LOS ANGELES (March 21, 2011) – Karin Wang, vice-president of Programs and Communications at Asian Pacific American Legal Center, was honored Monday as the 2011 Woman of the Year for the 49thAssembly District.
California Assemblymember Mike Eng (D-49) selected Wang for the recognition, which will be given during an awards ceremony by the California State Assembly in Sacramento. The 49th Assembly District includes the cities of Alhambra, El Monte, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Gabriel, San Marino and South El Monte.
“It is with great honor that I selected Karin Wang as Woman of the Year,” said Assemblymember Eng. “Karin has a distinguished history of fighting for the rights of disadvantaged communities, including immigrants, limited English speakers, low-income families, and gays and lesbians.”
“We congratulate Karin on this well-deserved recognition. She has made an indelible mark on the AAPI community with her passionate and committed leadership in advancing justice,” said Stewart Kwoh, APALC executive director. “Our communities are better because of her leadership and passion.
“I look forward to even greater things to come from Karin,” he added. “Thank you to Assemblymember Mike Eng for this recognition and his leadership in the state.”
APALC, a member of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, is the nation’s largest legal and civil rights organization serving Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
Wang, a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, is a past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles County, past board member of the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association, and former chair of the State Bar’s Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services.
“Thank you to Assemblymember Mike Eng for this great honor,” said Wang. “Much of APALC’s work is rooted in the communities of the San Gabriel Valley, from naturalization services for aspiring U.S. citizens to leadership training programs for immigrant youth and parents to advocacy for the language and civil rights of new immigrants. It’s a privilege as a civil rights lawyer to represent the west San Gabriel Valley.”
Before her current position, Wang directed APALC’s immigrant rights project and helped file a landmark civil rights complaint against Los Angeles County on behalf of limited English speaking welfare recipients, leading to major reforms to the department’s services to immigrants and payment of $1.7 million in back benefits.
Wang also ran the first Los Angeles field office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights, enforcing federal civil rights laws across the Southwest and the Pacific.
Wang is active in local, state and national organizations that seek to improve the legal system for immigrants and low-income communities. She serves on the board of One Justice, which increases access to legal help by strengthening the legal infrastructure and partnerships; is a member of the State Bar’s Council on Access & Fairness; and is co-chair of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Pro Bono & Community Service Committee.
Since 2005, Wang also has been involved in the struggle for marriage equality in California. She is a founding and current Steering Committee member of API Equality-LA, leading the coalition’s media efforts against Prop 8 and helping to file several amicus briefs in the California Supreme Court in support of marriage equality, including one brief on behalf of 63 Asian American organizations.
Wang has been honored in the past by a number of community organizations for her leadership and activism, including KCET, Lambda Legal and NAPABA.