2017 Justice in Action Awards Celebration

More than six hundred people attended AALDEF's Justice in Action Awards Gala on March 2, 2017 at PIER SIXTY, Chelsea Piers, in New York City. The two honorees were Marie Oh Huber, Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs, General Counsel, and Secretary at eBay Inc., and Deepa Iyer, civil rights activist and attorney. Sandra Leung, Executive VP and General Counsel at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, and Linda Sarsour, Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York, presented the awards. The emcees were Cindy Hsu, CBS 2 and WLNY 10/55 anchor and reporter, and Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer of New York City.

SandyMarieDeepaLindaLC.jpgThe evening began with a reception and silent auction. Because this year's event was closer to Mardi Gras than the traditional lunar new year, there was a special performance by a New Orleans Second Line jazz band.

New Orleans band-304LC.jpgAALDEF president Tommy Shi and AALDEF executive director Margaret Fung welcomed all of the law firms, corporations, community groups, and individuals for their generous support of the annual dinner. Fung gave an overview of recent legal victories, AALDEF's multilingual exit poll of Asian American voters in the 2016 elections, and advocacy to protect the civil rights of immigrants and communities of color.


Sandra Leung, Bristol Myers-Squibb general counsel and AALDEF board member presented the first Justice in Action Award to Marie Oh Huber. Leung noted that very few Asian American women serve as general counsels of Fortune 500 companies, so she and Huber had much in common to discuss at meetings and presentations across the country, including the critical importance of diversity at all levels of the corporate workplace. 

MarieSandy1217KZ.JPGHuber accepted the Justice in Action Award, noting that "We are not one race of well-educated high achievers...Our moms were not all tigers." She underscored the wide income disparities within the Asian American community and asked "Do we perpetuate the myth sometimes knowingly or unknowingly? Do we turn a blind eye to the disadvantaged among us? Are we missing opportunities to support one another? She urged the audience to support groups like AALDEF, which address the needs of low-income Asian immigrants and their families.

Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York and a national co-chair of the Women's March on Washington, presented the second Justice in Action Award to her friend and colleague, Deepa Iyer. Sarsour also spoke about the Asian American model minority myth:  "In that term "minority," I don't see weakness; I have been taught to see resilience and strength." She described working with Iyer to stop hate violence and the racial and religious profiling of South Asians, Arabs, and Muslims after 9/11, attending meetings, speaking at conferences, and organizing their communities to take action.


In accepting the Justice in Action Award, Deepa Iyer noted that she had worked with several AALDEF staff on a variety of civil rights issues since 9/11. Iyer, the founder of South Asian Americans Leading Together and author of We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future, stressed the importance of speaking out and taking action against injustice: "If people who are vulnerable put their bodies on the line, then those of us with some amount of privilege must pitch in."

The evening ended with emcees Sree Sreenivasan and Cindy Hsu thanking attendees for supporting AALDEF's work during these difficult times. 

Former 2014 Justice in Action Award recipient John Chou stood up to make a special pledge, calling on others to match his generous donation that evening and support AALDEF's important work in the years ahead.


The evening ended with a dessert buffet, conversations with friends and colleagues, and a tranquil view along the Hudson River.

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Special thanks to our Benefit Committee Co-Chairs:

Anand Agneshwar, Arnold & Porter LLP | Jasmine Ball, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP | Ian C. Ballon, Greenberg Traurig, LLP | Juan Cartagena, LatinoJustice | Javade Chaudhri, Jones Day | Kathy Hirata Chin, Cadwalader, Wickerham & Taft LLP | Ken Chin, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP | Kirby Chin, Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP| Margaret Cho | Art Chong | John G. Chou, AmerisourceBergen Corporation | Connie Chung, Television Journalist | A.B. Cruz III, USAA | Kunal Dogra, Proskauer Rose LLP | eBay Inc. | Ivan K. Fong, 3M Company | Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer US LLP | Faith E. Gay, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP | Suhana S. Han, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP | Glenn Harris, Center for Social Inclusion | Christopher Hockett, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP | David Henry Hwang | Sherrilyn Ifill, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. | Atif Khawaja, Kirkland & Ellis LLP | Richard K. Kim, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz | Harold Hongju Koh, Yale Law School | John W. Kuo, Varian Medical Systems | Mei Lin Kwan-Gett, Citigroup | Brett P. Lauring & Heidi C. Chen | Elizabeth Leckie, Allen & Overy LLP | Christine I. Lee, Jenner & Block LLP | Parkin Lee, Rockefeller Group | Sandra Leung, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company | Loida Nicolas Lewis, The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation | Don H. Liu, Target | Aasif Mandvi | Andre Marais, Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner, P.A. | Mira Nair | The New Press | Katie Niejadlik, Fish & Richardson P.C. | Yoko Ono | Tai H. Park, Park Jensen Bennett LLP | Deval L. Patrick, Former Governor of Massachusetts | Gimbels Pon & Sandra Leung | Suman Raghunathan, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) | Tawfiq S. Rangwala, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP | Teena-Ann V. Sankoorikal, Cravath, Swaine & Moore | Rinku Sen, Race Forward | Ayaz R. Shaikh, Sidley Austin LLP | Brian W. Song, BakerHostetler | Amy Suh, Edward and Amy Suh Foundation | George Takei | Time Warner Inc. | Rachel B. Tiven, Lambda Legal | Larry Tu, CBS | T.J. Tu, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP | Ko-Yung Tung, Morrison & Foerster LLP | Urvashi Vaid | Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation | BD Wong | Dino Wu, WilmerHale | Jennifer H. Wu, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP | Simone Wu, Choice Hotels International, Inc. | Dwight S. Yoo, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP | Andrew J. Yoon, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP | Phil Yu, Angry Asian Man | Fareed Zakaria, CNN

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Download our 2017 Justice in Action Awards Gala program, for more information about our honorees and a complete list of our dinner sponsors.


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