OHA Hires New Chief Advocate and New Communications Director

Photo: Na‘unanikina‘u Kamali‘i
Na‘unanikina‘u Kamali‘i

Attorney Naʻunanikinaʻu Kamaliʻi, who was formerly a manager with the Queen’s Health Systems and Health Policy director for Papa Ola Lōkahi, brings her private practice law experience to serve as OHA’s new chief advocate. Public relations professional Alice Malepeai Silbanuz, who has been with OHA for 10 years, most recently as the Interim Community Engagement director, has been named OHA’s new Communications director.

Both will support the implementation of OHA’s Mana i Mauli Ola Strategic Plan – which focuses on the areas of education, health, housing, and economic self-sufficiency – to advance OHA’s mission to increase wellbeing for Native Hawaiians.

Kamaliʻi will lead OHA’s Advocacy Division and oversee mission-aligned public policy development, implementation, compliance, monitoring, and evaluation, as well as manage the fulfillment of OHA’s role as a co-trustee for the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. She will work closely with OHA’s Community Engagement director and the agency’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief on related public policy matters.

Kamali ʻi comes to OHA with decades of experience engaging with Indigenous peoples, tribes, Native Hawaiians and Native Hawaiian organizations, including the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, internationally, in Washington, D.C., and in Hawaiʻi. She is also a skilled private facilitator, mediator and family law mediator who for over 10 years served as a per diem Family Court judge (Ret.)

“Naʻu’s depth of experience in advocacy, policy development, implementation and monitoring will serve OHA well and we are very pleased to have her on board to lead our Advocacy team,” said OHA Ka Pouhana/CEO Dr. Sylvia Hussey. “We’re excited to bring on a professional of Naʻu’s caliber, and we know that her leadership will be a great asset as we prepare for a new legislative session and continue our efforts to advocate for Native Hawaiian rights.”

“I look forward to working with our Hawaiian people and policymakers to find resolve in hoʻoponopono and policy,” Kamaliʻi said.

Photo: Alice Silbanuz

The communications director is a newly created position through OHA’s reorganization. Under the new structure, Silbanuz will report directly to CEO Hussey. Silbanuz will oversee OHA’s Communications program and six Beneficiary Service Centers located on Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Maui, Molokaʻi, West Hawaiʻi (Kailua-Kona) and East Hawaiʻi (Hilo). She will work closely with OHA leadership to develop organizational messaging, strategic communications campaigns, and will serve as the agency’s media relations lead.

Silbanuz has 20 years of professional communications experience in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific region in both government and nonprofit sectors. During her 10 years of service at OHA, Silbanuz has been responsible for overseeing various OHA communications campaigns, and for guiding the production of the organization’s acclaimed video stories, its monthly Hawaiian community newspaper Ka Wai Ola and managing OHA’s social media platforms. Silbanuz is the former communications director at Le Fetuao Samoan Language Center, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to language revitalization.

“Alice has proven to be a valued leader of OHA’s award-winning Digital and Print Media team and, as OHA’s Interim Community Engagement director, she served the organization well,” Hussey said. “Alice is a tireless worker with a skill set that crosses all communications platforms. She is so well respected at OHA, and I am glad to see her continue to develop as a leader and serve this organization.”

“I’m deeply honored to continue serving the Native Hawaiian community in this new, increased capacity and excited to lead our dedicated team of communications and beneficiary services professionals. I look forward to growing the capacity of our team to ensure excellence in our internal and external communications, and to provide responsive and caring service to our beneficiaries across the pae ʻāina. Promoting the wellbeing of our beneficiaries and uplifting the lāhui is at the heart of what we are trying to achieve,” Silbanuz said.