law School, where she
served on the Albany Law Review and graduated within the top five of her class. 

Judge Wan is an active member of various organizations and committees dedicated to the
advancement of justice, including the Encourage Judicial Service Committee and the New York
State Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics. She currently serves as a board member for the
Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association and the New York State Family Court Judges Association,
and has served as the former Co-Chair of the Government and Public Sector (now the
Government and Public Interest) Committee for AABANY. Judge Wan is active within her local
community, taking part in outreach programs such as the National Association of Women Judges
“Color of Justice” Program, which aims to introduce students to the legal profession. 

“AABANY is immensely proud of Judge Wan. Her experience in the courtroom, compassion,
and unwavering dedication make her an unparalleled candidate to serve as a judge on the Court
of Claims,” said James Cho, President of AABANY. “Judge Wan’s confirmation also reminds us
of the progress we have made in advancing diversity and inclusion on the bench; Asian Pacific
Americans and other minority communities continue to be underrepresented on the bench, but
we are gratified to see that New York is appointing minority judges like Judge Wan. Her
appointment marks a historic and significant step forward in making the judiciary more diverse
and inclusive.” 

For more information, please contact Yang Chen, AABANY Executive Director, at (212) 332-
2478, or direct any inquiries to main@aabany.org. 

The Asian American Bar Association of New York is a professional membership organization of
attorneys concerned with issues affecting the Asian Pacific American community. Incorporated
in 1989, AABANY seeks not only to encourage the professional growth of its members but also
to advocate for the Asian Pacific American community as a whole. AABANY is a New York
regional affiliate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). 

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Congratulations to Hon. Lillian Wan, first Asian American woman in the New York State Court of Claims, confirmed by the New York State Senate on the evening of June 20, 2018. AABANY congratulates Judge Wan on this historic appointment. Please join us in wishing her every success in this next phase of Judge Wan’s judicial career.

Congratulations also to all the appointees confirmed by the New York State Senate on June 20:

  • JOEL M. COHEN 
  • JOHN R. HIGGITT 
  • FRANCIS A. KAHN III 
  • Hon. CHRIS ANN KELLEY 
  • DAVID L. LEWIS 
  • JAMES A. McCARTY, Jr. 
  • MICHELE SHARON RODNEY