Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

Building upon the legacy of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center

Message from the Board of Directors (8/13/19)

Tuesday, August 13th 2019

Message from the Board of Directors

The Board of Directors would like to address recent statements that we along with current management oppose the staff of Advancing Justice-LA unionizing. Nothing could be further from the truth. Advancing Justice-LA, with the support of the Board, voluntarily recognized the union at the outset. The Board fully supports the staff’s right to organize and will continue to work in good faith with the collective bargaining unit.  

Advancing Justice-LA is currently at a crossroads. Just a few short months ago, we began the formal process of identifying a successor for Stewart Kwoh, Advancing Justice-LA’s Founder and past President and Executive Director. Around the same time, the Board began grappling with the organization’s financial and operational challenges, including the fact that we had historically underinvested in our operating systems, infrastructure and professional development resources for staff.

For too long, Advancing Justice-LA focused solely on our mission and meeting the needs of the communities we serve. Our efforts were directed at growth and expanding the services and programs we offer. However, we lost sight of what it means to grow in a sustainable way.  We didn’t invest back into our infrastructure, including critical areas like human resources, technology and facilities. And most importantly, we didn’t invest back into our most valuable resource - our people. Now the financial and operational stability of Advancing Justice-LA is at stake.

We are facing difficult challenges and there is no easy solution, but please know that the Board, our founder Stewart Kwoh, and Advancing Justice-LA’s current management team fully respect the rights of workers and their right to organize. We also respect the union negotiations process and will continue to do so. We are working hard to address the needs and rightful concerns of our employees. At the same time, we have a responsibility to confront head on the dire financial state of the organization.  

We must find ways to ensure responsible spending and sustainable financial health. The Board has been working closely with the staff leadership team, interim executive director Sylia Obagi and our founder Stewart Kwoh to find effective solutions that will have the least impact on Advancing Justice-LA’s staff and operations. Unfortunately, right-sizing the organization, as well as a reinvigorated fundraising strategy, are essential to our future success.

Efforts to reset the organization for success are being done alongside unionization. This is incredibly complex and we are limited in terms of what we can do given our current financial situation. We are doing our best to do right by our employees while at the same time ensuring we regain a solid financial footing so that we can continue doing our important work.  

Advancing Justice-LA’s challenges have been shared with our funders and other key stakeholders. With their support, we will continue to be transparent as we can while we work through this difficult time.

These challenges we face are not easy to address and unfortunately there is no perfect solution. However, we will get through this difficult time. We are committed to this organization its mission and our staff.  We have no doubt we will come out of this a stronger organization better positioned to advance justice for our communities.


Board of Directors
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA


Advancing Justice-LA's helplines prioritize assistance to low-income persons in the following areas of law: family, immigration, public benefits, employment, housing, and civil rights. 

English: 888.349.9695
需要協助嗎: 800.520.2356
도움이 필요하십니까: 800.867.3640
Tagalog: 855.300.2552
ต้องการความช่วยเหลือ: 800.914.9583


Our mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.