Maya serves as a consultant to the Obama Foundation, working closely with their international team to develop programming in the Asia Pacific region. Prior to her work with the Obama Foundation, she was the Director of the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa where, in addition to leading outreach and development initiatives, she also taught Leadership for Social Change, History of Peace Movements, Peace Education, and Conflict Management for Educators. She was awarded a master’s degree in Secondary Education from NYU’s College of Education and a PhD in Multicultural Education from the University of Hawaiʻi. For many years, she worked at the University of Hawaiʻi College of Education where she taught Multicultural Education, Social Studies Methods, and Peace Education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Maya has published a number of book contributions as well as a picture book entitled Ladder to the Moon and is currently under contract to write a Young Adult novel entitled Yellowwood. Maya sits on many voluntary boards and is the co-founder of the nonprofit Ceeds of Peace, which creates peacebuilding action plan workshops for educators, families and community leaders and is the co-founder of the Institute for Climate and Peace which advances effective and inclusive processes to build peaceful and climate-conscious futures for the wellbeing of all.
Ashleigh Loa was born and raised on Oʻahu, where she was nurtured by a community that instilled values such as compassion, kindness, and integrity from an early age. She remains committed to living out those values in her everyday work.
With a diverse background in the nonprofit sector, Ashleigh has gained invaluable experience, ranging from providing direct service as a housing specialist at a homeless shelter to leading as the executive director of an interfaith community organization focused on social justice issues and grassroots leadership development.
Ashleigh attributes her personal and professional growth and love for community to the mana wāhine of Wāhine Pōʻai, her 2022 Obama Foundation Leaders Asia-Pacific ʻohana, her many mentors, and the countless communities that taught her, challenged her, and uplifted her over the years.
In her free time, Ashleigh enjoys exploring different countries with her husband and two daughters, getting lost in Russian literature (her favorite book is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov), visiting new exhibits at the Bishop Museum, and building LEGO Architecture sets.
Scott Nishimoto is the former Executive Director and current Associate Director at Ceeds of Peace. Scott is also an Obama Leader in the inaugural Obama Foundation Leaders USA cohort, as well as a board member for Waiʻalae Public Charter School and Pacific Buddhist Academy. He was raised here on the island of O’ahu by two incredible storytellers, mentors, and community catalysts – Michiko and Warren, both retired oral historians. The stories they’d bring home to his dinner table about violence, injustice, and inequality inspired him to attend law school to study social justice. There, he became actively involved in community organizing and peace initiatives. After finishing law school, he followed his passion into the non-profit world where he worked with adults with disabilities for nearly 7 years at a local non-profit called Abilities Unlimited. Even more than his qualifications, though, Scott believes it’s his identity as a father that shapes his plans and actions for Ceeds of Peace. As the father to his two kids, Elle and Rui, he has a deep personal urgency pushing him to bring his community and the world closer to this goal of peace, as distant as it may sometimes seem.
Dawn Rego-Yee (she/her/wahine) was born and raised in Hilo on Hawaiʻi Island and identifies as wahine Hawaiʻi, mother, hula learner and social justice worker. She is the Resilient Communities, Schools and Families Project Director at C
Aaron Domingo is a financial advisor at Westpac Wealth Partners – One of Hawaii’s fastest growing financial services companies. Aaron has always had a heart for being involved in the community and has a passion for spreading financial literacy to all in need. In addition to his career in finance, Aaron is also a performing musician and has a degree in Music Business Production from Belmont University in Nashville, TN. He is a volunteer musician for “Make ‘em Smile” a local non-profit that brings music to children battling illness in our local hospitals. Aaron and his wife Jenn are proud parents to their daughter Teagan. Their hope is to raise Teagan to know and be a delegate for empathy and peace.
Eric Johnson is the Artistic Director of Honolulu Theatre for Youth, leading an ensemble of local theatrical artists creating new work celebrating the diverse cultures and dynamic stories of Hawaii. Since his arrival in 2005 the company has collaborated with numerous local non-profits, government organizations and cultural communities across the State and abroad. His work has toured nationally and internationally winning numerous awards and recognition including a Helen Hayes Award for Anime Momotaro and a Visionary Voice Award from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. He is a proud alumnus of the TCG/NEA Early Career Directors Program and the Princess Grace Fellowship.
Olin Lagon incubated and then spun out Shifted Energy while he was Executive Director of Kanu Hawaii, one of Hawaii’s largest grassroots organizations with nearly 20,000 members statewide. Olin is a technology innovator and social entrepreneur with a long time passion for sustainability. He co-founded several companies and helped invent pioneering technologies in diverse fields including content localization and crowdfunding. He co-authored multiple technology patents and his inventions have been adopted by many Fortune 500 companies as well as organizations like MIT and the Olympics. His startup ChipIn created the first commercial crowdfunding system and directed nearly $100 million to causes worldwide. Half of Olin’s life has been spent in service including the U.S. Navy, the Peace Corps, and several nonprofits. Born and raised in Hawaii, Olin got first-hand experience of low opportunity communities through his years living in public housing projects. He spends all of his free time with his family and volunteering at a Foundation he co-founded, Purple Mai’a, which teaches coding and computer science through after-school or elective classes to Native Hawaiian students, low-income youth, and others who are underrepresented in tech.
Cleo’s passion for team building and brand advocacy is rare in financial services. As Head of Café Operations and community affairs for ING Direct in the USA, she built a culture that put its cafes at the center of the brand’s national profile and made community outreach a pillar in its success. Before leaving her mark on America’s most successful online bank, Cleo acquired deep experience in multi-national financial service groups, in executive posts at Custom House, Thomas Cook and Deak International. Cleo is married 55 years to Carl Brown, Retired HPD and they have three adult daughters, one adult son and seven grandchildren.
Jamila Jarmon is an experienced professional weaving justice and equity into her work. Jamila was raised in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi and is a graduate of the George Washington University and William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. As a practicing attorney, Jamila has experience in civil litigation, real estate, poverty, employment, environmental, and startup law. Upon her graduation from law school, she joined the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawai`i, where her work included writing health law policy and facilitating a pro bono legal clinic at Kokua Kalihi Valley Community Health Center. Jamila also practiced civil and commercial litigation, real estate, bankruptcy, condominium association and homeowner’s association law at Porter McGuire & Kiakona.
Jamila’s work with startups includes her role as In-House Counsel at Elemental Excelerator, where she was integral in its transition to a stand-alone organization, built the legal department and structures for equitable hiring, assisted startups with legal information and knowledge, and participated in due diligence. Jamila was also the Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel for Chewbox Inc. In her role, Jamila built the foundations for growth of the organization infusing equity and justice through products,
partners, and people.
Currently, Jamila is the Manager of Growth Strategy for the Electrification of Transportation (EoT) at Hawaiian Electric Company. Jamila oversees EoT’s strategy to support the rapid growth of EVs and EV load. She works alongside internal and external partners to develop Hawaiian Electric Company’s EoT strategic roadmap, innovative pilots and programs, policy strategy, customer and partnership strategy, and explore funding opportunities including regulatory recovery, Federal and state grants and private cost share.
Outside of her professional endeavors, Jamila has served and serves on numerous non-profit boards, supporting community organizations in Hawaiʻi. Jamila served on the Hawaii State Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division Board for 5 years, concluding with her tenure as President of the Young Lawyers Division in 2018. Currently, Jamila is a board member of Aloha Harvest, Ceeds of Peace, and the Pōpolo Project. She is also a member of HSBA’s Committee on Diversity and Equality in the Law. In 2019, Jamila was named one of Hawai‘i’s most influential young leaders by Pacific Business News as one of the 40 Under 40 and she was selected as a Pacific Century Fellow to be part of a cohort of emerging leaders creating innovative solutions to Hawai‘i’s problems.
Zephanii Smith Eisenstat is a lifelong social justice advocate working to advance civil rights, human rights, peace, and sustainable development in communities and organizations worldwide. With a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Claremont McKenna College and a Master of Arts in Educational Administration and Leadership from the University of the Pacific, Zephanii’s public service career includes working in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government in various support and consultancy roles. Her work includes collaborations with academic, governmental and non-governmental organizations. She currently serves on the Boards of the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth, the Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition of Hawaii, and the NAACP Foundation. She is a frequent contributor on topics related to advocacy, education, intrapreneurship, engagement, and her participation in various social, political and economic fora. She is the creator of #MySDGDream, a campaign to inspire everyone, everywhere to take action toward achieving a better, more equitable and sustainable future for all.
Ernie Belaski-Epstein was born and raised on the Wai‘anae Coast of Oʻahu. She is the Community Schools Coordinator for Waiʻanae Elementary School as part of the Resilient Communities, Schools and Families Project. She has been working in community service for over 20 years with people who are houseless, kūpuna and most recently with elementary school keiki. Ernie believes the success of the community is very important and being able to support keiki is key to the success of our people and families.
Raised in Honaunau, South Kona, Trish Papalimu is the Community Schools Coordinator at Honaunau School. She is an educator who is excited to connect community supports and empower her school community. She is passionate about Hawaiian culture and learning about other Indigenous cultures and is eager to provide ‘aina and culture-based activities for ‘ohana, keiki and community members of all ages.
Born in Denver, raised in Chicago, and educated in Washington, D.C., Allison Hanley is thrilled to call Hawaiʻi Island home for the last 10 years. Through previous work as a Congressional staffer, and as a Certified Lactation Counselor, she became and enthusiastic advocate for underserved communities. Allison constantly dreams of how she can create change and make the world a better place. As a Community Schools Coordinator for Mountain View Elementary that work continues. Allison is excited to engage families and expand access to essential resources in her rural community. In her free time, she enjoys drinking coffee and planning DIY home projects.
Aloha my name is Kaipo Elua Correa. I am the Community Schools Coordinator at Blanche Pope Elementary ame Ke Kula Kaiapuni O Waimanalo on the eastern coast of Oahu. My connection with the school goes back four generations since its opening. As an alumni myself and as a parent of students within the school, I have been very involved in school functions, events, committees, and groups. As the school’s Parent Teacher Organization president, I was able to make various connections with families, staff, and community members. I have recently obtained my BSW from the Thompson School of Social Work at University of Hawaii at Manoa and look forward to creating partnerships within the school and community that support learning, strengthens families, and stimulates a healthy community.
José Barzola has a passion for creating social change through nonviolence, nurturing relationships that transcend cultural barriers, and focusing on issues of diversity, identity and multiculturalism. He is a highly organized education administrator with over 15 years of experience and success in higher education administration, student development within academic and student affairs. José aspires to continue to develop his skills as a peacebuilder and to strengthen his knowledge on the power of nonviolence.
Borjana Lubura-Winchester was born and raised in Sarajevo – Bosnia and Herzegovina. When she was 17, civil war broke in her country. Borjana experienced two harsh years of war followed by five as a refugee. She lost many family members and friends and witnessed the devastating impact of war. Upon return to Sarajevo, Borjana worked at the NATO base as a liaison and interpreter between local contractors and international peace building forces, helping overcome the obstacles that communities face while trying to rebuild peace and live together. In 2005, Borjana came to Hawaii, and earned an Associates degree with honors from Leeward Community College, a BA with Honors in Geography and Geographic Information Systems and MA in Geopolitics with focus on Humanitarian Interventions, both from UH Manoa. Meanwhile, Borjana continued to help build peace in her native Bosnia. In 2011, she began facilitating with the Matsunaga Institute for Peace & Conflict Resolution, where she earned a Graduate Certificate in Conflict Resolution. Her facilitation includes seminars for the Department of Defense Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies on security, development, and transnational issues in the Asia-Pacific region. Borjana teaches geography and geopolitics at Leeward Community College and UH Manoa. Her three children fuel her passion for peace building.
Naomi Rombaoa Tanaka, Ph.D. is a faculty member of the Center on Disability Studies at the College of Education, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. The Principal Investigator/Project Coordinator of the Hawaiʻi Positive Engagement Project (H-PEP), her projects aim to grow the strengths of educators, families, and students. Naomi is passionate about strengthening teams through technical as well as adaptive leadership.
Her area of interest is the use of technology to increase personal happiness, peace, and resilience.
She is the author and illustrator of an award winning children’s book, Brighter, Brighter, Brighter!, which was originally created as a peace project in Dr. Maya Soetoro’s class. Naomi holds a PhD in Learning Design and Technology and Interdisciplinary Certificate in Disability and Diversity Studies from UH Mānoa and a BS in Educational Studies/Family and Community Services and MS in Early Childhood/Special Education from the University of Oregon.
Katie Ranney was born and raised on O’ahu. Her interest in conflict resolution and social justice bloomed during her undergraduate studies at Santa Clara University in California. After graduating summa cum laude, she spent one year working at a daytime women’s shelter in Boston as part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Katie returned to Hawaii and earned her Masters Degree in Communication and a Graduate Certificate in Conflict Resolution from University of Hawai`i at Manoa. She currently works as a freelance facilitator and communication consultant as well as project assistant for the ACCORD3.0 Network. Katie’s latest projects include a Joint Fact Finding team on Kauai, and note-taking for a few of the IUCN’s World Conservation Congress panels.
Holly Polk is a Common Core State Standards Resource Teacher for Oahu’s Kaimuki-McKinley-Roosevelt Complex Area. After 25 years in the Hawaii Department of Education, she still finds love and joy in teaching. Holly has 14 years teaching elementary school students, primarily in 6th grade, and 11 years teaching adults as a School Assessment Liaison, Data Coach, and Common Core Resource Teacher. She loves learning and hopes to instill that love of learning to her fellow teachers!
As a School Improvement Resource Teacher at Waipahu High School, it brings Joyce much joy to work with new educators who are passionate and eager to help all students succeed. The willingness and great attitudes of new teachers gives hope for the future they will inspire and instill a love of learning in their students. Prior to Waipahu High School Joyce worked at the district level as a School Assessment Liaison Resource Teacher, and an Induction and Mentoring Resource Teacher, and she also taught 6th grade at Leihoku Elementary School. Joyce believes that we can all learn from each other and that is why she enjoys working with students and teachers.
An educator for over 35 years, Steve has worked with youth from preschool through college age adults. A proud graduate of Hawai`i public schools, Steve has been a school counselor at Solomon Elementary, and he previously served in the Marine Corps, Hawai`i Army National Guard, and the Army Reserve. He advocates for “mindfulness,” a practice he has done since beginning Aikido in 1978. Steve has created “RAINBOWS in Me: Values of Aloha”, an evidence-based Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) program. He is most proud of his graduate student daughter, Nikki, and he feels blessed to be connected with Ceeds of Peace, helping promote Aloha and building peace in our world.
Brad Kusunoki is a School Counselor at Alvah Scott Elementary School in Aiea. As a board member of the Hawaii School Counselor Association, he is working to create more professional development opportunities specifically for School Counselors that count towards their reclassification. Brad has been a University of Hawaii football season ticket holder for many years, and hopes the team will once again return to the glory days, as it was in the 2007 season. He is also a new father to a son!
Nicole Colello is currently the school counselor at Sunset Beach Elementary School on the North Shore of Oahu. She enjoys working with her students and loves letting them share their voices. When she is not working she loves to workout, travel, surf, eat and spend time with her two fur babies. As the President of the Hawaii School Counselor Association she thrives to support the work of school counselors and social emotional learning.
Deborah is an educator, minister, artist, mother of four, and grandmother of one. Living in Hawai’i since 2010, she is a founding board member of Parents for Public Schools of Hawai’i, co-founder of Fund our Hawai’i Public Schools Coalition and active member of HE’E and the Broadband Hui. Her mission is to support engaging, deep education to unlock each person’s unique gifts bringing personal and familial satisfaction, happiness, and well-being, thereby advancing peace. She has worked extensively in media, assessment, knowledge management, and blended learning. She led product development at Kaplan, served as CEO at Galaxy Classroom and AwesomeStories, founded Teacher Universe and LearningBond. Deborah delivered media in learning, open education resource, assessment for learning, teacher professional development, STEM learning, and career technical blended learning solutions statewide in GA and district wide in NC, FL, and OH. Through LearningBond she serves non-profits and others seeking to deepen and expand learning.
Dana is a lawyer and nonprofit generalist, whose approach and perspective are defined by three decades of experience, as a teacher and curriculum author for the NYC Board of Education, director of development for a large charter school, and inaugural executive director of the Frieda C. Fox Foundation. Known nationally for her conference sessions, webinars and publications with the Council on Foundations, Exponent Philanthropy, and the National Center for Family Philanthropy, Dana’s tenure at Fox saw her incubate and implement innovative programs including Youth Philanthropy Connect and Education by Nature, and manage over $4 million in grants to nonprofits. Semi-retired, she shares expertise in cloud-based technology, online marketing, collaboration, and governance. Dana graduated from Wellesley College and the Santa Clara University School of Law.
Tina Nader, an educator in diverse public, parochial, and private schools for over 30 years, has taught preschool through college students in the US and South Africa, supervised teachers in Southern California inner city schools and on a Navajo reservation, and directed a diversity recruiting program at Sewanee: University of the South. In New York, Tina worked as a corporate salesperson with clients at Wall Street brokerage firms, Fortune 500 companies, and the United Nations headquarters. Over the past fifteen years, Tina has provided consultation for development projects in South Africa, Peru, and Cambodia, and promoted the PBS Village America series, which presented national news through a multicultural perspective. Tina also currently serves on the board of the United Nations Association: Hawaii-Honolulu. Tina and her husband, the Very Rev.Walter Brownridge, have been married over 30 years and have two grown sons, Alexander Thurgood and Martin Desmond.
A retired senior executive at Intel Corporation, Dennis applies decades of experience in corporate sales and marketing, mergers and acquisitions, and management of large teams and billion dollar budgets, to the nonprofit and social benefit sector. A 15 year mentor at Santa Clara University Business School’s Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI)/ Miller Center of Entrepreneurship, Dennis coaches award-winning social entrepreneurs in business plans for scaling enterprises that improve lives around the world. Dennis leads Strategic Planning efforts for the UCSF School of Dentistry, the UCSF Cranio-facial Center at Benioff Children’s Hospital and the UC Berkeley School of Optometry. He has advised, consulted and served on the boards of dozens of nonprofits. He is a decorated U.S. Army officer and combat veteran, and an avid golfer.
Paula Adams, originally from Argentina, has been living in Hawai`i since 2003. She is the Executive Director of the Hawai`i Afterschool Alliance. Ms. Adams completed her Master’s degree in Psychology. She began her professional career as a psychotherapist in a mental health clinic in New York City and she helped with research at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Before moving to Hawai`i she worked at the University of Buenos Aires in research and in education. After arriving to the Aloha State, she began working at the University of Hawaii as the Fun 5 program coordinator, a physical activity and nutrition program for afterschool kids. Working for afterschool programs gave her the opportunity to be selected as the Hawai`i Afterschool Ambassador, a program run by the national Afterschool Alliance. Since 2014, as the director of the Hawai`i Afterschool Alliance, Paula Adams has been supporting afterschool and summer learning programs for all children in Hawai`i. Paula is married and has two teenage children, as well as a cat, a dog, and a lot of plants.
Annie Cusick-Wood is a Hawaii-based Director and Writer of theatre for children. Born in Scotland, Annie graduated as a drama teacher from Aberdeen College of Education and has taught and directed since 1987. She is a playwright and director of plays for several companies across the UK including TAG, The Citizens Theatre, M6, Newcastle Playhouse, Leicester Haymarket, Visible Fictions, the macRobert and Catherine Wheels. The recipient of the Scottish Arts Council’s ‘Creative Scotland Award’ in 2000, Annie’s shows ‘The Red Balloon,’ ‘Martha,’ and ‘The Happy Prince’ have played in New York and toured internationally. She has also won a Victor Award, and ‘Best Play for Children’ (Shanghai Children’s Theater Festival.) In Hawaii, she has directed “The Red Balloon” and “Charlie Brown” for Hearts, and “Stellaluna” for Kids Entertainment. Annie wrote and directed “Blue”, “Sort It Out”, “Peter Rabbit and the Garden” and “Auntie Martha and the Nene” for Honolulu Theatre for Youth (HTY).