100 years

Advancing Nonprofit Excellence
Ho‘okele Award

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The Ho‘okele Award pays tribute to leaders from the nonprofit sector – the guiding forces in our community who strive to make Hawai‘i a better place. Just as a steersman, Ho‘okele, 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 Hawai‘i’s people.

The Ho‘okele Award was made possible from 2002-2016 through a partnership between the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and the Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF). In 2017, HCF’s Board of Governors created the Kelvin Taketa Ho‘okele Leadership Award Fund in honor of Kelvin’s visionary leadership as former CEO of HCF. The Fund ensures that the award will continue in perpetuity.

Image of Deborah Zysman, Jessica Yamauchi, Brandee Menino

Deborah Zysman, Jessica Yamauchi, Brandee Menino

Congratulations to the 2019 Ho‘okele Award recipients

Brandee Menino
Chief Executive Officer, HOPE Services Hawai‘i, Inc.

Brandee Menino, as chief executive officer of HOPE Services Hawai‘i, Inc., an affiliate organization of the Roman Catholic Church, is focused on ending homelessness in Hawai‘i.

She has served as a nonprofit administrator, crisis counselor, outreach worker, board officer, and advocate. Brandee holds a master’s degree in professional counseling with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy from the American School of Professional Psychology and she earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. Inspired by the belief that serving others is a privilege, Brandee currently volunteers her time serving on three local nonprofit boards including as treasurer for Bay Clinic, Inc., as secretary for the Foodbasket, Hawai‘i Island’s Foodbank, and as director of the HMSA Foundation Board.

Jessica Yamauchi
Executive Director, Hawai‘i Public Health Institute

Jessica Yamauchi serves as executive director of the Hawai‘i Public Health Institute (HIPHI), which grew out of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i (CTFH).

The Coalition was originally founded in 1996 as a grassroots effort of like-minded organizations in response to the need for a long-term and sustained effort to reduce tobacco use in the state. Having served as executive director for HIPHI since 2012, Jessica has worked to pass several tobacco control policies, including raising the age of sale of tobacco products to 21 (first state in the nation) and including electronic smoking devices in Hawai‘i’s smoke-free air law (fourth state in the nation). In addition to tobacco control work, Jessica has been co-chair of the statewide obesity prevention task force (OPTF) which recently passed two legislative policies: Healthy-by-Default, including healthy beverages in kid’s meals (second state in the nation); and Double Up Food Bucks, increasing access to healthy foods for SNAP beneficiaries.

Deborah Zysman
Executive Director, Hawai‘i Children’s Action Network

Deborah Zysman serves as executive director of Hawai‘i Children’s Action Network (HCAN), the state’s only nonprofit committed solely to advocating for children. HCAN leads movements through analysis, education, advocacy, and coalition building so that all children in Hawai‘i are safe, healthy, and ready to learn. Deborah and her team are often spotted wearing HCAN’s signature superhero capes at events at the Capitol.

Under her direction, HCAN coordinated the “Be My Voice Hawai‘i” campaign advocating for preschool for all four-year-olds in Hawai‘i, and securing more than $22M to expand the state’s preschool programs. Currently, HCAN convenes coalitions focused on improving dental care for children, access to quality childcare/preschool for all families, and paid family leave. HCAN is proudly working to amplify the voices of other nonprofits by convening the Hawai‘i Children’s Policy Agenda and hearing from families with the Parent Leadership Training Institute.

Deborah, who previously served as executive director of the Coalition for Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i, is a Weinberg Fellow, winner of the 2017 AIM for Excellence in Nonprofit Management award, and one of Hawai‘i’s “Forty Under 40” designated by Pacific Business News. She serves on the board of AlohaCare, volunteers with Cub Scout Pack 33 (Mānoa), and is the past board president of Hawai‘i Public Health Association and Junior League of Honolulu.