From left to right: Marcia Johnson, 2013 Johnson Fellow recipient, Amy Tu, J.D.’96, and Jeff Johnson, B.A.’70.

On April 3, 2013, Amy Tu, J.D.’96, chief counsel for Boeing Commercial Airplanes for the Boeing Company in Seattle, returned to the University of Arkansas campus as the Arkansas Alumni Association’s 2013 Johnson Fellow.

Endowed by Dr. Jeff Johnson, B.A.’70, and his wife, Marcia, the Johnson Fellows program was created in 2009 for the specific purpose of bringing esteemed alumni back to the University of Arkansas campus to engage and inspire students.

Tu, a native of Fayetteville, dedicated two days to sharing her professional expertise and experience with students, faculty, staff and alumni.  She has held a number of positions at Boeing including as regional counsel for Europe, Russia and Israel based in London, UK. Previously, she was assistant corporate secretary and counsel in the Law Department’s Finance and Governance practice group in Chicago. In that position, she provided legal counsel for mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, equity investments, finance and corporate governance for The Boeing Company. She was also a director for the Corporate and Strategic Development group in 2004.

Prior to joining Boeing in 2001, Tu was international corporate counsel for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. in Bentonville, Ark., and the GAP in San Francisco. Her responsibilities included advising senior executives of the companies for international mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and international trade activities. While at Wal-Mart, she was also responsible for establishing, training and managing in-house legal departments in foreign jurisdictions; developing a government relations strategy for the China operations as well as international trade and global sourcing. She was appointed to the U.S. Department of Commerce Industry Sector Advisory Committee for Retailing.

Tu has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Wellesley College and a Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She was a member of the Arkansas Law Review, the American Inns of Court and was a law clerk through the extern program for the federal chief judge of the Western District of Arkansas, the late Judge H. Franklin Waters. Prior to law school, she was an assistant buyer for cosmetics at Saks Fifth Avenue and a financial analyst in the High Yield/ Restructuring group of the Investment Banking Department at Merrill Lynch in New York.

She was distinguished as a “Top 40 under 40” by Crain’s Chicago Business magazine; awarded the 2004 Chinese-American Business Woman of the Year through the Chicago Foundation for Women and Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce; selected as a Fellow for the Leadership Greater Chicago program; served on the Board of Directors for the Pilsen YMCA; co-chaired Perspectives Charter School’s annual fundraising campaign; and served as a committee member to the Special Olympics.

With a background in finance and economics, Tu was determined to head back east to business school. Her parents suggested otherwise – the University of Arkansas School of Law in her hometown.“My parents planted that first thought in my mind about becoming a lawyer.”Intrigued, she talked to a number of  people in the profession, including lawyers, state officials and judges, to understand the different career paths with a law degree.She took away one important lesson: “having a law degree provides not only a comprehensive understanding  of how our legal system works but also a disciplined framework for thinking through issues. You can be a more effective counselor when you understand the business imperatives and objectives.”

Currently serving as chief counsel for Commercial Aviation Services for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, she is responsible for supporting the president and leadership team of Commercial Aviation Services, providing legal support for strategic and operational matters worldwide, as well as leading a team of attorneys, paralegals and administrative staff.  During her time on campus, Tu spoke to students studying law, business, political science and engineering. Providing advice and tips on preparing to enter the job market, she said, “Different experiences  are critical to distinguishing your resume from others and are helpful to understanding what you want to do and what you don’t want to do.” 

Concluding her visit to Fayetteville with a reception held at the Johnson’s home, Graham Stewart, executive director of the Arkansas Alumni Association, presented Tu with a medal recognizing her as the 2013 Johnson Fellow recipient.

As an alumna of the University of Arkansas, Tu is often asked to call the Hogs.  At appropriate times and places, she does.