Benes Z. Aldana
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Benes Aldana '91 ('94 JD, University of Washington School of Law) serves as the eleventh president and CEO of The National Judicial College (NJC). Prior to joining the NJC in 2017, he served for 22 years in the United States Coast Guard in various leadership roles, retiring as a captain (O-6) and as the first Asian Pacific American to serve as chief trial judge of a U.S. military branch. Under his visionary and transformative leadership, NJC has seen unprecedented growth, innovative program development, and a record-breaking enrollment surge in 2020 through online programming responsive to contemporary challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice concerns. His initiatives - such as the first-of-its-kind Judicial Academy for aspiring judges and courses addressing contemporary issues like artificial intelligence, climate science, and anti-racism – highlight his dedication to evolving judicial education to meet modern challenges.
Judge Meng Li Che '01 was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to fill a vacant position on Washington’s Court of Appeals bench in 2022 and was elected to the position earlier this month. Judge Che grew up in Tacoma in an immigrant family and worked in the family’s restaurant starting in her early childhood, along with her sister and two brothers. After graduating from the University of San Diego, she returned to Washington and in 2001 earned her law degree at Seattle University School of Law. While Judge Che is also a member of the California Bar, she chose to center her legal career in Washington and spent seven years as a public defender in Pierce County before moving to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, where she attained the position of assistant chief Industrial Insurance Appeals judge. There, she presided over issues of workers’ compensation and workplace safety. She is a member of The Hon. Robert J. Bryan American Inn of Court, a senior fellow with American Leadership Forum Tacoma Pierce County, and is a long-serving leader in her church’s Children’s Ministry program.
Seattle University School of Law, "Benes Z. Aldana" (2023). Luminaries in Law. 4.