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APABA President's Recap of 2023-24 Year


Dear friends,


With my tenure as APABA president drawing to a close, I am filled with profound gratitude for the privilege of serving alongside each of you this 2023-24 year.  I had a front row seat witnessing the dedication, passion, and collective impact of our community. 

In reflecting on the past year and our accomplishments, I am so proud of our APABA board and committee members who have gone above and beyond. It is perhaps apropos that we recall these highlights in May, a time when we celebrate our collective Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (AANHPI) heritage.


A few highlights of our year include: 


  • Community Outreach: Our commitment to community outreach has been unwavering, exemplified by the establishment of a pioneering mobile legal clinic, facilitating access to justice for diverse segments of the AANHPI community. Through initiatives such as our winter and Lunar New Year gift drives (in our 4th and 3rd years, respectively)  where we benefited over 500 low-income elders and immigrant families, as well as our collaboration with the Denver County Court to launch a pro bono program, we have made tangible strides in fostering inclusivity, empowerment, and support for those in need. Collaboration with our fellow AANHPI organizations is key to community outreach, and we have been proud to foster that collaboration through monthly dialogues with community leaders at our board meetings and our signature holiday reception, where we invited over 20 community organizations to share about their great work and how we can continue to partner for the benefit of the AANHPI community. Finally, we were proud to work alongside the Asian Pacific Development Center to organize a first-ever APABA self-defense workshop, to protect and empower our community in the aftermath of horrendous hate crimes and incidents against Asian Americans.

  • Communications: We revitalized our online presence and expanded our outreach efforts with a revamped website, new logo, creation of an APABA blog, and robust social media presence (APABA is now on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn!).

  • Continuing Legal Education (CLE)/Programs: This newly formed committee organized and/or collaborated on over 10 CLEs and programs offering insightful discussions on topics ranging from coalition building, the Denver mayoral election, and rebuilding Chinatowns, to explorations of cultural identity and belonging, DEI at the workplace, language justice, and storytelling with digital evidence. We were most proud of two town hall collaborations we organized with our sister bar, the Sam Cary Bar Association, on building solidarity between the Black and Asian communities and on how to continue initiatives of DEI in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision.

  • Gala: Despite our chosen venue shutting down a mere 30 days before the gala, our committee regrouped quickly and not only found a new venue in days but put on an  amazing event with record attendance, an inaugural silent auction, beautiful cultural performances, and inspiring words from our award recipients including our first-ever Organization of the Year award recipient, Asian Avenue Magazine. We gave out three student scholarships, and our Foundation is in the process of creating a fellowship for law students pursuing public interest or government internships.

  • Judicial Nominations: Our nominations committee has been at the forefront of advocacy, endorsing diverse candidates and fostering collaborations and programming with the Governor’s office and the bench to promote equity and representation on the bench. In all, last year, the committee endorsed over 20 applicants to the bench – a tremendous undertaking considering the work that goes into interviewing candidates, reviewing applications, and writing endorsements.

  • Membership: The cornerstone of APABA has always been our vibrant and engaging membership, and we were pleased to gain new members not just in Denver, but throughout greater Colorado including a number from Summit and El Paso counties. We brought together members with a diverse set of events that offered a “little something” for everyone. I have enjoyed meeting and getting to know so many new members at our monthly Breakfasts with the President, Lunar New Year celebrations, film festival outings, Dragon Boat, and many other social events. We were delighted to put on two celebratory receptions for two of our APABA trailblazers Fay Matsukage (recipient of the Colorado Bar Association’s Award of Merit) and Paul Chan (recipient of the Denver Bar Association Award of Merit).

  • Mentorship: The steadfast dedication of our mentorship committee has been instrumental in fostering professional growth and mentorship opportunities for law students and attorneys. This past year, we helped organize a federal walking tour and reception for our law students to get to know the federal bench and practitioners, and proudly facilitated 18 formal mentorship pairings (bringing us to a total of 59 mentorship pairings), not to mention the many informal mentoring relationships that have organically developed through APABA introductions!

  • Professional Development: This was the inaugural year of our Professional Development committee, which has been focused on strategic initiatives aimed at fostering career advancement and leadership development. Highlights thus far include a Roadblocks to Partnership for Diverse Attorneys panel that shed light on some of the hidden roadblocks that diverse attorneys face on their journey to the partnership level in private practice, as well as hosting of a successful in-house celebration and mixer that brought together over 50 in-house, government, and firm attorneys to network on how we can cultivate the success of diverse attorneys in the in-house and law firm space.

  • Public Policy / Legislative: Our commitment to advocacy and public policy has remained resolute, as we have actively engaged in efforts to protect the rights and interests of the APA community. We strongly opposed legislation that attempted to bar Asians from owning property in Colorado and that put restrictions on women’s reproductive rights. In addition, we were proud to serve as amici on briefs to the appellate courts - strengthening Batson protections to prevent the use of peremptory strikes on diverse jurors based on race and pushed for further protections on the anti-discrimination laws in areas of public accommodation.

  • Women's Legal Alliance: We established this committee this year, with the goal of championing the inclusion, empowerment, and advancement of AANHPI women within the legal profession. Our inaugural event, a captivating fireside chat featuring esteemed trailblazers, Judges Chelsea Malone and Nina Wang, showed us why AANHPI women in the legal profession and leadership ranks matter. Building upon this momentum, we curated a series of engaging social gatherings and impactful events designed to foster connections and support networks among APA women, with a deliberate emphasis on inclusivity that welcomed families and children. Through these initiatives, we endeavor to cultivate a vibrant community where AANHPI women thrive and lead with grace, resilience, and boundless potential.


As we look towards the future, I am excited to pass the baton on to Andrew Ho, who will undoubtedly do an amazing job as our next APABA president. I know APABA will continue to do great things to empower our community, to change the legal landscape for the better, and inspire future generations of lawyers. It has been honor being part of the APABA community and a privilege serving as your president.


 

Deborah Yim served as the 33rd president of APABA Colorado from 2023-24. She is the founder and managing attorney of the Denver-based Primera Law Group, a law firm specializing in employment law and civil rights litigation. Previously, Deborah served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California and as an attorney representing the U.S. Department of the Interior in employment litigation. Deborah currently co-chairs the City of Denver’s Immigrant and Refugee Commission and serves on the board of Colorado Asian Culture & Education Network and the Nathan Yip Foundation.

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