Ask The CEO: National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Tina Matsuoka
Tina Matsuoka, executive director, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, answers questions from NAPABA member Michael Yim.
Why did you decide that you were more interested in nonprofit leadership than law practice?
When I was a young civil rights lawyer, I moved to a state where I didn’t know anyone, and I joined NAPABA’s local affiliate, where I found colleagues who were willing to share their wealth of knowledge and made friendships that have lasted to this day. I enjoyed working within an association framework as a volunteer to help lawyers advance their careers and to promote diversity and inclusion in the profession. I began to think about ways that I could pursue this work on a full-time basis, and when I had the opportunity to become executive director of NAPABA, I knew it was the perfect job for me.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met in your job?
During one of NAPABA’s Annual Conventions, I had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Pearl Tang, the wife of the late Judge Thomas Tang, the first Chinese American to ever serve as a U.S. federal judge. He was a champion of individual rights, an advocate for lawyers of color, and an ardent supporter of NAPABA. I had not realized that Dr. Tang was a trailblazer in her own right as the first Asian Pacific American (APA) female doctor in Arizona and a tireless community advocate.
In law school, what did you imagine you would be doing in your career?
I went to law school because I wanted to be a civil rights and community advocate. In many ways, my position allows me to pursue those same passions. I work on policy issues that affect the APA community, and I have the privilege of helping young lawyers and law students navigate their paths through the legal profession.