Apr 8, 2011

Dr. Amy Agbayani to Receive Distinguished Service Award

Dr. Amy Agbayani
Special to the Fil-Am Observer

THE HAWAII Women Lawyers, which is marking its 35th anniversary in 2011, will be presenting its 2010 Distinguised Service Award to Amy Agbayani, Ph. D, at its Annual Awards Reception on Friday eveinig, April 15, 2011, at the Plaza Club, Main Dining Room, 900 Fort Street Mall, Honolulu. The Distinguised Service Award  is presented to an individual "who has made significant community contributions that advance the mission of Hawaii Women Lawyers."

HWL President Ruth Oh noted that one of the organization's mission goals is "adding and advancing qualified women to position of authority and responsibility, so that the composition of leadership and decision-making bodies can be 'better balanced' with persos of diverse viewpoints and experiences in a way that with enchance the delivery of justice to all."

To be recognized with Dr. Agbayani are Chief Justice [Retired] Ronald T.Y. Moon of the Supreme Court of Hawaii, Lifetime Achievement Award; Kathryn Matayoshi, Former Deputy, Acting and Interim Superintendent of Education, Outstanding Women Lawyer Award; Hon. Leslie E. Kobayashi, Hawaii's 12th US District Court Judge since statehood, Outstanding Judicial Achievement Award; and Kimberly Bassford, receiving the CWL President's Award for her documentary film, "Patsy Mink: Ahead of the Majority, and other film productions "that advance social justice, strengthen our connections with one another and deepen our understanding of the world."

Dr. Agbayani is the founding director of the Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity program of the University of Hawaii. As director of SEED, she oversees more than twenty programs addressing the needs of students from underrepresented groups based on age, academic ability, ethnicity, disability, economic class, culture, gender, sex, religious, and sexual orientation.

For decades, she has been a prominent advocate for social justice and civil rights, incuding the advancement of women. She is a co-founder and board member of the Hawaii Women's Political Caucus, and a board member of the Patsy T. Mink Political Action Committee. She was the first chair of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, and a former chair of the Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission.

Dr. Agbayani is well known also for her leadership on behalf of immigrant populations, and helped organize the Inter-Agency Council for Immigrant Services and Na Loio Immigrant Rights and Public Interest Legal Center. When the 1965 immigration law was passed, bringing new immigrant Filipinos to Hawaii, she and other educators noticed that the Filipinos were being picked on in the puublic schools. She was a co-founder of Operation Manong, a program designed to send college students to tutor immigrant students in the public schools. From that movement, born through strategic volunteerism, a new generation of students and community leaders in Hawaii grew and flourished.

In 2010 elections, Dr. Agbayani served as honorary co-chair of Givernbor Neil Abercrombie's successful campaign for Governor of Hawaii.

For her lifelong pioneering work and advocacy, Dr. Agbayani has received numerous awards and recognition. Among them are the Honolulu County Committee on the Status of Women, the Alan Saunders American Civil Liberties Union Award, the YMCA Outstanding Women Award, the East West Center Distinguised Alumni Award, the UH Distinguised Alumni Award,, the Honpa Hongwanji Living Treasure Award, and The National Association for Student Personnel Administrators.

Dr. Agbayani's story, related through her own recollection, was aired through PBS Hawaii when she was featured and interviewed in late 2010 on Leslie Wilcox's "Long Story, Short."

A graduate of the University of the Philippines, where she obtained her B.A. in Political Science, she holds a Master of Arts and Ph.d in Political Science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

[Source: "Hawaii Women Lawyers" [February, March and April 2011]

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