We begin 2019 at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs on exciting and promising notes with two new Trustees, a new Board leadership and even new staff on our executive team.
In December, we held the oath of office for our newly elected Trustees, Kalei Akaka and Brendon Kalei‘āina Lee, and the three Trustees re-elected to new terms. The new Board organized its leadership, and I am humbled to share that I return as your Chairperson for another term. I am especially encouraged that I was elected as Chair with the unanimous support of my colleagues. It is a powerful statement to our community that OHA is moving forward in the spirit of lōkahi.
Joining me as the Board’s Vice Chair is Trustee Kalei‘āina Lee. Trustee Leina‘ala Ahu Isa will chair our Resource Management Committee with Trustee Robert Lindsey and Vice Chair, and Trustee John Waihe‘e IV will Chair the Beneficiary Advocacy and Empowerment Committee with Trustee Kalei Akaka as Vice Chair. Ho‘omaika‘i ‘ana to our new Board leadership! We are also excited to have welcomed Sylvia Hussey, Ed.D, as our new Chief Operating Officer.
We had a formal celebration of this new direction with OHA’s Investiture Ceremony, held last month at Washington Place. We were honored to be able to hold our Investiture in the home of our beloved Queen Lili‘uokalani, and to hear her music played by the talented Aaron Mahi.
OHA’s Investiture honored the memories of Queen Lili‘uokalani and our late U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka. Senator’s daughter, Millannie Mattson, was our keynote speaker and shared with us the work of her late father and his many accomplishments for Hawai‘i. We were reminded of the importance of working with aloha not just in Millannie’s remarks but also through Senator Akaka’s own words: “If at any time in your life you are given aloha, appreciate it, live and pass it on, because that’s the nature of aloha and that is the spirit of aloha – it means nothing unless you share it.”
The work before us may seem daunting at times, but I am strongly encouraged by the great winds of change at OHA and through the motivation of the legacies of Queen Lili‘uokalani and Senator Akaka. Our ancestors and leaders who have come before us give us the strength and conviction to holomua, and I am ready to tackle the challenges that lay ahead.