Mar. 9: Thomas S. Kim and Kal Penn to Receive 2022 Justice in Action Awards at AALDEF Lunar New Year Celebration

On Wednesday, March 9, at 6 pm ET, AALDEF will celebrate the Year of the Tiger at its Lunar New Year Celebration and present its 2022 Justice in Action Awards to Thomas S. Kim, Chief Legal Officer and Company Secretary at Thomson Reuters, and Kal Penn, actor and author.

The event co-emcees are Cindy Hsu, CBS2 News anchor and reporter, and Sree Sreenivasan. George Takei, 1992 Justice in Action Award recipient, will deliver a special message.

Co-emcees Sree Sreenivasan and Cindy Hsu. Photo by Lia Chang

We begin 2022 with hope for many positive changes. We will continue to provide critical legal services to the Asian American community by counseling victims of anti-Asian violence and harassment; advocating for fair immigration laws; litigating cases to protect voting rights; and creating new redistricting maps to ensure fair political representation for Asian Americans.

This year’s gala will be their first-ever hybrid event – with an in-person reception at The Lighthouse, Chelsea Piers, NYC and a live-streamed program to allow guests to join with a simple click from anywhere in the world!

Please click here to register for the livestream.

The evening will be filled with inspiring stories and remarks from our distinguished Justice in Action award recipients. The evening’s festivities will begin at 6:00 pm ET with a cocktail reception, followed by the Justice in Action awards ceremony.

Thomas Kim joined Thomson Reuters in 1999 as compliance and legal counsel. Since then, he has held a number of legal executive roles including as chief counsel for Reuters News, a business unit general counsel and as the company’s Chief Compliance Officer.

Prior to assuming his current role as Chief Legal Officer and Company Secretary, Thomas led the overall separation of the $6 billion financial and risk data business (now known as Refinitiv) from Thomson Reuters. Prior to that, Thomas was the Managing Director of Thomson Reuters businesses in China, with P&L responsibility for a circa $130 million business. Prior to joining Thomson Reuters, Thomas was in private practice in San Francisco with the law firms Baker & McKenzie and Hancock, Rothert & Bunshoft (now Duane Morris).

Throughout his career, Thomas has led diversity initiatives, having helped launch a reverse mentoring program and a global diversity advisory council at Thomson Reuters and the ASCEND Executive Network in New York to aid Asian Pacific Americans rise to the C-suite. Thomas sits on the Advisory Council of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance and the Board of Directors of the National GC Network: BIPOC Lawyers Leading the Way. Previously, Thomas was named one of the “Best Lawyers under 40” by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. As a leader, Thomas believes that purpose drives people and people drive profit.

Thomas obtained undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford University.

Kal Penn is an actor, writer, producer, and former Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. He is known for his starring roles in Designated Survivor, House, Mira Nair’s The Namesake, the Harold & Kumar franchise, and the patriotic immigration sit-com Sunnyside which he co-created for NBC.

From 2009 to 2011, Kal took a sabbatical from acting to serve in the Obama/Biden administration, where he served as the President’s Liaison to Young Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the Arts community. In these roles, he worked on a range of issues, including the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Affordable Care Act, Pell Grants, arts and culture programs, the DREAM Act, and rapid response to the BP Oil Spill and earthquake in Haiti.

He was a national co-chair for the Obama/Biden re-election campaign in 2012 and served on the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities, focusing on arts education and cultural diplomacy. Penn has taught courses at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California, Los Angeles. Originally from New Jersey, he received his undergraduate degree in sociology, theater, film, and television at the University of California, Los Angeles, and received a graduate certificate in international security from Stanford University.

Penn recently wrapped production on the CBS Drama, Clarice (based on Silence of the Lambs), and Freeform’s late night youth election format show Kal Penn Approves This Message. He currently stars in the animated Disney Junior series Mira, Royal Detective, is an Executive Producer on the Viacom/Paramount + comedy, Surina & Mel, and can be heard in Nickelodeon’s It’s Pony.

His culinary competition series Money Hungry airs on Food Network this summer.

Kal’s first book You Can’t Be Serious releases on November 2nd, 2021 from Simon and Schuster/Gallery Books.

Founded in 1974, AALDEF is a New York-based national organization that promotes and protects the civil rights of Asian Americans. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, AALDEF works with Asian American communities across the country to secure human rights for all. We have won millions of dollars in back wages for low-wage immigrant workers; successfully challenged a Texas election law that restricted interpreters for Asian American voters, in violation of the Voting Rights Act, and secured a consent decree mandating language assistance for Bengali-speaking voters in Hamtramck, Michigan; and conducted a multilingual exit poll of 13,846 Asian American voters in the 2016 elections, the largest survey of its kind in the nation.

Proceeds from AALDEF’s annual celebration provide major funding for our programs in Asian American communities to stop Asian hate, protect immigrant rights, and expand voting rights.

Read about the 2021 gala, past sponsors, and a list of former Justice in Action Award recipients.

For more information regarding sponsorships email

Lia Chang

Lia Chang loves to tell stories that are diverse and inclusive – as an actor, a multi-media content producer, award-winning filmmaker, and a performing arts photographer and documentarian. Photo archives: Lia Chang Theater Portfolio collection,1989-2011, housed in the AAPI collection in the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room; Lia Chang Photography Collection in The Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library. Awards: 2000 OCA Chinese American Journalist Award, the 2001 AAJA National Award for New Media. Lia is an AAJA Executive Leadership Graduate (2000), a Western Knight Fellow at USC’s Annenberg College of Communications for Specialized Journalism on Entertainment Journalism in the Digital Age (2000), a National Press Photographers Association Visual Edge/Visual Journalism Fellow at the Poynter Institute for New Media (2001), a Scripps Howard New Media Fellow at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism (2002), and a National Tropical Garden Environmental Journalism Fellow (2003). A co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, Lia makes films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. She stars in and is the Executive Producer for the indie films Hide and Seek (AA Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Best Actress Nomination), Rom-Com Gone Wrong, and When the World Was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative). Lia has also appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Last Dragon. Along with an extensive career in Off-Broadway productions, favorite stage credits include her debut as Liat in a national tour of South Pacific with Barbara Eden and Robert Goulet and playing Joy in Signature Theatre’s revival of Sam Shepard’s Chicago.,

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