The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) named Cmdr. Sylvaine W. Wong, deputy director of the Office of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Military Personnel Division, as the inaugural 2017 NAPABA Military and Veteran Service Award recipient. The award will be presented at the 2017 NAPABA Convention in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 4, 2017.
The NAPABA Military and Veteran Service Award recognizes individuals within the Asian Pacific American legal community serving the U.S. Armed Forces whose outstanding achievements greatly enhanced the mission of the Armed Forces; contributed to the advancement of rights for service-members, their families, and/or veterans; or furthered the administration of justice.
A native of Berkeley, Calif., Wong’s military career has seen her traverse the globe from U.S. military bases to the Pentagon to deployments in support of the most historically significant combat operations over the last two decades. Her tireless dedication to advancing the principals of justice and the rule of law has left lasting impacts not only on the individual service members and their families she has represented, but also on policymaking and programmatic efforts at the national and international levels.
Wong earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and mass communications from University of California, Berkeley, and Juris Doctor from Columbia University, School of Law in 2001. She commissioned through the JAG Corps Student Program in 2001 and is admitted to the California Bar. She earned a Master in Public Policy from Georgetown University in 2009 and a Master of Laws in international law from Harvard University, School of Law through the Navy Post-Graduate Education Program.
Upon moving to Washington, D.C., in 2007, Wong became one of the JAG Corps’ subject matter experts on administrative law, specifically pertaining to personnel law and military rights and benefits. As part of the Department of the Navy’s Equal Opportunity program, Wong reviewed hundreds of investigations by individual sailors for alleged violations of military regulations and statutory law, including congressional inquiries. Her review of the specific administration of the program for compliance with federal law also contributed to the Navy’s long-term preparations leading up to the 2011 repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in military service by homosexuals and bisexuals.
Currently, she is responsible for the policy development and execution oversight of the entire JAG Corps’ recruiting, accession, and retention mission. In addition to managing the recruiting program, which spans the over 200 American Bar Association-accredited law schools throughout the nation, she has reinvigorated the JAG Corps’ diversity and inclusion efforts, compelling new initiatives to bring diversity and inclusion into all aspects of career development and retention within the JAG Corps.
Among the efforts Wong has spearheaded is the Diversity Liaison Program, empowering both junior and senior officers within the Navy JAG Corps to work substantively with national affinity bar associations and law student organizations to develop meaningful long-term partnerships. This program is designed to offer mentorship, resources, and subject matter expertise to the members of these various organizations while simultaneously promoting public service in the legal profession.