The Hawaiʻi Women’s Legal Foundation (HWLF), formerly known as the Hawaiʻi Women Lawyers Foundation, was established in 1982. The women who founded HWLF’s sister organization, Hawaiʻi Women Lawyers (HWL), saw the need to create an entity that would share many of the same goals and ideals as HWL but that could raise funds as a nonprofit entity for the common goals of empowering and preserving the legal rights of women and children and the advancement of women in the legal profession.

Over the years, through its fundraising activities, HWLF has distributed funds through grant awards to worthy Hawaiʻi organizations. Our Grants page has a partial list of grantees.


HWLF is led by a Board of Directors whose members are representative of the remarkable diversity, strength and talent within the legal, business and nonprofit communities.

Special HWLF Awards

HWLF annually presents the Rhoda Lewis Award, which is named after the first female member of the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court, to a woman attorney who has devoted her career to public service. The award is presented at HWLF’s Annual Meeting.

Each year HWLF also presents two awards, one each in the name of Fred Schutte and Nancy Stivers, to current law students at the William S. Richardson University of Hawaiʻi School of Law. The awards, given in conjunction with the Advocates for Public Interest Law, enables those students to intern with public interest organizations during the summer recess.

C. Frederick Schutte, Esq. (1921 – 1988)

Fred Schutte was born and raised in Hawaiʻi and attended Roosevelt High School and the University of Hawaiʻi. He became a highly prominent member of the Hawaiʻi legal community, serving as President of the Hawaiʻi State Bar Association (which has named its annual award for pro bono service in his honor), long-time Chairman of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Hawaiʻi, and senior partner of Cades Schutte. He was also an early and enthusiastic supporter of the law school, a lifelong student of the English language, and a devoted feminist, who helped to form Hawaiʻi Women’s Legal Foundation in order to support the work of Hawaiʻi Women Lawyers and benefit the women and children of Hawaiʻi.

Nancy J. Stivers, Esq. (1949-1983)

While serving as President of Hawaiʻi Women Lawyers, Nancy became the founding President of the Hawaiʻi Women’s Legal Foundation. A native of California, she came to love Hawaiʻi. Energetic, engaged, and dedicated to equality for women, Nancy was a realistic idealist, who had a vision of a better world, a practical sense of how to get there, and the ability to persuade others to join the effort.