John G. Chou, general counsel at AmerisourceBergen Corporation, was honored with the 2014 Justice in Action Awards at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF).
The award is given annually to individuals for their “outstanding achievements and contributions in advancing justice and equality”, the AALDEF said in a statement.
“To be honored by this organization is really humbling to me. It’s an organization that has such a long history of doing really great work for the community,” he told China Daily. “It’s always nice to get honors, but it’s really nice to get an honor from a group of people who are adding so much to the community and doing so much. The fact that they selected me to follow in the footsteps of some amazing people is just really incredible.”
Chou is also executive vice-president at AmerisourceBergen, a Pennsylvania-based pharmaceutical company, where he has worked since 2002. Prior to that he had practiced law for more than 20 years and was a partner at Eckert Seamans Cherin and Mellott.
Margaret Fung, executive director of AALDEF, said that Chou’s belief “that professional success must come hand-in-hand with community responsibility makes him a role model for Asian American lawyers”.
The award ceremony was held on Tuesday evening at Pier Sixty at the Chelsea Piers in New York City, and was co-hosted by ABC News correspondent Juju Chang and CBS anchorwoman Cindy Hsu. Presenting the awards was Charles Ogletree, Jr, a Harvard Law School professor and prior Justice in Action honoree.
At a press conference held prior to the awards ceremony, Chou said that he felt fortunate to be doing well, so he felt obligated to give back to the community.
“I was raised a child of immigrant parents who were constantly striving and pushing, but also feeling that they had responsibilities to their community,” he said. It made him feel that anything good that happened to him was “not because of me, but because I was fortunate, so I needed to get out and help people”, he said.
Chou graduated from Harvard University with a degree in biochemical sciences in 1978, and completed his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1984.
He is a member of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania Leadership Advisory Council and a former two-time president of the association as well.
This year’s other honorees were Mari Matsuda, professor of law at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and Aasif Mandvi, actor, comedian, and correspondent on the political comedy program The Daily Show with John Stewart.
AALDEF is a national organization that protects the civil rights of Asian Americans and works with the Asian-American community by providing legal resources and education. Past recipients of the Justice in Action Award include Fred Korematsu, David Henry Hwang, Salman Rushdie and Yoko Ono.
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