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Patti J. Leonard Lyons

Retired, Volunteer Chairwoman of the Hawaii Family Support Institute, Chair of the Dean's Advisory Board at the University of Hawaii School of Social Work

Class of 1954 - A.A. Social Work/Social Services

Patti J. Leonard Lyons

"My grandmother only went to the eighth grade in school, and yet she taught me about justice."

Lyons made her way from the Midwest to Hawaii in 1965 when her husband found his dream job doing group work inside a prison. She would find her calling as well at Child and Family Service.

During her 23 years with CFS, Lyons would establish its advocacy program and neighborhood services division before rising to the ranks of assistant director, executive director and eventually president-CEO when the nonprofit adopted a corporate model.

Lyons has spent her life striving to find justice for abused children."I don't need to be recognized - I'm just happy with my work and with the kids," Lyons says of this most-recent honor. "I feel very blessed to have a career you can love and work in all your life. It's truly a blessing."

Her pioneering work was recognized last month by the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii, which honored Lyons with the prestigious title of Living Treasure of Hawaii for 2010.

Additionally, she has received the 1996 Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation; the 2000 Kaanib ng Bayan Award, presented by former Philippine President Fidel Ramos; a 2002 recognition by Philippine President Gloria Arroyo for her work with the Innovative Out of School Youth Project; the 2003 Award of Excellence by the Council on Accreditation for Children and Family Services; the 2004 Outstanding Community Leader and Advocate by the senate of the state of Hawaii; the 2004 Keeper of the Flame Award by Na Lolo Immigrant Rights and Public Interest Legal Center; and the 2006 UH School of Social Work Honoree Award.

Read more about Lyons in MidWeek of Honolulu. An audio recording of a December 2010 interview is available on Long Story Short, a PBS Hawaii program.

In 2012, Lyons was honored with the Alumni Award of Distinction by William Woods University in recognition of her lifetime of achievements.

Some content courtesy Sarah Pacheco of MidWeek of Honolulu.