Makana Chai

Honolulu, Hawaii attorney R. Makana Risser Chai has 20+ years speaking and training with everyone from executives to entry-level in associations, banks, hospitality, education, utilities, government, agriculture, Fortune 100, and many small businesses and non-profits.

Combining head and heart with humor, her speeches and trainings are unlike any you’ve ever seen.


  • Authored the Prentice Hall book, Stay Out of Court! The Manager’s Guide to Preventing Employee Lawsuits.
  • Founded Employment Rights Attorneys law firm in San Jose.
  • Litigated employment cases for 10 years.
  • Advised CEOs and HR leaders.
  • Investigated harassment complaints.
  • Ran two companies and dealt with harassment claims as a manager.
  • Founded Fair Measures, a national company providing legal compliance training.

Well-Being Coach

  • Authored Mindful Multitasking: Timeless Techniques for a Vibrant Mind, Strong Body, Happy Heart & Light Spirit
  • Appointed by Hawaii Supreme Court to Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being.
  • Certified Stress & Wellness consultant, yoga and meditation instructor, Pilates instructor, lomilomi massage therapist, and forgiveness facilitator.
  • Authored Bishop Museum book on traditions of Hawaiian massage and healing
  • Received “Keep It Hawai‘i” Award for 2nd lomilomi book.

Speaker - Trainer

  • Inducted into Hawaii Speakers Hall of Fame.
  • Performed improv comedy in Honolulu.
  • Earned the Certified Speaking Professional designation from the National Speakers Association.
  • Facilitated 1,000+ programs on-line and on-site for executives, managers and employees in 38 states.
  • Received rave reviews at presentations for SHRM and ATD (formerly ASTD).
  • Invited to speak at the 2020 ATD International Conference and Exposition.

A personal word from Makana

The first week after I moved to Honolulu as an adult, I met a Native Hawaiian elder who “adopted” (hanai) me into her family (an ancient Hawaiian tradition). A few weeks later she gave me the name Makana, which means gift, because she said I was a gift to her family. I love this name and all my family, friends and clients in Hawaii use it. But since I have a decades-long body of work as Rita Risser, I also use the name Rita.

By the way, I got the name Chai because after that elder adopted me, she introduced me to her son. She became my mother-in-law! My husband, Mark Chai, is internationally recognized for his lighting design and art 

One of my greatest joys has been being welcomed as a life member of the Hawaiian Lomilomi Association – ‘Ahahui Lomilomi Hawai‘i. In the photo below, that’s me in the big hat on the left with the people I love, kumu (teachers) and students of traditional Hawaiian massage.

Makana Chai
Makana Chai group shot

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