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Posted by: Yahairah Aristy on May 13, 2021

Last Thursday at our virtual 2021 Annual Dinner, attended by over 350 guests, we awarded the 2021 Icon Award to California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley N. Weber, the first African American to serve as a constitutional officer in 170 years in California’s history. The audience was moved to tears and proud that this Icon is one we call our own.

But this isn’t the first time for San Diego County to claim a trailblazer as its own. In 1979, the Honorable Patricia Y. Cowett was the first Chinese American woman to be appointed to be a judge in the United States. Cowett, who retired in 2008, served as presiding judge in 1991 becoming the second woman to serve in this position in the San Diego Municipal Court. Cowett, a past president of Lawyers Club and also Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego, was one of the founding members of California Women Lawyers and also helped found the National Association of Women Judges.

In 1986, the Honorable Lillian Y. Lim was the first Filipina American to be appointed judge in the United States. Lim, who retired in 2007, was a founding officer and member of the Asian Pacific Bar of California, Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego, and Filipino American Lawyers of San Diego. She is also a past president of the California Asian American Judges Association.

As we celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage this month, let’s remember to celebrate our own AAPI members, who have paved the path by shattering glass ceilings.


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