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Ka Ipu Kukui Accepting Applications for 2021-2022 Fellows Program

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Lauren Akitake, Tyson Miyake, Teana Kahoʻohanohano, Rebecca Kapolei Kiʻili, Farron Cabral, Randall Parabicoli, Carissa Holley, Mackenzie Ajimura, Jeeyun Lee, Ashley Takitani Leahey, Chris Sugidono, Jason Hew, Riley Coon, Buddy James Nobriga.

Ka Ipu Kukui program completed its 13th year with a Graduation Ceremony at the Imua Discovery Garden in Wailuku on June 4, 2021 and is now seeking applicants for its 14th cohort.

A Decisions Maui and Focus Maui Nui initiative, Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows program is typically a year-long program designed to help develop and train future leaders not only to identify challenges, but more importantly, to overcome them.

The 2020 graduating class overcame challenges as the longest class in the history of the program after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the program and completion of the program was celebrated a year after the class originally planned for.

“We are so excited to see what the future holds for this year’s cohort. They have certainly shown our community their resilience and commitment to Maui Nui during the pandemic with hosting fundraisers, delivering food to front line workers, all while continuing to work and take care of families in the midst of a global pandemic,” said Leilani Pulmano, Ka Ipu Kukui Board Chair.

Ka ipu kukui means crucible of light; a test and a furnace for seeking and taking the best path ahead.


“Maui Nui occupies a special place in the state, country and world, but as all of us know, we face many challenges that could very well erode the unique splendor of these special islands,” states Scott Nunokawa, Ka Ipu Kukui Founding Board member.


From concerns and beliefs expressed first by Decisions Maui in the 1980s and reinforced by the 2003 Focus Maui Nui visioning process, Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows was conceived to provide significant help in identifying and developing leaders through a community-based program specifically designed to address all aspects of planning for Maui Nui’s future.

Each month, the program’s content focuses on the multiple perspectives of Maui’s different challenges. Through these monthly learning opportunities known as Halawai, participants develop a holistic appreciation and understanding of these unique challenges, ultimately arriving at a more informed framework and a more enhanced network to better address Maui Nui’s challenges in the future.

Halawai include topics such as infrastructure, community planning, sustainability, fiscal policy, county and state governance, water and energy. After 13 years graduating a total of 170 individuals, plans are to continue enhancing the program.


The graduation also created the opportunity to thank founding members of the Board of Directors, Roselle Bailey and Dr. Clyde Sakamoto for their leadership since the program’s inception as they retired from the board.

Candace Thackerson, Troy Hashimoto, Clyde Sakamoto, Roselle Bailey

Applications are currently being accepted for the 2021-2022 Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows program. The program requires active participation during the year, for approximately two to three days each month, depending on the activities planned. Approximately 15 fellows will be selected through a competitive process conducted by the board of directors of Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows Program. Applicants will then be notified by early August.

The deadline for applications is July 15, 2021.

“The program has laid the foundation for me to understand the core values, infrastructure, assets and pain points of this unique county so that I can use the knowledge, skillset and network to use my nonprofit leadership skills more effectively,” says Ka Ipu Kukui AlJeeyun Lee, “It took me over a decade to learn this on Oʻahu and within one year, this program has armed me with the knowledge and skills to be a value add and leader to the Maui Nui community faster, and more effectively.”

The Board of Directors of Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows are: Troy Hashimoto, Rhiannon Chandler, Tambara Garrick, Katie McMillian-Gordon, Amber Hardwick, Scott Nunokawa, Leilani Pulmano, Jeanne Skog, Marc Takamori, Lianne Yoshida, Logan McBarnet and Candace Thackerson.

The 2021 graduates of Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows are: Mackenzie Ajimura, Pūlama Lānaʻi; Lauren Akitake, Law Office of Lauren M. Akitake, LLC; Farron Cabral, Maui Electric; Riley Coon, Trilogy Excursions; Jason Hew, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service; Carissa Holley, Hale Makua Health Services and Blue Zones Project; Teana Kahoʻohanohano, Hale Makua Health Services; Rebecca Kapolei Kiʻili, Maui Kaiapuni Schools; Jeeyun Lee, Imua Family Services and ChangeWorks Hawaii; Tyson Miyake, County of Maui; Buddy James Nobriga, Roselani Ice Cream; Randall Parabicoli, Maui Oil Company; Chris Sugidono, Munekiyo Hiraga; Ashley Takitani Leahey, Blue Zones Project and ʻOhana Pacific.

Those interested in this program or who know of an individual to nominate, please visit for information on how to apply.

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