Hawai‘i Supreme Court Justice Sabrina McKenna Receives Prestigious Award

The 2023 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award honors her as a trailblazer for women and the LGBTQ community.


Justice Sabrina Mckenna with the other Hawaii Supreme Court Justices Jan 2023

In March 2011, Judge Sabrina McKenna was sworn in as an associate justice of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court. From left: Associate Justice James Duffy Jr., Associate Justice Paula Nakayama, Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Associate Justice Simeon Acoba Jr. and McKenna. Photo: Hawai‘i State Judiciary


Hawai‘i Supreme Court Justice Sabrina McKenna this week, Aug. 6,  receives a prestigious national legal honor also earlier presented to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the late U.S. Rep. Patsy Takemoto Mink.


The 2023 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, presented by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession, recognizes five outstanding women lawyers each year who have achieved professional excellence and paved the way for other women in the legal profession.


McKenna was nominated by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, which described her as “a globally recognized trailblazer, a staunch advocate for diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, and a true role model, mentor and heroine to women, especially in the LGBTQ and underrepresented communities.” The nomination recognized her courage “and most importantly, her tireless dedication to inspiring and uplifting women and traditionally marginalized people with compassion, positivity and optimism.”


In March, HONOLULU Magazine recognized her as one of the inspiring women making Hawai‘i better through their work.



Justice Sabrina Mckenna Supreme Court Portrait H Jan 2023

Photo: Aaron K. Yoshino


“I am extremely humbled by this recognition,” McKenna said. “I have been the beneficiary of the vision and leadership of women like Patsy Takemoto Mink, whom I consider my hero and guiding inspiration, to serve our community and motivate women to learn the law and use it to better the world.


“I consider myself fortunate to have grown up a biracial, bilingual and bicultural Asian American, lesbian immigrant woman, raised by a single mother from age 9, because it has shaped who I am,” she said. “My life experiences have taught me to bring sensitivity to those who may not have been born into a life of privilege and to bring compassion to the court.”


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Justice Mckenna Original Img 2040

Photo: Courtesy of Sabrina McKenna

Hawai‘i Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald praised the honor as one that McKenna deserves. “This is the highest award for women lawyers nationwide and the Hawai‘i State Judiciary is absolutely overjoyed and so proud of her.”


McKenna received her award on Sunday, Aug. 6, at the 33rd annual ceremony in Denver, Colorado.


For more about Hawai‘i’s court system, visit courts.state.hi.us.