Outgoing APABA Colorado President Dennis Kaw speaks during the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Colorado's 20th anniversary celebration on April 8, 2010 in the Seawell Grand Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. (By Joe Nguyen/AsiaXpress.com)
APABA Colorado honors founders at 20th anniversary
Asian Pacific Bar Association of Colorado celebrates 13 original members at annual gala
By Joe Nguyen, AsiaXpress.com
April 14, 2010
The founding members of APABA Colorado
These are the names of the original 13 members of the organization
Woon Ki Lau
• Photo gallery from APABA Colorado's 20th anniversary dinner April 8, 2010
DENVER – In 1990, 13 young Asian-American attorneys came together and, with just $50 in their treasury, formed the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Colorado.
Twenty years later, APABA Colorado is more than 100 strong and its foundation helps provide scholarships to aspiring law students and donates thousands every year to various AAPI nonprofit organizations.
The 13 founding members were honored during APABA Colorado's 20th anniversary celebration on April 8 in the Seawell Grand Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
"The measure of success of any leader, particular a leader in the bar, isn't what they accomplished," outgoing APABA President Dennis Kaw said. "It's what they've enabled those who followed to achieve."
APABA Colorado, Kaw said, was started to provide a professional organization for AAPI lawyers "to provide mutual support for each other's professional development," as well as break down racial barriers and overcome the time period's status quo.
"These 13 attorneys ... as far as they could tell, they were the only 13 Asian attorneys in Colorado at the time," he said.
Denver County Court Judge Kerry Hada, one of the original 13, said he remembers the group's humble beginnings.
"We just literally started this with pot-luck dinners and (APABA Colorado's first President) Lucy Denson cooking a few meals and just putting what we have together," Hada said.
Kaw said the founding members have become more prominent in Colorado's law community with original members Denson and Paul Chan set to become presidents of the Colorado Women's Bar Association and Colorado Bar Association, respectively. It was from the groundwork of these founding members that have helped younger AAPI lawyers.
"These 13 original founders have become fairly well-known and significant figures in the Colorado legal community," he said. "And through their success, the current generation has been able to get benefits from that."
Kaw said that from the last census, Colorado had a population of 2.2 percent Asians. In contrast, only 0.9 percent of Colorado lawyers are of Asian descent.
"We realize that the challenges still remain," Kaw said. "There are barriers to be broken, there are challenges to be tackled."
As the organization moves forward, Kaw said the group plans on connecting more with the wider AAPI communities in addition to the work they do with the law community. Hada said he wants to see the group continue to build upon what they have already done.
"Hopefully we can continue to grow, continue to enjoy," Hada said. "That's one of the things we've always been, just enjoyed everything that's happened here."
For more information about the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Colorado, go to www.apaba-co.org.