BY DENISE TRAN
The Vietnamese American Bar Association of Washington (VABAW) is honored to have professor Wendy N. Duong of the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver serve as the keynote speaker at its Second Annual Banquet on Nov. 1. The theme for the Banquet is “Raising the Bar” and Duong has been doing just that all her life. She escaped to the United States after the fall of Saigon at the age of 16 and has been living the American Dream ever since. She is a pioneer and hers is a success story marked by many firsts.
Duong is devoted to her native country, fellow Americans and to the legal profession. Regarding her career path, she states, “To me, law is a beautiful end in itself – containing notions of freedom, liberty and justice for all. I will never give up working with the law. It is not just a day job.”
She graduated summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University and began her career in the public education sector. She quickly became the first Asian American woman appointed by the Houston Independent School District to an executive position at the age of 24. She later went on to receive a J.D. from the University of Houston Law School and an LL.M. from Harvard Law School. She has over 18 years of experience in corporate law and worked as a special trial attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission Office of General Counsel and as senior legal advisor for Mobil-Asia Pacific. She also served as an associate municipal judge and magistrate for the State of Texas and was honored by the American Bar Association in 1992 as the first Vietnamese American judge in the United States. She is currently teaching corporate law at the Sturm College of Law and is only one of a handful of Vietnamese Americans in the profession.
Apart from the law, Duong’s other passion is art. She is a talented painter and published author always in search of the right balance between law and literature. Duong’s first published novel, “Daughters of a River Huong,” is an epic fiction about a Vietnamese royal concubine and four generations of her descendents told behind a backdrop stretching from ancient Hue to Paris to Manhattan. It was selected as part of the recommended reading for Vietnamese Studies at Yale University.
Duong has also donated much of her time and resources for charitable causes in support of women, minorities, children and the poor. She founded a charity to help the underprivileged in Vietnam and has donated her art to help raise money for Katrina victims. She embodies the strength, character, wisdom and devotion of a Vietnamese American woman and VABAW is proud to welcome her to the banquet and to Seattle.
VABAW is pleased to present, for the first time, its Community Service Award recognizing an individual who has given time and talent generously in service to the community and has made a significant contribution in the lives of Vietnamese Americans in Washington. This year’s recipient of the award is Thao Tran of the Rainier Valley Community Development Fund. Formerly founding member of the Vietnamese American Economic Development Association (VAEDA), Tran has tirelessly worked to educate and ensure that the interests of Vietnamese Americans, especially the small business owner, are protected. He is passionate, dedicated and fearless. We are honored to recognize his achievements.
Thank you to our generous sponsors for making this Banquet possible: Cairncross & Hempelmann P.S., Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Cohen & Iaria, Perkins Coie LLP, Aoki Sakamoto Grant LLP, Helsell Fetterman LLP, and Preston Gates & Ellis LLP.
For tickets to VABAW’s Banquet on Nov. 1 at Women’s University Club of Seattle, 1105 Sixth Avenue at 5:30 p.m., please contact Thuy Nguyen Leeper at (206) 903-5462 or [email protected] www.vabaw.com.