News Briefs | December 2020


DOH Launches Safe Gatherings Campaign for Holidays

The holiday season is a time for celebrations and parties, but large gatherings are the primary cause of COVID-19 clusters.

To demonstrate how to gather safely with ʻohana, friends, and co-workers, the Hawaiʻi Department of Health has produced a new campaign called “How to Gather. For Real.” The campaign offers practical guidance that is consistent with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two public service announcements — one focusing on gatherings with family and friends and the other on workplace gatherings — began airing in early November on TV, radio, online, in print, and on social media. These messages will continue through the end of the year.

“The public service announcements depict real-life scenarios and tips that we can all use to gather and interact with others in a safer way,” said Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char. “We urge the public to follow these practices and help us reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

To help drive the message home, the Department of Health enlisted the support of local personalities. In the first spot, Chelei Kahalewai provides tips about celebrating her aunty’s birthday in a new way. Kahalewai is a content creator, known as @alohaitschelei on social media channels such as Instagram and TikTok.

The other spot about safe workplace gatherings features Daryl Bonilla, an actor and stand-up comedian who enjoys entertaining audiences with his local-style humor.

While the new guidelines help make gatherings safer, it is important to remember that virtual celebrations still pose the lowest risk for spread. The “How to Gather. For Real” public service announcements can be viewed at

Common Ground Kauaʻi Launches Food Innovation Center

Photo: Common Ground Aerial View
Aerial view of Common Ground Kauaʻi. – Photo: Mike Coots

Reimagining agricultural-based commerce in Hawaiʻi, on November 17 Common Ground Kauaʻi launched the Food Innovation Center to scale an integrated system of businesses built around high value-added agricultural products.

“The COVID-19 crisis reconfirmed the need for Kauaʻi to chart a new course, one that embraces innovation, economic diversification, and lays the foundation for a more resilient future,” said Derek Kawakami, mayor of Kauaʻi.

“I applaud Common Ground Kauaʻi for stepping up to deliver viable economic development solutions like the Food Innovation Center to serve the immediate needs of our community and invest in the long-term sustainability of our island home.”

The Food Innovation Center is founded on a collaborative economic model that can be applied throughout the Hawaiian Islands to enhance food security, test product innovation, create jobs, and foster economic empowerment.

Common Ground Kauaʻi is a hub for the global idea exchange of important issues facing Hawaiʻi. Through public and private partnerships, Common Ground unites change-makers — thinkers, creators, designers, innovators and doers — to produce economic development programs and services to grow a diversified economy on Kauaʻi and beyond.

The Food Innovation Center is designed to transform the supply chain that feeds into the future of a thriving and resilient 21st century food economy. Through farming, accelerator, incubator and distribution initiatives, Common Ground is a test bed for developing the next generation of Hawaiʻi-based food producers while building a model that can scale to meet a global demand for goods.

“Investing in local businesses and building robust supply chains are central to Common Ground’s mission,” explained Jennifer Luck, director of program development and community impact at Common Ground Kauaʻi. “The Food Innovation Center is an economic development roadmap for entrepreneurs, innovators, small businesses, and farmers to scale both ideas and products for consumer demand.”

KS College Scholarship Applications for 2021-22

Kamehameha Schools offers multiple college scholarships in one application, including the Nā Hoʻokama a Pauahi, Hoʻokawowo and Mauō scholarships. KS college scholarships are available to undergraduate and graduate students who demonstrate financial need and a commitment to contribute to the lāhui.

The Hoʻokawowo scholarship is for graduate and undergraduate students pursuing careers in pre-K-12 Hawaiian culture-based education. The need-based scholarship acknowledges the growing need for more teachers in Hawaiʻi by encouraging students seeking degrees in education, Hawaiian language and Hawaiian studies to enter Hawaiian culture-based and Hawaiian immersion teaching careers.

The Mauō scholarship is available to individuals committed to fields of study that preserve our honua and is a collaboration with Arizona State University. This scholarship is available to those who are pursuing an undergraduate degree, demonstrate financial need and have a desire to attend ASU’s School of Sustainability and other campus-based programs.

Nā Hoʻokama a Pauahi, Hoʻokawowo and Mauō scholarship applications are due by Jan. 15, 2021.

The Pauahi Foundation offers various scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students. As KS’ philanthropic and advancement arm, scholarships are funded by private individual and organizational donors. Pauahi Foundation Scholarship applications are available on Dec. 21, 2020 and are due by Jan. 29, 2021.

To apply, visit Students must demonstrate financial need to qualify. KS gives preference to applicants of Hawaiian ancestry to the extent permitted by law.

ACF and ANA Grant Opportunity Forecast

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) announces that it will be soliciting applications for the Native American Language Preservation and Maintenance program.

This program provides funding for projects to support assessments of the status of the native languages in an established community, as well as the planning, designing, restoration and implementing of native language curriculum and education projects to support a community’s language preservation goals.

Native American communities include American Indian tribes (federally recognized and non-federally recognized), Native Hawaiians, Alaskan Natives, and Native American Pacific Islanders.

Deadline to apply for the grant is April 23, 2021. The grants, which will range from $100,000 to $300,000, are expected to be awarded in July 2021. For more information, visit

Job Applications Being Accepted for 2021 Legislative Session

The Hawaiʻi House of Representatives is accepting job applications for the upcoming 2021 legislative session. Working at the Hawaiʻi State Legislature offers individuals an opportunity to experience firsthand what it’s like to work in a dynamic public service organization, work closely with elected officials and the public, and learn more about the legislative process.

Session jobs require up to a five-month commitment, depending upon the position. Most positions begin in January 2021 and end on the last day of the legislative session.

Employees working 20 hours or more per week are eligible for health insurance including drug, dental and vision coverage.

To apply, email your resume and a cover letter indicating the positions desired to: All resumes submitted will be available for review by the individual representative and agency offices.

More information about employment opportunities with the Hawaiʻi State House of Representatives can be found online at

Chaminade Receives Grant for New Doctoral Program in Nursing

Chaminade University of Honolulu

Furthering its mission to strengthen island health professions, Chaminade University has received a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education in support of a new Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

The university will receive $450,000 each year for the next five years under the Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions Program, which was designed to assist eligible institutions of higher education in serving Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians.

Chaminade’s new DNP degree program was created to assist with the community’s need for more Advanced Practice Nurses (Nurse Practitioners) to address the shortage of primary care providers in Hawaiʻi, and in response to student demand for health-related professional degrees.

The launch of the DNP program is tied to Chaminade’s 2019-2024 Strategic Plan, which focuses on responding to the dynamic needs of the workforce through the development of more community-focused programs.

“Hawaiʻi is facing a critical shortage of primary care providers as many physicians are retiring or leaving the state. At the same time, our population is aging, requiring care for chronic health conditions. Advance Practice Nurses working collaboratively with physicians will address these healthcare needs and mitigate the physician shortage,” said Dr. Lynn Babington, president of Chaminade University.

For additional information on the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, and other programs offered through Chaminade, visit:

Kauaʻi’s Kiʻilani Arruda is Miss Teen USA

Kiʻilani Arruda, reigning Miss Teen Hawaiʻi, has been named Miss Teen USA.

She is the first teen from Kauaʻi, and second from the state, to win the Miss Teen USA title. Arruda was awarded the crown on November 7 in Memphis, Tennessee.

Kamehameha alumna Kelly Hu won the same competition in 1985.

“I plan to use this platform to help advocate for those with autism, like my little brother. This is a dream come true for me,” Arruda said.

Arruda graduated from Island School this year with a 4.0 GPA, was the student body president, and was a member of the varsity volleyball, swim, and track and field teams.

She is currently attending the University of Puget Sound as a distance learner, studying molecular and cellular biology. Arruda will continue her education at the Stanford University School of Medicine to become a dermatologist.

“I want to say a big thank you to my mom Napualani, my dad Kaipo Kealalio, my little sister Lea and my little brother Channing for always being there for me and supporting my dreams,” Arruda told The Garden Island newspaper.

“They have really been the backbone of this whole entire experience; I love you guys so much.”

Ronelle Valera crowned Miss Collegiate America

Photo: Ronelle Valera
Ronelle Valera – Photo: Courtesy

On September 14, Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi graduate Ronelle Valera was named Miss Collegiate America. She was named Miss Hawaiʻi Collegiate in January 2020.

She is currently a student at Warner Pacific University in Portland, Oregon, where she majors in social work.

Valera has worked with the homeless in San Francisco through Project Open Hand, and has also served a mission in Costa Rica. As Miss Collegiate Hawaiʻi, she assisted residents of the Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home in Hilo.

She also launched a campaign against bullying.

The Miss Collegiate America Pageant took place in Little Rock, Arkansas. This competition provides personal and professional opportunities for young women currently enrolled in a university, trade school, or a continuing education program.

Valera won a new JL Jeep Wrangler Sport and $100,000 in scholarships, trips, wardrobe, and additional prizes.

Native Hawaiian Directors Honored at Los Angeles Film Festival

In October, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF), presented by Visual Communications, announced the award winners for its 36th edition of the festival. It is the largest festival of its kind in Southern California.

Director Christopher Kahunahana was presented the Grand Jury Award for Best North American Narrative Feature for his work on Waikīkī.

Jurists said it is “an immersive film that highlights the fantasy and reality of Hawaiʻi that is constantly being negotiated by local and native peoples. This work counters the mainstream image of paradise we normally associate with the island state and the Pacific Rim.

“Through an elegiac and philosophical mode of storytelling, we’re taken on a journey of the real island state where Native Hawaiians continue to struggle on a daily basis with job instability, domestic and racialized abuses, mental health issues, and the ongoing generational trauma of postcolonial cultures. The strong direction, cinematography, music, and lead performances impressed the jury and left us collectively haunted by the film after the fact.”

A Special Jury Award for Cinematography went to Ryan Miyamoto of Waikīkī as well.

In the Shorts Competition section, jurors awarded the Festival Golden Reel Award for Best Documentary Short to Standing Above the Clouds, directed by Jalena Keane-Lee.

The jury shared that Standing Above the Clouds “puts us on the frontlines with intergenerational women activists fighting to protect Hawaiʻi’s sacred mountain Mauna Kea from a massive telescope development. This personal and moving project provides us an entry point to this community of mothers and daughters upholding a lineage of fighting for the land. We appreciate the directorial voice and gorgeous cinematography that went into creating this portrait of struggle and strength.”

In the Narrative and Documentary Short films category, a Special Jury Award for Acting went to Holden Mandrial-Santos and Austin Tucker of Molokaʻi Bound, directed by Alika Maikau.

The 36th LAAPFF ran online from Sept. 24 to Oct. 31, 2020, and featured an exciting lineup of productions by Asian American and Pacific Islander artists from across the globe. LAAPFF is a proud Academy Award-qualifying film festival for the Short Film Awards. For more information visit