Lorenn Walker

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Lorenn Walker is a Hawai’i based health educator and a restorative & peacemaking lawyer who uses public health and solution-focused approaches to address trauma and deal with social problems commonly addressed by legal and criminal justice systems.

She designs, implements, researches, writes, publishes and trains others on a variety of innovations including restorative practices and solution focused approaches. Her purpose is to improve the justice system, help individuals and organizations with access to justice, and to promote healthy and positive lives no matter what the circumstances are. She has a special interest in helping disenfranchised people including foster youth, homeless people, crime victims, incarcerated people, people with substance abuse problems, loved ones of all affected, find what they need for healing.

She is also interested in assisting aging people, and others with health challenges, achieve fitness and healthy lives.

Much of her research and work is conducted as director of Hawai’i Friends of Restorative Justice, which she has worked with for over 20 years www.hawaiifriends.org.

Since 1994, she has been a University of Hawai’i system lecturer teaching a variety of courses including public speaking, criminal justice, restorative justice, and ethics.

Phil Zimbardo, Stanford University prison experiment principal researcher, and author of The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil, says Lorenn’s “work is wonderful.”

Dr. Zimbardo also endorses the restorative and solution-focused individual reentry planning process for incarcerated people that Lorenn developed with help from her teacher the late Insoo Kim Berg. Over 700 people have participated in the reentry circles based on an idea shared by John Braithwaite in 2001. The circles and/or aspects of them have been replicated in other places including New York, California, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, New York, California, Brazil, Spain, Serbia, Bermuda, Japan, and Finland.

Dr. Braithwaite, one of the world’s most cited restorative justice scholars, and the author of Crime, Shame & Reintegration, says that Lorenn “is one of the best trained, most experienced and most sophisticated restorative justice practitioners in the world.”

The National Conference on Restorative Justice awarded Lorenn with the John W. Byrd Pioneer Award for Restorative and Community Justice 2011. The Solution Focused Brief Therapy Association of the United States awarded Lorenn with the Steve de Shazer Memorial Award in 2015 “in recognition of significant contributions to the field of solution-focused brief therapy over many years.”

Lorenn is also a Senior Fulbright Specialist for international peacemaking and conflict management skill building training. Please see her CV for other awards.

Lorenn’s unique background enables her to connect with people harmed by social injustice and crime, those who caused it, along with communities and harmed loved ones and with people who work in the justice system.

She left her family home due to difficulties when she was 14 years old, dropped out of high school at 15, was adjudicated as a juvenile offender at 16 when she spent a short time in jail. She became a parent at age 18, and enrolled in St. Nicholas Montessori Teacher Training Centre distance learning course from London, England. Lorenn earned her Montessori Teaching Certificate in 1971 when she was 19 by completing the course’s hands-on training at the University of California San Diego that was led by Margaret Homfray and Phoebe Child, who were both Dr. Maria Montessori’s students.

Lorenn began teaching at the Children’s House in Santa Cruz, California, at age 20, where each morning started with a circle. She became the school director when she was 22 years old. In 1975, she moved to Hawai’i where her grandparents and father lived in the early 1900s.

An unknown, and never apprehended assailant seriously injured Lorenn in an attempted rape and assault. The assault motivated her to go to law school (NPR story http://www.npr.org/2014/07/06/329230105/after-assault-woman-finds-hope-and-career-in-restorative-justice). The assault also caused her shame that she overcame and forgive herself for about 20 years later (The Forgiveness Project https://www.theforgivenessproject.com/lorenn-walker).

In 1980 after graduating from the University of Hawai’i, Lorenn attended Northeastern University Law School in Boston. She returned to Hawai’i and practiced law through her 30s in Honolulu. She left mainstream lawyering at age 41 to earn a masters degree in health education. Since 1996 she has been using a public health approach in working with the justice system and assisting people facing hardships find peace and healing.

From 1984 to 1994 Lorenn was a Hawai’i state deputy attorney general and defended state agencies and employees including the welfare and prison systems. She also prosecuted people and organizations for fraud and corruption.

From 1994 to 1999, she was a guardian ad litem for children in child abuse and neglect cases, and a defense lawyer for indigent children and adults charged with crimes, and child abuse in family court.

In 1998 and 1999, she was the President of the Child & Family Advocacy Section of the Hawai’i State Bar Association.

A life-long surfer, former champion windsurfer, triathlete, wife, mother of three children and grandmother, Lorenn is living proof of how to transform conflict into resiliency, and how to age with strength.

Since 1999, Lorenn has annually entered the Xterra World Championships, a rugged off-road triathlon held on Maui. She has placed in the Championships every year except one. In 2014 she broke her shoulder after completing a practice ride of the mountain bike course 2 days before the race. 2019 was her 20th year to compete in the Maui Xterra Worlds (https://www.xterraplanet.com/2019/10/20-tips-learned-doing-19-xterra-worlds-1999-2019).

In 2002 and 2003, Lorenn competed in the Kona Ironman Triathlon World Championships. Within a week of the Kona races, she competed in the Xterra World Championship. She is the first woman over 40 to do both grueling races, The Double, in the same week.

In 1999, at the age of 47, Lorenn was the Hawai’i State Woman’s Windsurfing Champion. She has been sponsored for athletic performances for many years (see her sports resume for more).

As a University of Hawai’i lecturer for over 20 years, Lorenn has taught thousands in a variety of subjects including personal and public speaking, conflict management skills, restorative justice, criminal law, and ethics. Many of her public speaking students have been their college class speaker at graduation (Barack Obama inspired Lorenn in 1980 when he competed in a Hawai’i high school debate competition http://www.lorennwalker.com/blog/?p=31).

In addition her Montessori teacher training, Lorenn earned an associate in arts degree from Leeward Community College, Pearl City 1978; a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Hawai’i, Manoa 1980; juris doctorate degree from Northeastern University School of Law, Boston 1983; masters degree in health education from the University of Hawai’i School of Public Health, Manoa 1996. She is a life long learner and continues to take courses and engage in opportunities to increase her skills and understanding.

Lorenn frequently speaks and conducts training on conflict management, restorative justice, improving the justice system, as well as health and fitness especially for aging and people facing health challenges.

Newspapers, television and radio have interviewed her numerous times including NPR, OWN and CNN about her justice related work. She is the author of several books including Aging With Strength, over 50 articles, and she is on the editorial review boards for five academic journals.

Lorenn is married and the parent of one daughter and two sons. She lives with her husband on the North Shore of O’ahu a mile and a half down the beach from her daughter, son-in-law, and three grandchildren’s Hawai’i home.

She especially enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, running, surfing, and skateboarding with her family and friends.

To contact Lorenn, please call (808) 218-3712, email lorenn@hawaiifriends.org or lorenn@hawaii.edu.

“Each individual has a universal responsibility to shape institutions to serve human needs.” The Dalai Lama