Shanna Y. Niehaus is a recent graduate of Hawai’i Pacific University. She achieved a Master of Public Administration in 2020, having previously earned a bachelor’s degree in diplomacy and military studies. Driven to pursue an education to break her family’s cycle of addiction and poverty, she is incredibly proud to be the first person in her family to graduate from college and continues to strive to build a better life for herself, her family and others who do not have the same opportunities she has. Presently, Ms. Niehaus is involved in a compassionate city research project, which seeks to make cities more compassionate and easier to navigate for individuals with disabilities.
Inspired to this work by her son, Kai, who has autism, Ms. Niehaus runs the Kainado blog about her son and his service dog, Tornado. She began the blog when they were living overseas in Tokyo and she realized how differently disability was perceived in Japan compared to the United States. Feeling it was important to strive for inclusivity and acceptance on an international level, she uses the blog’s platform to shed light on the lack of vital accommodations and to advocate for greater inclusion in spaces throughout the world. Of particular note is a blog post she wrote in 2016 that ended up going viral when it was featured on Love What Matters. This post brought attention to the use of service dogs as an accessibility aid and since then, she has been able to reach an even greater audience in her efforts for disability inclusion and advocacy.
In addition to her primary responsibilities, Ms. Niehaus has done considerable work with 4 Paws for Ability, a service dog training and placement organization, including numerous instances of public speaking on the organization’s behalf. She has also taught history at Inspire Studios, a nonprofit organization in Florida, and is a member of the American Society for Public Administration. During her time in Tokyo, she was part of a volunteer program with GIVE. In 2015, following the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, they went to the nearby town of Minamisanriku, where they put on art workshops to fundraise for the town’s rebuilding efforts and raised nearly $25,000.
For her excellence, Ms. Niehaus has been the recipient of a number of honors and accolades. In 2019, she was inducted into three separate honor societies for her academic achievements, Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society; the Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society, which named her a High Academic Achiever in History; and the Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society. She is also a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society.
Born in Los Angeles, Ms. Niehaus is the proud mother of two sons, Koa and the abovementioned Kai. Looking toward the future, she is making plans to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy and hopes to expand her blog to reach even more areas and demographics.