Strengthening Hawaii's Communities

Advancing Nonprofit Excellence
Hookele Award

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The Hookele Award pays tribute to leaders from the nonprofit sector – the guiding forces in our community who strive to make Hawaii a better place. Just as a steersman, hookele, is key to guiding a canoe successfully to its destination, this award recognizes the significant role that a nonprofit leader plays in improving the quality of life for Hawaii’s people.

Since 2002, Hawaii Community Foundation in partnership with the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, has annually given four nonprofit leaders a $10,000 award for their personal development and renewal.

2017 Hookele Awards
Kevin Chang of Kuaaina Ulu Auamo, Micah Kane, Hawaii Community Foundation CEO and president, Pauline M. Sato of the Malama Learning Center, Brenda S. Ho, Hospice of Hilo CEO, Kelvin Taketa, Hawaii Community Foundation senior fellow, and Heather Lusk of Community Health Outreach Work Project, Hawaii

We congratulate the following 2017 Hookele Award recipients

Executive Director Kua aina Ulu Auamo

Kevin is Executive Director of Kua‘āina Ulu‘Auamo (KUA), whose mission is to increase the capacity of community-based resource management (CBRM) initiatives with a vision of ‘āina momona (literally, “fat lands”). KUA, meaning “backbone,” is an innovative“backbone organization” for protecting, restoring and caring for Hawai‘i. KUA’s community-driven approach currently supports three statewide networks, E Alu Pū, 40 Hawaiian fishpond projects, and a group of limu practitioners. Prior to KUA, Kevin was a land manager for the office of Hawaiian Affairs and a field representative for the Trust for Public Lands’ Hawaiian IslandsProgram. He also practiced law as a solo practitioner.Kevin was born in Honolulu and raised inAhuimanu Valley. A proud graduate of J.B. CastleHigh School, he earned a B.A. in Psychology and aJ.D. from the University of Oregon.He currently sits on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Commission on Environment, Economic and Social Policy, and the boards of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, the Hawai‘i Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations, and the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust O‘ahu Advisory Committee. Kevin is married to Alma Siria Vega Urias and, on occasion, to the band Kupa‘āina.

Chief Executive Officer Hospice of Hilo

Under the direction of CEO Brenda S. Ho, Hospice of Hilo has grown from a largely volunteer-based program serving 40 patients annually, to a structured Medicare program with 80 staff members who care for over 800 individuals a year. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in nursing (William Jewell College), but before receiving a Masters of Science in Nursing (the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa), Brenda joinedHospice of Hilo in 1990. Within a year, she was appointed Executive Director, a position that expanded in 2011 to her current role as CEO.Under her visionary leadership, Hospice of Hilo opened the first neighbor island inpatient care center in 2012. Brenda’s dedication to the community extends even further by serving on the boards of Kōkua Mau and the Hawai‘i Healthcare Systems Corporation’s East Hawaii Regional Board and as a member of the East Hawai‘i Regional Health Improvement Collaborative. She is President of the Rotary Club of South Hilo, a Weinberg Association Fellow, and recipient of numerous well-deserved honors including The Faces of Nursing award(UH); AIM for Excellence Award; Businesswoman of the Year Finalist (Pacific Business News);ATHENA Award® (Hawaii Island Chamber of commerce); and others.

Executive DirectorCommunity Health Outreach Work(CHOW) Project, Hawaii

Heather has dedicated more than 20 years to reducing health disparities and stigma as it relates to HIV, viral hepatitis, and other chronic conditions linked to substance use. In addition to serving as the Executive Director of the statewide arm reduction agency, CHOW, she is the Co-Director and Founder of Hep FreeHawai‘i, a coalition of over 80 agencies working together to eliminate hepatitis in the Islands.As Chair of the Hawai‘i AdvisoryCommission on Drugs and controlled substances, and through her role on the Executive Committee of Partners in Care, O‘ahu’s Homeless Coalition, Heather works to support systems integration and the intersection of mental health, substance use, homelessness, chronic health conditions, and the criminal justice system.Heather approaches her work with individuals, families, and communities adversely affected by drug use as if we were all ‘ohana, which, she believes, would help everyone move forward from a place of compassion. The CHOW project has adopted a harm reduction approach, stressing the importance of being nonjudgmental and respectful: a philosophy that Heather Lusk fully embodies.

Executive & Program Director Mālama Learning Center

Pauline’s passion for protectingHawai‘i’s environment dates back to her childhood. In her 30 years of professional experience, she has helped to build a broad network of individuals and groups dedicated to the conservation of natural, cultural, and agricultural resources across the state.Pauline is the Executive and Program Director, as well as co-founder, of the Mālama Learning Center, whose mission is to teach and inspire communities to create healthy living environments. Mālama Learning Center uses hands-on and place-based approach to learning, preparing its participants for diverse real-world experiences and 21st-century careers.She also conducts a training program for the Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawaii and has served on several boards and councils, including the Hawai‘i EnvironmentalEducation Association, Hawai‘i Academy ofScience, and State of Hawai‘i Environmental Council. Pauline was honored with theDistinguished Service Award at the Hawai‘i Conservation Conference for a career that's been dedicated to environmental preservation.Pauline is a proud graduate of the University Laboratory School in Honolulu; she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan and a Masters in Educational Technology from the University of Hawaii.

Learn more about the current and past Hookele awardees.