How it all began...
After months of planning and consulting with the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership, the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawai‘i (MLPC) finally began to walk the walk—literally. On two days in July of 2008, three law students and a recent graduate of UH Law School accompanied two health outreach workers from Kokua Kalihi Valley community health center to conduct a door-to-door survey of public housing residents. In addition to learning about health needs in the Kalihi Valley community, we asked public housing residents two questions: “Have you ever used a lawyer or legal services to solve a problem?” and “If you had free access to a lawyer in Kalihi Valley, would you use one?” Not surprisingly, only 2 out of 26 respondents had ever talked to a lawyer before. And nearly all of them wanted access to free legal services in Kalihi Valley.
By April of 2009, MLPC began holding Legal Advocacy Clinics at the Kokua Kalihi Valley (“KKV”) health center located on North School Street, just up the road from Kuhio Park Terrace, Hawaii’s largest public housing sites. The Legal Advocacy Clinics coincide with the KKV Pediatrics Clinics every Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. This allows for seamless legal services for families, and it also provides practical training for law students to work alongside medical residents. In addition to individual family advocacy, the MLPC Hawai‘i team of doctors, health workers, lawyers and law students engage in systemic advocacy to address the social determinants of poor health in low-income and immigrant communities.
Dina Shek, JD
Dina Shek is a licensed attorney in the state of Hawai‘i. She is a proud graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law where she currently serves as a Faculty Specialist. Prior to entering law school in 2003, she spent nearly ten years as a community organizer, educator and advocate for social and community justice. She also has extensive development and fundraising experience, all of it on behalf of the public sector. Dina holds a Master of Arts degree from San Francisco State University in Ethnic Studies (Asian American Studies). In 2012, Dina was named the Rhoda Lewis Award recipient presented by the Hawai‘i Women’s Legal Foundation, and she received the Distinguished Service Award from the Japanese American Citizens League (Honolulu Chapter) for her work with Micronesian communities in Hawai‘i. Hawai‘i Business Magazine recently featured Dina as one of their “20 for the Next 20: People to Watch in 2013.”
Alicia Turlington, MD
Alicia Turlington graduated from Providence College with a Bachelor of Science. She next attended the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California for her MD. She completed her pediatric residency training through the University of Hawai‘i at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children. During her residency, Alicia worked closely with the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawai‘i at Kokua Kalihi Valley alongside co-founder Dr. Chris Derauf. After serving as Chief Resident at the University of Hawai‘i, she began working full-time at Kokua Kalihi Valley and serving as the MLPC Medical Director. Alicia is also an Instructor in the Dept. of Pediatrics at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. Her interests lie in advocating for children in poverty and social justice aspects of medical care.
Clinical programs at the University of Hawai'i
One of the most important aspects of MLPC is that we provide year-round clinical opportunities for law students and other graduate students in public health, nursing, social work, education, and other disciplines. We know that students who train together across disciplines become professionals who work collaboratively and without silos.
Fernando Cosio, JD
MLPC Staff Attorney
Fernando Cosio is a graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law who was recently admitted to the Hawai‘i State and Federal Bar. Fernando was a member of UH Law School’s Ulu Lehua Scholars program, selected for his commitment to community and social justice. Throughout his law school career, Fernando was a standout for his work with the Hawai'i Innocence Project and the Hispanic Moot Court competition.
Catherine Chen, JD
MLPC Immigration Attorney
Catherine Chen is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, where she participated in the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, Immigration Legal Services Clinic, International Refugee Assistance Project, and Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project. She was selected for a prestigious Liman Fellowship to work with MLPC. Prior to joining MLPC, Catherine clerked for the Honorable Kim M. Wardlaw of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Deja Ostrowski, JD
MLPC Staff Attorney
Deja Ostrowski is a graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law and comes to MLPC with extensive experience in civil rights advocacy, health policy, and community organizing. Deja served as the Public Policy Advocate for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and previously held positions with Domestic Violence Action Center, Hawai'i Civil Rights Commission, and Hawai'i Appleseed Center for Law & Economic Justice. She is also a Tier 1 registered interpreter in Thai. In 2019, Deja was appointed to serve on the Hawai'i Commission on the Status of Women.