I am originally from Queens, NY, and am Chinese American. I moved to Las Vegas this past July, in order to take my current position, which is Dean and Richard J Morgan Professor of Law at the William S Boyd School of Law at UNLV. I was attracted to Boyd Law because of its potential, and how it has transformed the Nevada legal community, providing pathways to leadership through its JD and LLM programs.
What challenges have you faced as a woman in leadership, and how have you overcome them?
There are quite a number of challenges women face in leadership. For me, being an Asian and young-looking woman, it’s been getting taken seriously by others. I have overcome this by just staying the course. Whenever I am in a new situation in my leadership roles, I observe first and foremost and I make sure to make relevant comments that bring in my unique perspective. I find that making comments and remarks that others find useful and perceptive has been a way to be taken seriously – that I know what I am doing and that I deserve to be at the table.
Can you share a success story or project that you are particularly proud of and why?
I am super proud of being a parent and a leader among parents. Last year, my son was graduating from elementary school. Part of his school’s tradition was to go on a field trip. The PTO would typically fundraise for a portion of the costs and the families would then need to pay the difference. Due to COVID, the decision to go on a field trip was made late and so the time to fundraise was very short. One of the prior successes in fundraising had been selling pizza on the half days of the school – so that everyone could have lunch. But, we had stopped doing it because of COVID – and I thought – why can’t we be outside and sell pizza? So I took the lead and arranged it all – every Wednesday for 3 months – I lead and managed the pizza sales and in the end, we raised enough money so that not one family needed to pay for the field trip. It was a good feeling.
Can you share some of the key skills and qualities that have contributed to your success as a leader?
Listening, thinking because I speak, observing the dynamics in a group setting, reading the body language of others, and making eye contact. To be effective leaders, we need to adapt the framing of our message to match the tone and level of the audience. We’re not going to always reach everyone but if your framing is out of step with your audience, you’re not going to reach even the majority of your audience, which is what you should aim for.
What advice do you have for other women who aspire to be leaders in their respective fields, and what resources have been helpful for you in your own journey?
Create your network – your people who are going to be your cheerleader and then canvas them for advice. But, you should choose what to take and what to discard. While you need to stay true to yourself, you can do so in a more effective way with input. I have very much enjoyed and learned a lot from leadership workshops – just hearing from others in roles to which I may aspire has been really helpful to me. And also read about leadership and management styles, and think about the kind of leader you want to be so when the stars align, you’re ready to take that step.
How can we get involved with or support your organization?
Boyd Law enjoys so much support from our community – but we can always use more! We have a day of giving to Boyd Law on March 23 – law.unlv.edu – you can find more information about all that we do for students and the larger community there.