Photo: AHCC club leaders
>Association of Hawaiian Civic Club leaders: Leilani Williams-Solomon (treasurer), Julian Ako (first vice president), Hailama Farden (president), Annelle Amaral (immediate past president) and DreanaLee Kalili (second vice president). - Photo: Courtesy

The 59th annual convention of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs was held on Kaua‘i, hosted by Moku o Manokalanipō, the Kaua‘i Council of the AHCC. This year’s theme was Mai Loko Mai o Ke Kumu Maoli, with more than 350 people convening on Kaua‘i for this year’s meeting.

We began the convention with workshops from the community, including lawmaker State Senator Kai Kahele, and representatives from state agencies like the Department of Transportation and the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, community capacity groups such as the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, the Kamehameha Schools, and cultural practitioners.

As always, some of the best memories at conventions like these are the casual conversations over breakfast, impromptu kanikapila sessions in the hallways, and catching up with ‘ohana and long-lost friends from other islands. But that’s not to say that convention was not full of business activity.

Perhaps the most exciting news of the convention was the election of the Association’s new leadership. Hailama Farden was elected Pelekikena, President of the Association, while Julian Ako was elected First Vice President and DreanaLee Kalili was elected Second Vice President and Leilani Williams-Solomon was re-elected as Treasurer. They are joined by new officers on the respective councils as well as individual clubs. I am excited to see what this new slate of leadership will bring to our Association and for our people.

We got an early sample of this new energy when our new Pelekikena Hailama Farden gave a rousing and inspiring speech of his plans for the Association. Coming from an ‘ohana of civic club leaders, he shared his experiences growing up in the civic club movement. He called for increased civic identity, more involvement from our ‘ōpio, and a stronger emphasis on the value of kākou, and inclusive unity amongst our members, clubs, and the Association as a whole. Importantly, he made a call for a growth in membership and membership development. Specifically, Hailama called for an increase of individual club memberships by 10 percent. This is something I kāko‘o.

Mahalo to outgoing Pelekikena Annelle Amaral and her executive board and committee chairs for their outstanding service to our clubs and moreover to our lāhui. Annelle will continue to serve the AHCC in the capacity as Pelekikena Iho Nei, immediate past president.

Mahalo to Kaua‘i Council for a great convention! I am energized for the year ahead and the exciting work that lies ahead for the Association to benefit our lāhui.