OCA Mourns and Remembers Judge Michael Kwan

Tue, July 21, 2020 9:37 PM | Anonymous

OCA Mourns and Remembers Judge Michael Kwan


21 July 2020

Contact: Thu Nguyen | Associate Director of Development
202.223.5500 | tnguyen@ocanational.org

Washington, DC – OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates greatly mourns the sudden loss of Judge Michael (Mike) Kwan. Judge Kwan was the founder of the OCA-Utah Chapter, a past OCA National President, and a mentor and leader to countless community members. He is survived by his wife, daughter, son, and sister, Utah Representative Karen Kwan. OCA sends our deepest condolences to Judge Kwan’s family and friends. 

Judge Kwan was a co-founder of the OCA-Utah Chapter in 1999 and a volunteer advisor to many other OCA chapters, as well as the OCA National Executive Council. He turned OCA National Conventions into family trips and, as an OCA Building Committee Advisor, even brought his daughter to the official opening of the OCA National Center Office, calling it “a historic moment.” Judge Kwan was a visionary for OCA, advocating for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, but also selflessly committing himself to supporting and uplifting the voices of other communities of color.

Most recently, as the president of the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association, Judge Kwan spearheaded the recognition and celebration of Chinese American railroad workers for the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. 

“Mike Kwan was an extraordinarily steady and strong voice of reason and equality both for OCA and the communities around him,” said Sharon M. Wong, OCA National President. “His lifelong dedication to justice can be seen through his career as well as his community work advocating for the equal representation of AAPIs and minorities in history and culture. Mike was a reliable leader and many sought his wisdom. As we grieve the loss of our dear friend, we must honor his legacy through the work that we do.”

“Michael Kwan was a man of utmost integrity,” said Leslie Moe-Kaiser, past OCA National President 2016. “He was a leader replete with courage and compassion, and possessing a fine elegant mind. I will deeply miss him as a mentor and friend.”

“Michael Kwan was always a thoughtful leader with great ideas,” said Ken Lee, OCA National CEO and past OCA National President 2009-2013. “Dedicated to keeping OCA accountable in being inclusive, he was constantly reaching out to communities in the Pacific Islands and even visited them during his term as OCA president. He was an advisor to me and, most importantly, a great friend. We will dearly miss him.”

“Judge Mike Kwan was truly a leader among leaders,” said Ginny Gong, past OCA National President 1993, 1994, 2005-2008. “His temperament, his words, his humor, and his commitment to justice distinguished him from all others. He was a staunch advocate for OCA’s mission and the Asian Pacific American community’s causes. He will surely be missed.”

“It is so hard to comprehend the passing of such a close friend and so suddenly,” said Michael Lin, past OCA National President 1995-1998. “Through OCA, we had worked closely for at least 10 years. Michael was such a gentleman and always had the most thoughtful advice for us. We will miss him a great deal and our deepest sympathy to his family.”

“Judge Mike Kwan was a noble soul. He dedicated himself to public service, both as a judge and as a community advocate,” said Claudine Cheng, past OCA National President 1991-1992. “Among his many legacies was the historic celebration of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad in Utah last year where, for the first time in history, the contribution of Chinese American railroad workers was properly acknowledged. Judge Kwan was instrumental in coordinating that monumental event. For that and many other of his community contributions, and for his friendship, we will forever be grateful.”

"Equality, equal justice, American History, Asian Americans AND Pacific Islanders, and OCA are all synonymous with The Honorable Michael Kwan.” said Daphne Kwok, past OCA National Executive Director. “OCA is so grateful to have had Judge Kwan as an OCA member, as President of the OCA Utah Chapter, and as an OCA National President. He gave 888% of his energy and commitment to bringing all AAPIs 'to the table.’ I'll remember him from last year's historic 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad commemoration which he led making sure that Chinese Americans were not left out 150 years later. The OCA family has lost one of our OCA giants."

OCA–Asian Pacific American Advocates is a national civil rights organization dedicated to improving the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).   


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