Donna Kaliko Santos

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Photo: Donna Kaliko Santos

Beneficiary Service Agent
Hui Huliāmahi (Beneficiary Services)
25 years at OHA

From: Haʻikū and Kīpū (ahupuaʻa), Puna (moku), Kauaʻi (mokupuni)
Education:

  • Kauaʻi High School
  • Kauaʻi Community College

What is your kuleana at OHA?

I am currently a Beneficiary Services Agent. I serve as a liaison/conduit for my community to the services and programs that OHA provides – like the Hawaiian Registry Program, Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund and our Grants Program – as well as with other resources in our community that can help our beneficiaries in their particular situations. I also help OHA to connect with Kauaʻi community issues.

Why did you choose to work for OHA?

I came to OHA at the request of Carmen “Boots” Panui who needed help in the Kauaʻi office as a temp-hire and that turned into a full-time position.

What is the best thing about working at OHA?

The fun people I work with, of course! I enjoy learning from them.

What is something interesting for people to know about you?

I have worked with every OHA Kauaʻi community liaison (although that title has changed throughout the years) and I have worked with every OHA Kauaʻi/Niʻihau trustee since the organization was formed.

Who has been your role model?

There are many: Carmen Panui, the Kauaʻi community liaisons Iʻve worked with over the years, the OHA trustees representing Kauaʻi and Niʻihau, and all the kūpuna who have poured into me their ʻike, moʻolelo and passion. Iʻve been paying it forward ever since.

What is your best OHA memory?

I had been with OHA for some time and at a community meeting I was attending I realized that the meeting facilitator looked so familiar. During the first break, I went over to introduce myself – only to realize that it was the former OHA administrator who actually hired me! We have laughed about that ever since – and now I never forget her face!