Sandra Ung, Former AABANY Treasurer, Runs for City Council on Platform of Unity for the Flushing Community

Former AABANY Treasurer and longtime community advocate Sandra Ung has announced her candidacy for New York City Council for the upcoming 2021 election. Sandra, who has dedicated her life to serving the Queens community, hopes to use her extensive experience in and passion for law and public service to best support and represent the Flushing community.

Growing up, Sandra always knew she wanted to be a lawyer. “I’ve always believed that it’s important to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves,” she said in a recent interview. Sandra, who is ethnically Chinese, fled Cambodia during the genocide and immigrated to the United States when she was just seven years old. Soon after, she moved to Flushing, where she has called home ever since. But growing up as an immigrant presented many challenges.

“It’s not easy when you come to a country where you don’t know the language and have to start over,” she said. “But I quickly realized that we were not the only family on this path.” With this passion for community justice in mind, Sandra attended New York City public schools until graduating from Hunter College and then going to Columbia Law School to get her J.D. in 2001. She then worked at a law firm, where she learned detail-oriented writing and organizational skills that allowed her to really understand how to be a professional.

She then worked for Sanctuary For Families, a New York non-profit focused on helping victims of domestic violence and related forms of gender violence. Domestic violence is not regularly or openly talked about in the Asian American community, and survivors often find it difficult to talk to counselors and attorneys, especially when they look nothing like them. When working with organizations like Sanctuary for Families and the Korean American Family Service Center, Sandra saw her Asian American clients slowly open up to her, and she realized how important it is to have a support system that truly understands you and, therefore, your needs.

Now, one of Sandra’s platforms is to provide greater assistance for domestic violence victims. The pandemic has revealed what people in the field already know: domestic violence is a real, pressing issue in every community, and it is not addressed well enough. Therefore, true domestic violence advocacy requires not only highlighting and funding service providers, but also providing ways for survivors of domestic violence to physically move-out, with better housing solutions, and become financially independent from their abusers.

Sandra has worked for the New York State Assembly as a Special Assistant to the NYS Commissioner on Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation; a Legislative Assistant to former New York City Comptrollers Bill Thompson and John Liu; and Chief of Staff to former New York State Assemblyman Jimmy Meng. Currently, she is the Special Assistant to Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Queens), leading the congresswoman’s re-election campaigns and running Grace’s At the Table PAC, a political action committee dedicated to expanding women and minority representation in politics. As the eyes and ears on the ground while the congresswoman is in D.C., Sandra is proud to represent the immigrant community and support them through the same challenges she faced growing up. She especially enjoys running free workshops that teach public speaking and career-based skills to young women who lack access to this knowledge, like she did when she was also growing up in an immigrant family. “We really understand that if you want to have a seat at the table, you need the basic skill set to get you to that table in the first place,” she said.

While serving as AABANY’s Treasurer, Sandra felt empowered by the inclusivity that AABANY created for its community. Due to the breadth and diversity of its members and leaders, AABANY showed Sandra the importance of having strong representation of Asian Americans in leading legal, public interest, and government positions, where they will truly advocate for the communities they serve.

Therefore, after over a decade working for New York state and years of working on other people’s campaigns, Sandra feels ready to tackle and win her own. “The recent national and local elections have shown that we are more divided than ever,” she said. “So, in campaigning, it is especially important to me to set a positive tone.” She hopes to focus on creating unity within the Flushing community, building a broad coalition as strong as their neighborhood.

Now more than ever, Sandra looks up to her mother, who was born in Cambodia and forced to leave her family during the genocide. While working in a laundromat all her life, Sandra’s mother taught her about perseverance and hard work; her parents continue to inspire her to give back to the country that gave them everything they have.

“The people around me have given me the courage to try and do this,” she said. “I believe in my community, I believe in myself, and I believe that I will be the best person for this job.”

To learn more about Sandra’s campaign and find out how you can get involved, please visit sandrafornewyork.com

To hear more about the campaign from Sandra herself, please watch the video below.

To follow Sandra’s campaign on social media, please visit their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

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

In the News: TKC Reports on AABANY’s Upcoming Queens Pro Bono Clinic

The Korean Channel (TKC) News, New York and New Jersey’s Korean news channel, recently covered a press conference leading up to AABANY’s upcoming Pro Bono Clinic in Queens conducted in coordination with Sandra Ung, New York State Committeewoman. 

TKC News elaborated on how AABANY plans to provide free legal assistance to Asian-American community members who face significant language barriers and financial obstacles. The Queens Pro Bono Clinic will be held in Ms. Ung’s Flushing Office and will continue on a monthly basis until June. The upcoming March 17th Pro Bono Clinic will focus primarily on Housing Law, the April 15th Clinic on Immigration Law, the May 20th Clinic on Elder Law and Public Benefits, and the June 17th Clinic on Family/Matrimonial/Education Law. 

TKC News interviewed Ms. Ung who expressed her appreciation working with AABANY to provide free legal services through her office. Additionally, the channel expanded on the criminal defense experiences of Eugene Love Kim, a regular volunteer at AABANY’s Pro Bono Clinics, and touched on how his early life has spurred him to stand for his community. 

In an interview with TKC, Mr. Kim stressed that in times of increasing racial tensions because of the Coronavirus outbreak it is important for the members of the Asian-American community to stand in solidarity with one another. As someone who has had the privilege of becoming a lawyer, Mr. Kim believes that he and others like him have a responsibility to help all Asian Americans in need of legal services to provide a brighter future for later generations. The news coverage ends with a request for all viewers in need of services to call to make an appointment. 

Read more about the Queens Pro Bono Clinic in the press release.

PRESS RELEASE: ASIAN AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK TO EXPAND FREE LEGAL CLINIC TO QUEENS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH NEW YORK STATE COMMITTEEWOMAN SANDRA UNG

NEW YORK – March 5, 2020 – On the heels of its success in Manhattan and Brooklyn, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) is getting ready to expand its Pro Bono Legal Clinic to Queens. 

According to the 2010 Census, of the over one million people identified as Asian American in New York City, nearly half live in Queens.  Located in the heart of Flushing, the Queens Clinic will be available every third week of the month with a specific focus each month on housing, immigration, elder law, or family and matrimonial law. Interpreters in Chinese (including Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese), Korean, Japanese, and other languages will be available during the one-on-one consultation with a volunteer attorney. Karen Lin will be volunteering her time to serve as Coordinator of the Queens Clinic.

The Clinic will be held in collaboration with New York State Committeewoman Sandra Ung, a longtime resident of Queens and leading community advocate. Ms. Ung stated: “Having a free legal clinic in Queens, where there will be translators, gives an opportunity for those who simply do not know where to turn when encountering a legal problem, a place where their concerns can be heard.   This Pro Bono Legal Clinic in Queens is the first step in helping our community better understand their legal rights. Thank you to AABANY for this partnership and making this clinic available to our Flushing community.” 

“As members of the legal profession, our members have achieved their career goals through the struggles of their immigrant parents and grandparents,” states AABANY President Brian Song. “Now it’s time to give back. Many people in our neighborhoods do not have access to reliable information and assistance about legal processes and available legal resources. We can provide assistance in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner, so that the community understands their rights and remedies. Thank you to our committed volunteers.” 

AABANY’s Pro Bono Legal Clinic opened in 2015 to serve members of the Asian Pacific American community who have limited English proficiency (“LEP”) so that they can have meaningful access to justice. Mobilizing the skills and experience of AABANY’s diverse membership, the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee has spearheaded the Clinic’s effort in helping nearly 2,000 LEP individuals in the vast yet underserved Asian American community in New York through its Clinics in Manhattan’s Chinatown and Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhoods.   The Manhattan Clinic takes place on the second Wednesday of each month at the Community Room, 33 Bowery Street. The Brooklyn Clinic takes place on the fourth Thursday of every other month at A+ Academy, 6802 8th Avenue. (If a community member is interested in attending these Clinics, please contact judy.lee@aabany.org to double-check their dates and for any additional updates.)

The New York State Bar Association recently awarded the Pro Bono Legal Clinic with its prestigious New York State Bar Association Bar Leaders Innovation Award, in recognition of the impactful work done to provide legal assistance, community education programs, and outreach. AABANY’s theme for its upcoming fiscal year, “Stronger Together: Unity in Diversity,” is especially fitting as the Pro Bono Clinic expands to Queens, the most ethnically and diverse county in the United States, with 138 languages spoken throughout the borough.

The first Queens Clinic will be held on March 17 at the office of the New York State Committeewoman located at 135-15 40th Road, Flushing, New York 11354, on the topic of Housing Law. Subsequent Clinics will be held on the third Tuesday of each month, and the subsequent clinics already scheduled are on April 15 (Immigration Law); May 20 (Elder Law and Public Benefits); and June 17, 2020 (Family, Matrimonial, and Education Law). Community members seeking legal assistance must call to make an appointment at (347) 391-6463 (English and Chinese speakers), (516) 690-7724 (Korean language speakers), or (845) 450-0726 (Japanese language speakers). Appointments will be made based on availability.  Please note that walk-ins will not be permitted at the Queens Clinic.

For more information, please contact Yang Chen, AABANY Executive Director, at (646) 653-2168, 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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Women’s Committee Hosts First Breakfast Meeting in 2020

On January 16th, the Women’s Committee kicked off the new year with a breakfast meeting at Urbanspace Vanderbilt. Eight people attended the 8am meeting to discuss careers, professional development events, and New Year resolutions.  It was great meeting lawyers from different fields, lawyers in transition, and lawyers with a variety of skills including yoga training and image consulting! We encouraged our members to attend the Family Law Committee General Interest Meeting and the Brown Bag Lunch with Sandra Ung, Special Assistant to Congresswoman Grace Meng and Executive Director of At the Table PAC, on 2/25. Registration link coming soon! 

Thanks to everyone who attended. To learn more about the Women’s Commitee go to https://www.aabany.org/page/122

AABANY Presents: Legal Seminar for Small Businesses

On Friday, May 17, 2019, Sandra Ung, New York State Committee Woman, and Chris Kwok, AABANY Board Director, Issues Committee Chair and Asia Practice Committee Co-Chair, presented a legal seminar for small business owners at Flushing Library. The speakers were Tiffany Ma, Young & Ma, LLP, and William Ng, Littler Mendelson P.C., and they addressed a wide array of issues faced by small business owners in both Mandarin and English.

The discussion centered around how small business owners can take steps to make sure they comply with Federal, State, and City employment laws to avoid liability. In particular, the speakers addressed the minimum wage requirements, the importance of maintaining unemployment insurance, the prevention of anti-discrimination and anti-harassment claims, compliance with ADA accommodation requirements and the New York State Paid Family Leave Act.

There was serious discussion on the pressures small businesses face within the legal regulatory framework, with the additional language and cultural barriers faced by first generation immigrant business owners.

The event was also covered by the World Journal and Sing Tao Daily. To read more about the event from the World Journal, click here. To read more about the event from Sing Tao Daily, click here.

We thank Sandra Ung and Chris Kwok for organizing this information session. We also thank the speakers, Tiffany Ma and William Ng, for volunteering their time to address the concerns of small business owners.