In the News: AABANY President and Members, Community Partners, and Sponsors Listed Among City & State’s Power of Diversity List of New York’s Top 100 Asian American Leaders

AABANY is excited to announce that President Terrence (Terry) Shen was featured in the 2021 Power of Diversity list of New York’s Top 100 Asian American Leaders published by City & State on July 19, 2021. Terry was recognized as 53rd on the list.

City & State wrote:

As partner at the law firm Kramer Levin, Terrence Shen represents New York’s top corporate interest clients like MVC Capital in its merger with Barings BDC, which represents more than $1.5 billion of assets. Shen is also the president of the Asian American Bar Association of New York. Under his leadership, the association released Know-Your-Rights literature, hosted public forums on rising anti-Asian hate crimes and organized candidate forums for New York’s district attorney races.

Congratulations and thank you to Terry for representing AABANY among New York’s most influential Asian American leaders.

In addition to Terry, several others featured on City & State’s list have worked with or been associated with AABANY, as members, community partners, or sponsors. We extend our congratulations to them as well.

AABANY has had the pleasure of working with Grace Meng, number one on City & State’s list and New York’s first Asian American member of Congress. At the forefront of fighting anti-Asian hate by spearheading COVID-19 hate crimes legislation, she was a speaker at AABANY’s press conference following the release of our anti-Asian violence report A Rising Tide of Hate and Violence against Asian Americans in New York During COVID-19: Impact, Causes, Solutions in February.

Among the others in the top 10, AABANY has worked with Ron Kim (2), State Assembly Member; John Liu (3), State Senator and first Asian American to serve on the City Council; and Margaret Chin (9), New York City Council Member.

AABANY also congratulates:

  • Sandra Ung (16), New York City Council Primary Winner for District 20 and former AABANY treasurer;
  • Shekar Krishnan (16), New York City Council Primary Winner for District 25 and former AABANY member;
  • Frank Wu (23), President of Queens College, co-author of our most performed trial reenactment, Building Our Legacy: The Murder of Vincent Chin, honoree at the 2021 Virtual Gala, and author of the foreword to our anti-Asian violence report;
  • Carmelyn Malalis (28), Chair of the New York City Commission on Human Rights and plenary session speaker at our Fall Conference last year;
  • Faiza Saeed (34), a Presiding Partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, a Gold Sponsor of AABANY for many years;
  • John Park (35), Executive Director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action, one of our longtime community partners;
  • Margaret Fung (38), Co-founder and Executive Director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, one of our longtime community partners;
  • Preet Bharara (52), as the first AAPI United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, a regular speaker at our annual Prosecutors Reception and an honoree at our Annual Dinner in 2015;
  • My Chi To (54), Executive Deputy Superintendent of the Insurance Division at the New York State Department of Financial Services and former AABANY member;
  • Ruchi Shah (65), President of SABANY, a sister bar association and longtime collaborator with AABANY;
  • Justin Yu (80), Chair of the New York Chinese Chamber of Commerce, an AABANY partner of many years for our walk-in Pro Bono Clinic; and
  • Thomas and Jill Sung (88), Chair and President/CEO, respectively, of Abacus Federal Savings Bank. Thomas’s daughter and Jill’s sister, Vera, is currently an AABANY member.

AABANY is privileged and honored to have worked closely with so many of New York’s most influential AAPI leaders. Congratulations to everyone who made the list, and we look forward to continuing our collaborations and partnerships in the future.

The full City & State article can be found here, starting on page 17.

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.

AABANY Member Profile: Vincent T. Chang Becomes First AAPI President of NYCLA

Vincent T. Chang, active member of AABANY since 2000 and former AABANY President in 2007, was inducted as the first Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) President of the New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA) on May 28, 2021. In his new role, Vince is prepared to lead NYCLA in supporting diverse communities, reaching out to more young attorneys and law students, and closing the justice gap to serve those in the community who are most in need.

Since high school, Vince gravitated towards pursuing a career in the legal profession. Involved in both his high school and college debate teams, Vince found overlapping aspects between debate and law. In presenting an argument, he noticed both involve research, assembly of evidence, and oral presentation. After graduating cum laude from Harvard Law School, he clerked for the Honorable Robert Krupansky of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit before joining Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in 1989. Being familiar with litigation from his experience in debate and serving as a judicial clerk in a Federal appellate court, Vince chose to practice in litigation. Currently, Vince is a Litigation Partner at Wollmuth Maher & Deutsch LLP in New York specializing in complex commercial litigation matters in the financial industry, including investment banking, hedge funds, and mortgage backed securities.

Outside of his work at the law firm, Vince is an active member of numerous bar associations and organizations, and has served and continues to serve in various leadership positions. To name a few, Vince previously served on the New York State Bar Association Committee of Bar Leaders, on the Board of Directors at Legal Services NYC, and is currently the Vice President of the Asian American Law Fund of New York. Although he might be affectionately called a “Bar Junkie,” Vince did not participate in bar association work until later on in his career.

The first bar association Vince joined was AABANY, and he appreciated both the social and intellectual aspects of the association. He enjoyed the opportunity to learn about different areas of law while also being able to network and meet prominent lawyers. One of his fondest memories of serving as President of AABANY in 2007 was hosting the Annual Dinner because it was a rare event for 500 to 600 AAPI lawyers, including General Counsels and Judges, to all gather in the same room in New York City. This was especially significant because at the time there were at most 400 members in AABANY compared to the 1,500 members AABANY has now.

At AABANY, Vince also played a prominent role in organizing the AABANY Trial Reenactments. With a goal to educate lawyers and the public about the notable trials and cases in U.S. history involving AAPIs, Vince assisted Judge Denny Chin and Kathy Hirata Chin to develop scripts for the productions. Since 2007, Vince has starred as a cast member in numerous reenactments at the annual NAPABA conventions and at other events. He most recently played Fred Korematsu in the “Fred Korematsu and His Fight For Justice” reenactment in November 2019 at the NAPABA convention.

Today, Vince is the first AAPI President of NYCLA, which was the first bar association to admit women and lawyers of color into its membership. He views his role as both an honor and a serious responsibility—an honor because past presidents include esteemed individuals and a responsibility because of his duty to represent AAPIs and serve as a role model. At a time when diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the forefront of many bar associations’ and law firms’ missions, NYCLA plans to be more interactive with young lawyers, especially diverse attorneys, by reaching out to law schools, affinity bar groups, and law firms. Vince also plans for NYCLA to remain relevant on public policy issues and respond to them in a timely manner. He hopes that “taking positions that affect diverse communities will make them notice and realize NYCLA is on their side.”

A common theme of Vince’s work is the pursuit of justice to not only improve the legal profession, but to also improve the quality of legal representation for individuals in the community. He has served on the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary to review federal judicial nominees; sat on a NYCLA panel at a public hearing to address the impact of budget cuts on the Judiciary; served on the Disciplinary Committee for the First Department to prosecute disciplinary complaints against lawyers in Manhattan; and worked on other initiatives to minimize the justice gap. Vince plans to continue working on this at NYCLA as “access to justice is a hallmark of what bar associations and NYCLA are aiming for.” One program NYCLA has planned is to support attorneys who represent indigent persons through the Assigned Counsel Plan (18b). Under the proposed program, by increasing the rate at which assigned counsel are paid, there will hopefully be an increase of lawyers interested in doing 18b work, which will further decrease the access-to-justice gap. NYCLA also hopes to revive their Special Masters Program to provide an opportunity for young attorneys to gain experience working with the court system, and to close the gap between court workload and staff gap. At NYCLA’s AAPI Heritage Month Celebration on June 2nd, Vince vowed to continue to uphold NYCLA’s focus on sustaining the rule of law including the importance of practicing diversity, equity and inclusion in furtherance of fairness and justice for all.

Please join AABANY in congratulating Vince on becoming the first AAPI President of NYCLA and for doing all the work he does to support communities. We wish Vince great success in his vital new role as NYCLA President! To learn more about NYCLA, visit its website at https://www.nycla.org/. AABANY members who join NYCLA for the first time are eligible to receive 50% off their annual dues the first year and 25% off the second year. For more details, click here.

AABANY Co-Sponsors New York County Lawyers Association’s AAPI Heritage Month Celebration on June 2

On June 2, 2021, AABANY co-sponsored New York County Lawyers Association’s (NYCLA’s) AAPI Heritage Month Celebration. The event was hosted by NYCLA’s Asian Practice Committee which AABANY Board Member Margaret Ling co-chairs. Congresswoman Grace Meng was awarded the 2021 NYCLA AAPI Trailblazer Award for all of her civic duty to the AAPI Community. In her keynote speech, she stressed how important it was for all of us to continue to work together and educate others about anti-Asian hate and racism. Attendees applauded the Congresswoman for her dedication and hard work in co-authoring the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and securing its passage. Those in attendance also applauded the installation of Vincent Chang, the first AAPI President of NYCLA. He vowed to continue to uphold NYCLA’s focus on sustaining the rule of law including the importance of practicing diversity, equity and inclusion in furtherance of fairness and justice for all.

Congratulations to Congresswoman Meng on her award, and we wish Vince much success during his tenure as NYCLA President.

In the News: Judge James Cho and President Terry Shen in NYLJ

AABANY President Terry Shen was quoted in a New York Law Journal article published on April 6, 2021 titled “Former Federal Prosecutor Named US Magistrate Judge in Brooklyn.” The article highlights AABANY Past President James Cho, who was sworn in on Monday, April 5 as the Eastern District of New York’s newest magistrate judge and the district’s first Korean American judge. 

In the article, Terry Shen was quoted praising the appointment as “another important step” toward more diversity on the bench. Speaking more about Judge Cho, Terry said: “In his time as president of AABANY, Judge Cho displayed a combination of insightful leadership, work ethic, and commitment to public service that will undoubtedly equip him to be an exceptional federal judge. We congratulate Mr. Cho on this outstanding achievement.” 

To read the full article on Law.com, please click here (subscription may be required).

Congratulations to AABANY Leader Eugene Kim, Assistant Editor for Book on 50 Asian Life Stories from Around the World

Eugene Kim, Vice-Chair of AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee, is one of the editors of the recently published book 50 People. 50 Stories. I AM ASIAN. by Asian & Loud, Kevin Wang (Editor), and Loretta M. Cheung (Editor). The book is a collection of 50 uncensored life stories written by 50 Asian authors from around the world representing different ages, careers, and perspectives.

Eugene joined the project at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic after coming across the I AM ASIAN page on social media. He became interested in the project because he grew up around Asians who did not feel that they fit the model minority myth. Eugene believed the theme of the book, figuring out and being comfortable with our place and identity, was important to share. People with privilege often get to dictate the narrative, but this book was providing a platform for Asians around the world to share their story.

As a public defender with the Legal Aid Society, Eugene did not have the time to write his own story, so he joined the project as an editor. He was assigned a set number of authors’ stories to edit and he finished in August 2020. Speaking about the book, Eugene said, “The beauty of 50 different stories is that each story is unique. And although some stories are different from others (i.e. an Asian rapper, athletes, and growing up in foster care), there are some stories that may seem similar. However, even the ones that read similarly to others, they are still original in their own way, so there is definitely something in the book for every reader.”

Please join AABANY in congratulating Eugene on his creative work. 50 People. 50 Stories. I AM ASIAN. is available in print and electronically. To view the book on Goodreads, click here.

NAPABA Congratulates Rob Bonta on Nomination as California Attorney General

For Immediate Release: Date: March 18, 2021

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) celebrates the nomination of California Assemblymember Rob Bonta to be the state’s next attorney general. Bonta will be the first Filipino American to hold the position. In 2015, Bonta received NAPABA’s prestigious Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award for his outstanding achievements, commitment, and leadership in paving the way for the advancement of other Asian Pacific American attorneys.

“We congratulate Assemblymember Rob Bonta on his historic nomination and thank Governor Newsom for his selection. Attorney General Designate Bonta embodies the best of our community,” said A.B. Cruz III, president of NAPABA. “The son of AAPI civil rights activists, Attorney General Designate Bonta has spent his career fighting for justice and representation for people of color. As the first Filipino assemblymember in California, Attorney General Designate Bonta passed major reforms, including strengthening hate crime laws to protect communities like ours. With the increasing prevalence of hate incidents against AAPIs, we are confident that Attorney General Designate Bonta will ensure that these disturbing incidences are quickly investigated and prosecuted.”

Bonta has served extensively in the public sector. Prior to being elected as assemblymember, he was Deputy City Attorney of San Francisco. Bonta clerked for Judge Alvin Thompson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. He is a graduate of Yale University, Oxford University and Yale Law School.

We thank Governor Newsom for his nomination.

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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. 

Todd Kim Nominated Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources at the U.S. Department of Justice

For Immediate Release: Date: March 15, 2021

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden nominated Todd Kim as Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources at the U.S. Department of Justice. If confirmed, Kim will be the first AAPI to lead this division.

“NAPABA offers its sincerest congratulations to Todd Kim on his nomination to lead the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice,” said A.B. Cruz III, president of NAPABA. “Todd is a talented and accomplished attorney who has extensive litigation experience of high-profile matters of national significance, including winning appeals with the U.S. Supreme Court and across appellate and state supreme courts. NAPABA applauds the Biden-Harris administration on their commitment to diversity with the nomination of Todd, and urges the Senate to confirm him as Assistant Attorney General.”

Todd Kim currently serves as the Deputy General Counsel for Litigation, Regulation, and Enforcement at the U.S. Department of Energy, and previously served as the first Solicitor General of the District of Columbia, and as an appellate attorney with the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Kim was a partner at Reed Smith and clerked for Judge Judith Rogers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  He received his A.B. with honors from Harvard College and his J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School.

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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.

Pro Bono and Community Service Committee Presented with Certificate of Commendation at NYS Senators’ Lunar New Year Virtual Celebration

New York State Senators John Liu (11th District, Queens), Andrew Gounardes (22nd District, Brooklyn), Brian Kavanagh (26th District, Manhattan) and Toby Stavisky (16th District, Queens) hosted a Lunar New Year virtual celebration Tuesday evening, February 16, featuring performances from AAPI youth and community honorees. The event was well-attended by city, state and federal elected officials, as well as community leaders and their organizations.

Senator Kavanagh presented May Wong, Esq., and Olympia Moy with a certificate of commendation to recognize the work of AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee in providing invaluable legal assistance to the AAPI community during the pandemic. May Wong and Olympia Moy were proud to accept the certificate on behalf of the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee. In their acceptance speech, they detailed the committee’s success in creating a one-day “in-person” clinic in July 2020 to assist tenants with paper applications for the COVID Rent Relief Program. When the COVID Rent Relief Program was extended to February 2021, law students volunteered again to establish a two-week remote hotline service to assist non-English speaking tenants apply via telephone. They were able to assist callers in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Spanish with the help of the committee’s community partners, Chinatown CLT and GOLES. May Wong and Olympia Moy concluded their speech by expressing gratitude towards the State for its effort in addressing the State’s housing and poverty crisis and strongly encouraged the State to “direct emergency financial relief to tenants and property owners in meaningful programs that can provide permanent rental assistance and increased access to rental subsidies.”

Thank you to all the attorney volunteers and law students who helped AABANY and the community, especially May Wong, William Lee, Karen Lin, Nicholas Loh, Xinyi Shen, and Olympia Moy.

Congratulations to the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee on this well-deserved recognition! To learn more about the Committee and all its wonderful work, go to probono.aabany.org. They are always looking for more volunteers so email them at clinic.volunteer@aabany.org if you can help.