AALDEF Lunar New Year Friends & Family Reception

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AALDEF was thrilled to host our Lunar New Year Friends & Family Reception to kick off our 50th year and celebrate the very people who have protected and promoted the civil rights of Asian Americans for the past half century.

The Lunar New Year Friends and Family Reception was held on Monday, February 5, 2024 at The Tyger in Chinatown, New York. We were delighted to reunite and reminisce with staff alumni, former interns, and community partners, who filled the room with love and laughter.

"I was welcomed into the AALDEF family when I was an intern in 2007, and I was lucky enough to join as a fellow and as a staff attorney and get to learn from civil rights icons like Margaret Fung, and Stan Mark, and Ken Kimerling. But I was also lucky enough to get to grow up in this incredible, and I’m still growing up, in this incredible community of young Asian American activists,” said Bethany Li, legal director at AALDEF. “How many people get to grow up as an attorney with young Asian American activists as peers, who are progressive and passionate and amazing. We don't get to be in that type of environment. And that's just incredibly unique. And it's what Margaret has created in 50 years for AALDEF, and it's a legacy for the Asian American community, it’s a legacy for the Asian American movement."

"I came to Margaret with a proposal for a Skadden Fellow to start the South Asian Workers Rights Project. I don't think that had been done before. Margaret said yes—that was like the easiest interview ever,” said Chaumtoli Huq, former director of AALDEF’s South Asian Workers' Rights Project. “I want to give props to Margaret, because she knew how important it was to connect the broader pan-Asian community, particularly the growing South Asian community."

"AALDEF really started my career as a nonprofit public interest lawyer,” said Tito Sinha, former staff attorney at AALDEF, recounting his prison work with unfairly targeted Vietnamese kids and advocacy against hate violence targeting South Asians in New Jersey. “I was a summer intern, then a program associate, I went to law school, then Margaret and the staff had me back as an attorney for 2 years."

"AALDEF’s deep work on these issues of profound importance to Asian communities prepares AALDEF to rise to these occasions of crisis when we most need them,” said Ellen Somekawa, executive director at the Folk Arts Cultural Treasures Charter School, who is a leader in the fight against the 76er arena’s encroachment on Philadelphia’s historic Chinatown. “AALDEF now, through the work of Bethany and Annie and others, is supporting our fight in Chinatown for our very survival. And it's those same attributes of being there for the long term, being there proactively and being there in a very community minded way, being part of the organizing strategy and then bringing the excellent lawyering along with that."

Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate with us! And a special thanks to the alums who have been generous with their time and willing to share their experiences as a part of our ongoing storytelling efforts to mark our 50th year.