Top Environmental Award from Surfrider Foundation Goes to Associate Law Dean Denise Antolini

November 15, 2013

UH Law Associate Dean Denise Antolini has been named the 2013 John Kelly Lifetime Achievement Award winner by the O‘ahu Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, an international grassroots organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans, waves and beaches. There are 80 chapters worldwide and more than 50,000 members.

Antolini joined the UH Law faculty in 1996 and she directed the Law School’s nationally recognized Environmental Law Program for many years. At the Law School, she has taught environmental law and litigation, ocean and coastal law, torts, and legal writing and she has served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs since 2011.

In addition to her service at the William S. Richardson School of Law, Antolini is being recognized for working tirelessly in the community to preserve the environment and for successfully helping build coalitions dedicated to environmental issues and to strengthening environmental protection laws. She lives in Pūpūkea and helped to found and serves on the boards of two prominent North Shore non-profits: the North Shore Community Land Trust and Mālama Pūpūkea-Waimea.

She also has served on numerous community and government committees, most recently the nominating committee for the State Water Commission. She was the inaugural chair of the Honolulu City Council’s Clean Water and Natural Lands Commission and is past chair of the State Environmental Council.

In 2002 Hawai‘i Women Lawyers named her the recipient of its Distinguished Community Service Award. She is past national chair of the Environmental Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools.

At the University, Antolini has been recognized for her many and varied outstanding academic contributions and her strengths as a teacher. In 2006 she was awarded the UH Board of Regents’ Excellence in Teaching Medal and that same year the Law School’s Environmental Law Program received the national award for Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy from the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Environmental Law and Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources. Law Dean Avi Soifer had accolades for what he called “Antolini’s profound impact at the Law School and within Hawai‘i, as well as nationally and it is no
coincidence that the Law School’s Environmental Law Program has attracted national recognition and, most importantly, brings us terrific students and has created a devoted network of alumni and friends.”

Soifer added, “We all benefit from the fact that Dean Antolini is marvelously strategic and wise, but it may be that it is our environment benefits most of all from her many accomplishments, some recognized and some entirely unsung.”

Along with retired Law Prof. Casey Leigh, Antolini is credited with inspiring dozens of law students to pursue their interest in protecting Hawai‘i’s fragile environment. The Environmental Law Program is celebrating its 25th awarded nearly 200 certificates to graduates who specialize in environmental law and are leaders in Hawaii’s environmental law community. Throughout the community, her year and has current and former students are playing critically important roles in ensuring that the state will continue to benefit from clean beaches, sustainable energy policies, and open space in the future.

The Surfrider award presentation and dinner is Saturday, Nov. 16 from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Waimea Valley on the North Shore.

This is the ninth year the O‘ahu Chapter has named a John Kelly Lifetime Achievement Award winner in honor of the environmental activist credited with saving 140 surf sites on O‘ahu. Kelly, who passed away in 2007, was the first recipient in 2003.