Maui News

UH law student named 2022 Patsy Takemoto Mink legislative fellow

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UH law student Keoni Williams will work in US Rep. Kaialiʻi Kahele’s Washington office this summer as the 2022 Patsy Tekemoto Mink Legislative Fellow. Photo Courtesy: UH

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa law student Keoni Williams was named the 2022 Patsy Takemoto Mink Legislative Fellow.

Williams will spend the summer working in the Washington office of US Rep. Kaialiʻi Kahele, who currently holds the seat once occupied by Congresswoman Mink, the namesake of the fellowship.

Williams was one of the students in the inaugural Island Leadership Lab at UH’s William S. Richardson School of Law.


“He is an exemplary student and a brilliant person,” said UH law school dean Camille A. Nelson. “I have no doubt that he will continue to do great things that have a transformative impact. This fellowship will allow him to hone his already strong leadership skills in service of the greater good.”

Williams, a second-generation Micronesian American who has witnessed firsthand the discriminatory effects of the ambiguous status of his people, has a passion for uplifting and empowering his community, the UH news release said.

“These injustices sparked my interest in law and policy and are the personal experiences I think of when I reflect on Congresswoman Mink’s admonishment to use personal experiences to accomplish things that ensure others do not suffer the same discrimination,” Williams said.


Williams also is a recipient of the Graduate Degree Fellowship at the East-West Center, which provides funding support for future leaders in the Asia Pacific region.  

“At the East-West Center, Keoni has demonstrated his commitment to service as an elected member of our student board and has worked closely with the Pacific Islands Development Program, engaging with Pacific leaders at the highest levels on issues of regional importance,” said Ann Hartman, dean of the East-West Center Education Program. “He is a future leader with enormous potential to affect positive change locally, nationally, regionally and globally.”

This is the 20th year since then-law students Tannaz Simyar, Della Au Belatti, Annie Lee and Tania Cruz founded the Mink fellowship to honor and continue her legacy following her passing.  


“Just as the adversity Congresswoman Mink experienced as a Japanese American woman informed her policy priorities, I too am empowered by my identity and lived experiences,” Williams said.

To support the fellowship, visit


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