Lahela Williams was announced as Hawaiian Community Assets’ (HCA) new Executive Director at the 18th Annual Native Hawaiian Convention on Sept. 24. She will succeed existing Executive Director, Jeff Gilbreath, who transitions to Director of Lending and Development responsible for managing the organization’s loan fund and social enterprise, Hawaii Community Lending (HCL).
On October 1st, Williams will take the lead of the Native Hawaiian nonprofit after the completion of a 36-month executive transition plan that has been overseen by the organization’s board. Born and raised in the Kewalo Hawaiian Homestead in the Papakölea Region, she brings with her 20 years of community development experience and a background in local, state, and federal policy advocacy. Most recently, Williams served as HCA’s Deputy Director where she managed the state’s largest HUD housing counseling program, a network of Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs), and the deployment of $1.3 million in match savings grants to Native Hawaiians statewide.
“I am humbled and excited about the opportunity to serve as the Executive Director of Hawaiian Community Assets. We have an amazing team of dedicated staff and volunteers across the state and are ready to expand our network of FOCs to Kauaʻi and Maui Counties over the next 18 months,” shared Williams as she addressed the convention attendees.
Under Williams’ leadership, HCA will expand its FOCs statewide and launch the state’s new Hawaiʻi Housing Affordability Coalition, while HCL grows to $15 million in consumer and affordable housing loans targeting local and Hawaiian households unable to qualify at credit unions or banks.
“After 19 years, HCA’s leadership remains committed to our original vision,” said HCA co-founder and affordable housing advocate, Kehaulani Filimoeatu. “Lahela is a young, strong Native Hawaiian leader who is rooted in her homelands and will carry us forward for the next 20 years, fighting for the economic self-sufficiency of our Hawaiian and local communities.”