Going Against The Grain: Caren Lock

Caren Locke

Caren K. Lock is the Regional Vice President and Associate General Counsel of TIAA-CREF, a full-service financial services company, where she is the primary interface for the company on all legislative, executive, administrative, and regulatory matters in the southwest region. She also directs all legislative lobbying and regulatory advocacy in her states. At TIAA-CREF, Lock is active in gender and racial diversity initiatives, having served as the Corporate Co-Chair of the Women’s Employee Resource Group.

Prior to joining TIAA-CREF, Lock was General Counsel with a consumer financial company in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Before entering the corporate world, Caren also spent over a decade litigating complex business matters including copyright and trademark infringement, employment discrimination, shareholder and partnership disputes, aviation, and toxic tort.

Lock currently serves on a number of local organizations, including the Board of the Dallas Women’s Foundation as a member of the Executive Committee and as the Chair of the Advocacy Committee; a member of The Dallas Assembly; the Center for Nonprofit Management, for which she has been a board member and currently serves on the Advisory Board; and a member of the Founders Board of the University of North Texas School of Law.

Previously, she served on the Boards of the Dallas Bar Association, as Chair of the Grievance Panel for seven years; the State of Texas Asian Pacific Interest Section and the Dallas Asian American Bar Association, where she served as President and a former Board member.

A Hong Kong-born Chinese American, Lock is a frequent speaker on racial and gender diversity, nonprofit regulatory issues, legal ethics and grievances, generational dynamics, and community and political advocacy. She regularly presents at continuing legal education courses for the local and Texas Bar organizations. In her spare time, she volunteers at the Cancer Support Community (formerly Gilda’s Clubhouse) teaching yoga to cancer survivors and their families. Lock lives in Allen with her husband Michael Bahar and their two sons.

Full name: 
Caren Ka-Pik Lock
Kowloon,  Hong Kong
Current City: 
Dallas, Texas

What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”

“Going Against The Grain”means standing by your convictions and principles even when they are not popular.  A true leader is guided by a moral compass that serves the greater good.  As an immigrant, I learned early on to blend in and assimilate. However, as I have matured, I realize that sometimes it is ok to stand out from the crowd. It is through those experiences that I have learned my authentic self.

What made you decide to pursue a career in this industry?

My parents were very influential in my decision to pursue a legal career.  They shared with me how they had to suffer in silence through social injustice under communist rule in China.  As a result, my parents embraced all of the American values we hold near and dear to our hearts.  One of those is the ability to fully address grievances through the judicial system.  I wanted to be a part of the process to bring fairness to everyone.

What have been some of the challenges you faced/lessons you learned as an Asian American in this field?  

Asian children are taught at an early age to be deferential and only speak when spoken to.  This is a challenge I had to overcome in my professional life.  I had to learn to find my voice and, at times, demand a seat at the table.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment, and why?

My biggest accomplishment are reflected in my two sons.  They are strong young men who embody kindness, integrity, and empathy.  They hold themselves to a standard higher than that which I set for them.  Without a doubt, it is hard to juggle a family with a professional life, but I had a great support system and for that, I am thankful.

What’s up next?

I am blessed to work for a company that is committed to philanthropy and allows me opportunities to give back.  I want to see the Asian community speak with a louder voice through civic engagement.  With the upcoming 2016 election, I hope that we will vote, run for office, and get involved in ways big and small.

Quote to live by:

“That which does not kill you makes you stronger.”

Sign (Eastern Animal Sign & Western Zodiac):

I was born in the Year of the monkey and am a Virgo.


Passionate about:

I am passionate about women’s issues.  This is why I Orchid Giving Circle Logoco-founded The Orchid Giving Circle with a handful of amazing friends.  The Orchid Giving Circle Fund at Dallas Women’s Foundation was launched in 2015 and modeled after many successful Asian giving circles around the country. The Orchid Giving Circle comprises of Asian women philanthropists in North Texas ranging in age from our 20s to our 70s, and represent a wide range of cultures, ethnicities, and professions. The Orchid has an interest in Asian women-led social change projects and organizations serving Asians in North Texas. Our goal is to increase awareness of the local Asian population, community needs and knowledge about philanthropy.  The Orchid Giving Circle is a member of the AAPIP National Giving Circle Network and receives matching grants.

Favorite food:

I love Chinese food, especially Peking Duck and anything with seafood.

Can’t live without:

I can’t live without my family.  I travel extensively for my job which can be lonely at times.  Nothing beats hearing my husband tell me “welcome home” and my kids tell me “we missed you, mom!”

I Go Against The Grain #beCAUSE:

Disparate treatment remains for different people.  I want to continue to challenge stereotypes and give a voice to my community.  My hope is that I will be remembered for my actions and not my inactions when confronting injustice.

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