Cyndie M. Chang | President
Thanks to you, we had our largest convention in NAPABA history with close to 2,000 attendees in San Diego last November! The NAPABA Convention remains the largest Asian Pacific American legal gathering and we applaud your commitment to the organization, your fellow members, and our community. We were honored to have ABA President Linda Klein and leaders from our partner affinity bar associations in attendance and thank them for their continued support.
Highlights of our four-day Convention include the inaugural Women’s Leadership Workshop that provided practical skills training, a successful charity golf tournament to benefit the NAPABA Law Foundation, and a wide-array of dynamic and diverse panels and discussions led by subject matter experts.
The 28th Anniversary Gala featured actor and activist George Takei, who received NAPABA’s INSPIRE Award for his dedication to the Asian Pacific American community and inspiring countless others with his passion, courage, and creativity in pursuing justice, equity, and opportunity for all Americans. NAPABA is particularly proud to have given back to our host city by preparing toiletry kits for the homeless and making a $5,000 donation to the San Diego Rescue Mission. We are also proud to have presented another $100,000 check to the NAPABA Law Foundation to support law students and new lawyers.
Finally, congratulations to all the award winners recognized throughout the Convention and thanks to the many who contributed to the Convention planning process especially panelists, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and committees.
What a year 2016 has been! A few days after our convention, Americans elected a new President. Immediately after, NAPABA leaders were strategizing about what this meant to our members, constituent groups, affinity partners, Asian Pacific American nominees seeking appointments in the judiciary or administration, and our policy priorities. We were concerned about campaign rhetoric on issues such as immigration reform, Muslims, racial profiling, and misogyny. There was also the question of how receptive the current political climate would be to some of the policy priorities our organization champions.
As a result, these past few months have been extremely busy for NAPABA. We held townhalls soliciting feedback from committee chairs and the Leadership Advisory Council. The board also convened several special sessions to discuss long-term strategic planning and priorities for the organization.
With the change in administration, NAPABA maintains its role as a non-partisan, civil rights-oriented bar association. NAPABA has taken action by way of statements, letters, social media and amicus briefs condemning references to the Japanese American internment camps as a template for community registries based on religion, race, or ethnicity and condemning the President’s anti-immigrant Executive Orders. NAPABA joined in letters with other affinity bars concerning the President’s chief strategist selection, and asking the Senate Judicial Committee for sufficient time to review the record of the then-proposed Attorney General.
NAPABA also proudly compiled a hate crimes resource toolkit for wide distribution with other national affinity bar associations and spearheaded a statement with the same group denouncing hate crimes and asking congressional leadership to similarly denounce hate crimes. Further, NAPABA continues to channel pro bono efforts focused on hate crimes prevention/response.
We have been communicating with key coalition partners and affinity bar leaders to gather information about how other Asian Pacific American-serving groups and civil rights organizations are approaching the changes in the political climate, while being receptive to all members from all political parties. We have also been supporting members who are and may be considered for roles in the new administration.
NAPABA’s robust programming run year-round. We plan to continue efforts in the advancement of Asian Pacific American women in the profession; management of stress, anxiety, substance abuse, and mental health for ourselves and our clients; sharing inspiration and stories amongst our vibrant community; and advancement of opportunities and promotion of our outside counsel and inside counsel.
There are many ways to get involved with NAPABA with over 40 committees and networks, including the recently created sub-committee of partners in upper management of large law firms. These are excellent ways to stay connected with members throughout the year, including participating in NAPABA’s 2017 Lobby Day (Washington, D.C., May 23), our new ASCEND Leadership Training (Washington, D.C., May 24), and the Collaborative Bar Leadership Academy (Minneapolis, June 25-27).
Please remember my remarks at the NAPABA convention that I, you, and we are NAPABA. It is during times like this that we our reminded of our calling as an organization and as lawyers to protect Asian American concerns, civil rights, and the rule of law. We have been doing and will be doing great things for the next year.
With warm regards,
Cyndie M. Chang