We last left off this President's Message saga with a laundry list of events. There was so much going on that I couldn't even fit it into that double-length article last month. Fortunately for me, our move to an electronic format allows for this kind of flexibility.

First, a huge thank you to Kathie Gaines, who is stepping down from her role as Membership & Communications Manager to focus on other projects. Kathie has been of great help to Executive Director Mee Mee Wong for the last three years, and we will miss her valuable contributions. We are excited to welcome Karen Howard, our new Membership & Events Coordinator. Karen comes to us with an impressive background in marketing and customer service. Please give the office a call (to renew your membership if you're still lagging!) and say hello.

March Redux

I just wanted to mention one more event that capped off a truly inspiring First Quarter – the 40th Annual Marin Women's Hall of Fame Dinner where we learned about an amazing group of women doing amazing work locally, nationally, and internationally. One more round of congratulations to inductee MCBA Past President Wanden Treanor for being rightfully honored for her continuing service to the community!

April Activities

On April 11, I represented MCBA at the Minority Bar Coalition's Presidents' Reception. We had a good discussion not only about the projects for our various organizations, but ways in which we could provide mutual collaboration and cross-pollination of education, training, and events. I'm proud to report that MCBA is doing well, but I know we can grow bigger and do even more. I believe that the key to our continued trajectory of success is to partner with other organizations to deliver even better service to our members.

That same week, I attended a meeting of the Marin County Legal Professionals Association. I learned a lot more about this organization and it was a privilege and a pleasure to assist in the induction of their new Officers. I appreciated the reminder that our support staff shares our goals of professionalism and excellence in the legal field, and we could not do our jobs without them. MCBA and MCLPA can work together to meet everyone’s educational and employment needs, and of course legal secretaries, paralegals, and clerks are encouraged to join MCBA in our affiliate legal personnel category.

I enjoyed the Barristers Section's first mixer of the year at Marin Brewing Company – it was a pleasure to have a drink with some very nice folks. Special thanks to MCBA Board Member Supervisor Damon Connolly for being our special guest. One of the Barristers Section programs that should hopefully be of interest to a significant segment of our general members is our anticipated “Reverse Mentoring” initiative. We're calling on each of our Barristers to become a mentor to a more seasoned colleague on issues such as social media or changing workforce demographics. Veteran practitioners are free to offer traditional career mentorship advice in trade, but the focus is on having the newer lawyer in the position to teach. Let us know what topics interest you, and we'll find you a Barrister with the knowledge.

Capping off the month with our general membership meeting raising awareness about human trafficking (on Denim Day), I was very grateful that despite same-day emergencies for two of our original panelists, our Program Chair Barrett Schaefer and Moderator Anna Pletcher were able to pull together an informative and interesting presentation with our final panelists, who were just as fantastic. A huge thank you to the co-sponsor of the Meeting, Soroptimist International Marin, and to Gina Vucci and MCBA Past President Ed Berberian, who stepped in to join Federal Administrative Judge Marianna Warmee in an information-packed panel. Here is a link to the Human Trafficking Report referenced during the program.

May Musings

Turning to May, you won't want to miss our general membership meeting with Dr. Larry Brilliant at Fenix on May 24, or our Food from the Bar Kickoff Reception and Comedy Night at the Throckmorton Theatre on the May 30.

We will already be a week into Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIHM) by the time you read this. As a member of Marin Asian-American Public Local Employees (MAPLE), I was asked to co-emcee our May 4 program, so I was doing my assigned research into the origins and purpose of AAPIHM in preparation for some introductory remarks. I want to share with you some of the things I learned.

AAPIHM had humble beginnings as a mere Week back in the summer of 1977. Lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and the Senate introduced resolutions to proclaim a week within the first 10 days of May as Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week. History (in the form of website content found via Google searches) is a little unclear as to whether these resolutions were actively defeated or just neglected, but it was not until the next year that Joint Resolution 1007 was passed by both houses, then signed into law by President Carter:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President is hereby authorized and requested to issue a proclamation designating the 7-day period beginning May 4, 1979, as 'Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week' and calling upon the people of the United States, especially the educational community, to observe such week with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

Congress upped the ante in 1990, permitting the President to designate the entire month of May of 1990 for appropriate ceremonies, programs, and activities. In 1992, Congress formally designated May of each year as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, adding findings that the original enactment provided “an opportunity for the people of the United States to recognize the history, concerns, contributions, and achievements of Asian and Pacific Americans” and that “Asian and Pacific Americans have contributed significantly to the development of the arts, sciences, government, military, commerce, and education in the United States.”

The originally chosen week, May 4 through May 11, was designed to commemorate two milestones – the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869, to which Chinese workers contributed significantly. Some level of irony should be evident in the fact that there is another (in)famous date during that week which deserves some remembrance: the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act on May 6, 1882. Codifying discrimination and perpetuating prejudice is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the text of our laws still bear the artifacts. Did you know the United States Code still contains a chapter entitled “Exclusion of Chinese” followed by “The Cooly Trade”?

There is hope. President Carter's Presidential Proclamation about the first Resolution is pretty powerful, as have been many of the proclamations from the five presidents who followed. I was awaiting a proclamation from our current administration, and indeed it was duly issued on April 28, 2017. In the spirit of education and observance of AAPIHM, I would encourage you to click on these links and deepen your understanding of this important piece of American culture.