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GOAABA had a busy February with a Lunar New Year Celebration on February 5-Year of the Pig and participated in the inaugural OCBA Race Judicata. Look forward to the OCBA 5k Race, Diversity and Inclusion Picnic and Jinya lunch in March!

GOAABA had a terrific January luncheon and lazer tag event! See you at our future events!

On November 1, 2018, GOAABA presented a complimentary CLE featuring guest speaker, A. Michelle Jernigan, Esq. of Upchurch Watson White & Max Mediation on the topic of: “Negotiating Around Through Minefields and Mediation.” Ms. Jernigan provided invaluable information on how to prepare for negotiations that occur in the mediation process for practicing attorneys. The CLE was hosted by United Against Poverty Orlando Center; attached is a picture of the event (from left to right: A. Michelle Jernigan, Esq., Michael Andriano-Esq, Ani Rodriguez-Newbern, Annie Kwong, Leia Leitner, Onchantho Am, and Jill Davis Simon.) And, on November 3, 2018, GOAABA hosted a family friendly event to volunteer at the United Against Poverty Center by providing groceries to people in need. Keeping along with the volunteering train, GOAABA also volunteered at the Youth Enrichment and Senior Services (“YESS”) Center where its members provided the elderly members of YESS with advice on wills, trust, and probate law. On November 5, 2018, the law firm of Nelson Mullin Broad & Cassel hosted GOAABA’s members at the Magic v. Cavalier’s game where the members got to enjoy each other’s companies, invited other members of voluntary bar associations to join, and it was a great night because the Magic won; attached are pictures from the event. To kick off the holiday season, on December 5, 2018, GOAABA had its Holiday Party at Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi, where many of its past presidents and previous board members caught up with the current members, and made donations and toys to IMPOWER, a non-profit mental health and child well-being organization; attached are pictures from the Holiday party. Next on tap, on December 9, 2018, GOAABA is having its holiday dinner with the Youth Empowerment and Support Services (“YESS”) Organization at Kobe where one of our Board Members, Avita Samaroo, Esq., will be presenting a CLE on auto accidents and how to use a smart phone at the event.                  

With an Alien Land Law Discussion at FAMU law school with moderator, Jessica Hew, and CRC members, Commissioner Belinda Keiser and Commissioner John Stemberger. Further, GOAABA teamed up with CFAWL to host a Paint Nite at Ember. In October, there was a very informative lunch discussion on financial planning basics with a financial planner and a community event with the Y.E.S.S. Center to discuss Wills, Probate, and Estate Planning issues with senior citizens in our community. GOAABA future events include: CLE “Negotiating Around and Through Minefields in Mediation” on November 1 by Michelle Jernigan, Esquire, volunteering on November 3 with United Against Poverty, and YESS Discussion with REACH high school students on Careers. December 5, 2018 at 6pm will be GOAABA’ s holiday party at Dragonfly.

  July 19, 2018: GOAABA would like to welcome the new Officers and Board of Directors: 2018-2019 Officers and Board of Directors: President: Annie Kwong; President-Elect: Leia Leitner; Treasurer: Onchantho Am; Secretary: Hazel Gumera; Board of Directors: Janice Chon; Teris Deitsch; Sarah Guo; Greg Maaswinkel; and Avita Samaroo; Immediate Past President: Vanessa Braga. We look forward to a strong and productive 2018-2019 GOAABA year. #Stronger Together

June 27, 2018: GOAABA welcomed Jeffrey Javiner, NAPABA representative, to discuss what resources NAPABA has to offer its affiliate members and to celebrate the end of a great 2017-2018 GOAABA year under leadership of Vanesa Braga.

June 6, 2018: The Past GOAABA Presidents gathered at Urban 40 to welcome in the new 2018-2019 President, Annie Kwong, and celebrate the outgoing 2017-2018 President, Vanessa Braga, for a great year

GOAABA would like to extend its gratitude for the hard work of the outgoing Officers and Board of Directors: 2017-2018 Officers and Board of Directors: President: Vanessa Braga President-Elect: Annie Kwong Treasurer: Shane Herbert Secretary: Leia Leitner Board of Directors: Lalitha Alladi Onchantho Am Hazel Gumera Greg Maaswinkel Ronald Mejia Thank you for your dedication over this past year!

GOAABA  joined forces with the Young Lawyers Section of the Orange County Bar Association and the Hispanic Bar Association of Central Florida to pool resources and make a joint donation to those who are suffering from the devastation resulting from Typhoon Haiyan. We are proud to announce that together, our organizations and private contributors donated a total of $4,000.00 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief efforts in the Philippines. The money will be used to provide assistance and aid to the victims and their families during the ongoing recovery effort.

By: Christine M. Ho, Esquire Chair of the Alien Land Law Committee, Greater Orlando Asian American Bar Association Tom, a Vietnamese restaurant owner, worked hard all of his life and saved up some money to buy a house. Every weekend, he shopped with his wife and two small children for their dream home in a suburb of Orlando. With the help of his realtor, he finally found the house. It had four bedrooms with a pool and a white picket fence. At closing, the seller said, “Wait a minute. I am not going to sell this house to you because Asians cannot legally own a house in Florida.” You would think the seller is crazy and is not telling you the truth. Shockingly, the seller is correct. In Florida, a little known law holds that people of Asian descent cannot own real estate in Florida! This law prohibiting Asians from owning real property is known as the “Alien Land Law” and was passed in 1926. The Alien Land Law targeted Asian immigrants and was intended to prevent them, as well as other immigrants, from owning real estate in the State of Florida. Many other states in the Union also passed similar alien land laws as a result of the increasing racism against Asian immigrants during the first quarter of the twentieth century. In 1913, California was the first state to pass an alien land law. California’s alien land law stemmed from the racial animosity against Japanese farmers who had recently moved to California and had started acquiring and owning agricultural land. By the end of World War II with anti-Asian sentiment at an all time high, Arizona, Washington, Louisiana, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Kansas, Wyoming, Utah, and Arkansas had all passed their own versions of the alien land law. Since that time, all of these states have repealed their alien land laws. Florida is the only state in the United States that has not repealed its Alien Land Law. Florida alone retains this discriminatory and racist law in its Constitution. Even more surprising is that the recent attempt to repeal Florida’s Alien Land Law failed. In November 2008, Florida voted on the proposed Amendment 1, which attempted to repeal Florida’s Alien Land Law. The ballot title was “Declaration of Rights,” and the text was as follows: Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to delete provisions authorizing the Legislature to regulate or prohibit the ownership, inheritance, disposition, and possession of real property by aliens ineligible for citizenship. Ultimately, Amendment 1 failed by a vote of 47.9% (3,369,894 votes) to 52.1% (3,669,812 votes). Sixty percent (60%) was required to pass the ballot measure. In hindsight, supporters of Amendment 1 have admitted that the language of Amendment 1, which contained the term “aliens ineligible for citizenship,” may have confused the public into believing that Amendment 1 concerned illegal immigration. Moreover, recent legislative efforts seeking to repeal the Alien Land Law in 2009 and 2010 have failed to get the issue on the ballot. Given its unusual and ambiguous name and the prior confusion of the Alien Land Law being related to illegal immigration, the public needs to become more informed and understand what the Alien Land Law is and the history behind it. In June 2010, the Greater Orlando Asian American Bar Association (“GOAABA”) received a grant from the Florida Bar Foundation in order to educate the public about Florida’s Alien Land Law. Jessica Hew, the President of GOAABA, stated, “GOAABA is grateful for the support of the Florida Bar Foundation in providing the grant funds needed to address the ‘Alien Land Law,’ a discriminatory provision contained within the Florida Constitution.” Ms. Hew further noted, “While the provision directly affects all aliens ineligible for citizenship, the provision also affects each Floridian by supporting discriminatory practices, similar to the ‘Jim Crow’ laws of the […]

Joseph J. Centeno (NAPABA President), Jessica Hew (GOAABA President-Elect), Kim Nguyen (Secretary), Donna Hung (Treasurer), Lisa Gong (Director), Angela Miller (Director), Christy Nash (Director), Sunny Hillary (Director) and Glenn Leong (GOAABA President)

Board of Directors for 2012-2013: Stephen Chong (Director), Donna Hung (Director), Jessica Hew (Immediate Past President), Sunny Hillary (President-Elect 2013-2014), Kim Nguyen (President), Lisa Gong (Treasurer), Denise Kim (Director) and Lemar Alejo (Director). Missing from picture: Wanda Reas (Secretary) and Don Nguyen (Director).

Florida’s Asian Pacific American population grew 71% from 266,256 (in 2000) to 454,821 (in 2010). This explosive growth since 2000 makes Florida one of the fastest-growing Asian populations in the United States. There are now Asian populations recorded in all 67 Florida counties. The largest Asian populations by county are: Broward County (56,795), Orange (56,581), Hillsborough (42,076), Miami-Dade (37,669) and Duval (35,901).

Board of Directors 2011-2012  Magistrate Linh Ison (far right) swears in the new Board of Directors for 2011-2012 at Terrace 390 on June 30, 2011 (L to R): Don Nguyen, Donna Hung, Stephen Chong, Lisa Gong, Sunny Hillary, Kim Nguyen and Jessica Hew. (missing from picture: Wanda Reas and Agnes Chau)   Four officers and three at-large directors raised their right hands on June 30, 2011, and were sworn in for the 2011-2012 term. General Magistrate Linh Ison recited the oath of office to new President Jessica Hew, President-Elect Kim Nguyen, Secretary Sunny Hillary, Treasurer Lisa Gong and Directors-At-Large Stephen Chong, Donna Hung and Don Nguyen. Two other Directors-At-Large who were not present, Agnes Chau and Wanda Reas, will be sworn in on another date. President Jessica Hew presented an appreciation plaque to outgoing former president Glenn Leong. The short ceremony at Terrace 390 in the Bank of America building was followed by free appetizers, drinks and a lot of sozializing among GOAABA members and guests. GOAABA’s fiscal year and most directors’ terms run from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012.  

Congratulations to GOAABA member, Stephen C.L. Chong, of Arnold, Matheny & Eagan, P.A., who has become President of the Central Florida Real Estate Council. Congratulations as well to GOAABA member, Angela M. Miller, of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A., who is the new President-Elect of the Central Florida Association of Women Lawyers (CFAWL). We also extend our best wishes to Christy Nash, who has resigned as a GOAABA Director. Christy and her husband, both lawyers, are relocating to Tampa to assume new legal positions.

Approximately 200 people attended the multi-bar happy hour & fundraiser on April 21, 2011, at Mojo’s at Church Street Station. GOAABA and four other voluntary bars (Hispanic Bar, Paul C. Perkins Bar, Central Florida Association of Women Lawyers and the Central Florida Gay & Lesbian Bar Association) combined their efforts and raised over $2,500 from the silent auction and door donations. In addition, the Young Lawyers Section pledged a matching contribution of $2,500. Therefore, GOAABA and the other four bar associations will be donating a total of $5,000 to the American Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Tsunami fund. GOAABA members and GOAABA law firms contributed approximately 2/3’s of all sponsorships. 100% of all funds raised at the April 21st fundraiser will go to the American Red Cross. For further information, contact Social Chair Lisa Gong at

    GOAABA participated in the March 4, 2011, Investiture of new Circuit Judges Mike Murphy, Donald A. Myers, Jr., and Keith F. White at the Orlando Marriott Downtown Hotel. GOAABA and twelve other voluntary bar associations each presented a ceremonial or token “welcome gift” to the newly appointed judges. GOAABA President Glenn Leong and President-Elect Jessica Hew, on behalf of GOAABA, presented black-framed “Year of the Rabbit” wall art. Judge Murphy, formerly a County Judge of six years, was Governor Charlie Crist’s last appointment before Crist left office. Circuit Judges Myers and White worked in private practice before their appointments to the bench.