Katie Kamelamela, Jennifer Romero, Democratic Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and ‘Alohi Bikle - Photo: Courtesy

Native Hawaiians are significantly impacted by federal policy and its implementation – yet many of these policy decisions are made thousands of miles from our shores, often by policymakers with little knowledge of the Native Hawaiian community.

The Kamehameha Schools and Office of Hawaiian Affairs are attempting to address these challenges through the Native Hawaiian Congressional Fellowship, which just wrapped up its first year. The two Native Hawaiian-serving organizations are pleased to announce the commencement of a second round.

The Native Hawaiian Congressional Fellowship is a commitment to developing ʻōiwi leaders who can help shape society through political participation. Fellows spend nine months working in Congressional offices, with opportunities for individual mentorships and private meetings with senior policymakers.

The fellowship was launched as part of OHA’s Native Hawaiian Public Service Pipeline, which also includes internships and other opportunities to learn about and influence federal policy, with the ultimate goal of developing leaders who will help make positive advances in their lives and our community.

The fellowship’s first cohort was made up of three women with distinct backgrounds and interests. Catelin Aiwohi, posted in the Office of Senator Brian Schatz, came to D.C. after working in the education field. ʻAlohi Bikle, Fellow for U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono, worked in communications before heading to D.C. Congresswoman Gabbard’s Fellow, Katie Kamelamela, was and is in the process of finishing her Ph.D. in Botany at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa.

All three women note the importance not just of their personal experiences through this fellowship, but ensuring the opportunity to work within their communities to assist other kānaka in effectively engaging with the federal government.

Those interested in applying for the second round of the Native Hawaiian Congressional Fellowship should visit www.oha.org/dcinternships, or follow OHA on social media, to learn more about this and other fellowship opportunities.