It is wonderful to have the whole APABA-DC family here together. There are so many familiar faces. Can you believe we have 13 former APABA-DC Presidents who joined us today. The strong support from our board alumni network keeps us going. The time, effort, and care of the 42 boards that came before us have brought us where we are now, and we strive to continue our important work of serving the APA legal community in the nation’s capital.
Our work is not possible without the strong allyship with our affiliate and peer bar organizations. I thank the leaders of the D.C. Bar, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Hispanic Bar Association of D.C., and Women’s Bar Association of D.C. for joining us tonight. A long-time supporter of APABA-DC, Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby of the D.C. Court of Appeals, could not join us tonight, but she sends her greetings and congratulations to tonight's honorees.
When I first moved to D.C. seven years ago, I knew maybe five people in town. One Wednesday, I found myself at an APABA-DC happy hour. From there, I joined the board of its charitable foundation, AEF, and then the APABA-DC board. APABA-DC provided me with this community, and I am truly honored to lead the organization as the 41st president.
Our founding member Margaret Chao told me – back in 1981, there were a dozen government attorneys who gathered around at a bar and decided to incorporate as a non-profit organization. The charter stated that our mission includes “improv[ing] the quality of legal service to the Asian Pacific Americans”; “strengthen[ing] equal opportunities” for Asian Pacific Americans; and “provid[ing] support [for] the elimination of discrimination and prejudice against Asian Pacific Americans.” Seven years later, in 1988, APABA-DC leaders helped found the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. In 1993, APABA-DC founded its educational fund to give scholarships to law students pursuing career in public interest. In 1998, APABA-DC helped establish the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, APALRC, providing the first telephone hotline service that focused on addressing legal needs of APA residents in Washington, D.C.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the broader APA communities here and across the nation have faced hatred and violence. Even with no in-person events due to COVID, APABA-DC brought us together when we desperately needed a sense of community and belonging. I want to recognize Ms. Erica Lai, Ms. Ethel Badawi, and Ms. Yifang Zhao, who so ably led the organization through the pandemic and our transition to the fully in-person programming. Please give a round of applause to the three former APABA-DC presidents.
APABA-DC is stronger than ever. Our membership grew 50% compared to the pre-pandemic level. Our newsletters now reach nearly 2,000 registered contacts. With my sincere gratitude, I am happy to report that we broke the fundraising record this year, nearly doubling the previous record. I thank you for your support and being here. With the outpouring of support, we will continue the important work of helping our members advance their professional growth, being the voice for our community on important issues that matter to us, and providing educational programs in collaboration with our affiliates and peer bar organizations in and out of the region.
Finally, I would like to thank the colleagues from my firm, Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick, for joining me tonight and your support of my voluntary bar activities.
Now, I would like to invite Ambassador Katherine Tai, the Nineteenth United States Trade Representative, up to the stage for a fireside chat. Please welcome Ambassador Tai.