University of Hawai'i

Maui Community College

Lee Stein's Biography


Lee Stein's Biography

     I began noticing injustice in the world around me when I was about four years old. I think that this is largely due to the fact that my parents were very active in the civil and women’s rights movements when I was born and spoke often of “our” responsibility to do something to correct the inequities that surround us. As a result, my empathy for the plight of those less fortunate was well developed at an early age.


            I arrived on Maui in my early 20’s (in 1969) and immediately enrolled in courses at Maui Community College. After a year I transferred to UH Manoa for a little over a year before I returned to Maui. While I knew that I wanted to be a social worker, I did not believe that completing college was necessary in order to do so. I did not officially re-enroll in college courses until 1994! Even though I had a 22 year-long break from college, I continued my “informal” social work education in the domestic violence movement on Maui. After a year as an advocate for battered women at Hale Loko Maikai, Women Helping Women’s shelter, I founded the Alternatives to Violence program. This program served men, women, and children whose lives were impacted by domestic violence. Shortly thereafter, the program expanded to serve the islands of Molokai and Lanai. Alternatives to Violence and the Maui Family Court were nationally recognized as one of the top three comprehensive domestic violence intervention systems in the nation by the Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in 1992.

            After experiencing what is commonly referred to as “burnout”, I left Alternatives to Violence and Hawaii in 1991 for adventures in New Mexico. There, seeking a new identity, I became a massage therapist. I came back to Hawaii in 1992 to study LomiLomi with Aunty Margaret Machado and others – skills that I took back to New Mexico. In 1995 I decided that it was time to finally get my Bachelors degree so that I could attain the foundation necessary to achieve my dream – a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW). I received my undergraduate degree from the University of New Mexico in the summer of 1997 at the age of 50! I discovered that I LOVED school!

            Missing Hawaii terribly, I decided that I would finally set my sights on my MSW. I was accepted into the program at the UH Manoa School of Social Work in the fall of 1997. I spent 1 ˝ years as an intern working in a half-way house for women released from prison. I wrote my Master’s thesis on Hawaiian Women Incarcerated for Drug Related Crime. After the most thrilling learning experience of my life, I graduated in May 1997 and returned immediately to Maui where I became the Executive Director of Malama Family Recovery Center and became a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC). Toward the end of 2000, I read an advertisement in the Maui News for a full-time human services instructor at MCC and the rest is history! In January 2001 I became the first full time social services instructor at the college.