Lorenn Walker Bio

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Lorenn Walker is a Hawai’i based health educator and restorative lawyer who uses public health to address trauma and deal with social problems commonly addressed by the criminal justice system.

She designs, implements, researches, writes and publishes on a variety of innovations including restorative practices and solution focused brief therapy. She has a special interest in helping disenfranchised people including foster and homeless youth, crime victims, incarcerated people, and the loved ones of all affected.

Much of her research 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.

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 Insoo Kim Berg. Over 600 people have participated in the reentry circles based on an idea shared by John Braithwaite. The circles are being replicated in Washington DC, and were used in New York and California.

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.”

In 2015, Lorenn received the Steve de Shazer Memorial Award from the Solution Focused Brief Therapy Association of the United Sates “in recognition of significant contributions to the field of solution focused brief therapy over many years.” She is a Senior Fulbright Specialist for international peacemaking and conflict management skill building training. Please contact her about visits to non-US academic or educational institutions abroad.

In 2011, she received the John W. Byrd Pioneer Award for Restorative and Community Justice from the National Conference on Restorative Justice. Please see her CV for other awards.

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

She lived on her own 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, which was led by Margaret Homfray and Phoebe Child, who were both Dr. Maria Montessori’s students.

At age 20, Lorenn began teaching at the Children’s House in Santa Cruz, California, 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.

At age 24, Lorenn was seriously injured in an assault by an unknown assailant, which 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).

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 face hardships and seek peace.

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.

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, a 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. 2016 was the 17th year she competed in the race, which she has placed in 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. 2016 was her 18th consecutive year returning to Maui to compete in Xterra.

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 of students personal and public speaking and conflict management skills. Many of her public speaking students have been their college class speaker at graduation. She has also taught ethics, business, and criminal law courses. She always brings a Montessori – participatory – learning approach to her courses and trainings.

In addition to 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.

lorenn skateLorenn frequently speaks about health, conflict management, and restorative justice. Newspapers, television and radio have interviewed her numerous times. She is the author of several books, over 50 articles, and she is on the editorial review boards for five academic journals.

Lauren daughter grandaughterShe is married and the parent of one daughter and two sons. She lives with her husband and one son 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, biking, running, surfing, and skateboarding with her family and friends.

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

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

The Dalai Lama