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Hawaiʻi State Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Melenani Wai‘alae

Melenani Wai‘alae
Family Law Attorney, Greg Ryan & Associates

Wednesday, June 15
1:45 pm – 3:00 pm – Roundtable – CWS

Melenani Wai‘alae is a Kānaka attorney, mother of three, PH.D. student, and survivor of intimate partner violence. She presently works as a Family Law Attorney at Greg Ryan & Associates where she represents clients in family law matters that include paternity, divorce, child support, guardianship, adoption, and restraining orders. Melenani previously worked as a Staff Attorney at Domestic Violence Action Center and served on DVAC’s first survivor advocacy board. She also taught Ho‘oikaika ‘Ohana classes to survivors at the Women’s Community Correctional Facility through DVAC. Melenani uses her knowledge and experience with intimate partner violence to assist survivors in navigating family law matters.

Melenani attended the University of Hawai‘i and received her B.A. with high honors and M.A. in Hawaiian Studies with a focus in Nation Building and Hawaiian History. She attended the William S. Richardson School of Law where she also earned a Native Hawaiian Law Certificate and is versed in legal issues specific to Kānaka. She is presently a Ph.D. Student in Political Science with a focus in Public Policy and Indigenous Politics and is completing a graduate certificate in Conflict Resolution. Her dissertation research is on utilizing pu‘uhonua to address social inequity amongst Kānaka, to include issues of family violence and systematic change.

Melenani served as the Hoenig Alternative Dispute Resolution Fellow with Judge R. Mark Browning in family court and the Gender Equity Legal Fellow with the Office of Institutional Equity at the University of Hawai‘i. She was recognized as an Alicia M. Leonhard Advocates for Public Interest Law grant recipient for her volunteer efforts to assist women and children through family law. Melenani served as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors for Ke Ola Mamo Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems and headed the Domestic Violence Committee. She was also awarded the Justice for Women Fellowship through the Hawai‘i State Commission on the Status of Women and served her fellowship with the Hawaii state legislature with Senator Maile Shimabukuro.

Melenani combines the above professional and personal experiences as a Kānaka mother and survivor of intimate partner violence to initiate steps towards healing our ‘ohana and lāhui. As a panelist she will speak from her diverse professional and personal experiences as a survivor of family violence, Court Appointed Special Advocate, Guardian Ad Litem, and family law attorney.

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