The Surfrider Foundation hosted its annual John Kelly Awards on Saturday November 16, 2013 in Waimea Valley. The event commemorated those working hard in the environmental movement in Hawaii. There were three awards that went out and one of them was given to Denise Antolini for a lifetime commitment to improving and protecting the environment. Several students and faculty attended to celebrate Dean Antolini’s accomplishment. The night hosted food, wine, live music and a silent auction. The other awards, for professional surfer and environmentally friendly business went to Crystal Thornburg-Homcy and the Black Cat hair salon in Kaimuki.
Dean Antolini’s contributions to the environment have been long-term and widespread, here is a short-list of her accomplishments that led to her nomination for the lifetime achievement award:
She serves on the State Water Commission Nominating Committee (2013), 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. She spent eight years practicing public interest law with the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund (now Earthjustice) in Seattle and Honolulu, serving as Managing Attorney of the Honolulu office from 1994 until 1996. Dean Antolini litigated several major citizen suit environmental cases involving coastal pollution, water rights, endangered species, environmental impact statements, and Native Hawaiian rights. She served on the legal team that represented the plaintiffs in the PASH (traditional and customary Native Hawaiian rights) decision and was lead counsel on the legal team for the Windward parties in the early stages of the Waiāhole Water case (1993-1995). She is a founding and current member of the North Shore Community Land Trust (advisory board), the Save Waimea Valley Coalition, and Mālama o Pūpūkea-Waimea (President, 2005-present). Not to mention, she has inspired hundreds of students to defend the environment in addition to her own activism.