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Get To Know Us

Kohala Kūpa'a Leaders

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'Ekela Kahuanui

ʻEkela Kahuanui is a third generation member of the Kohala community and has worked in the nonprofit sector for 20+ years. In this time she’s worked on many projects that have been instrumental in creating change in the communities she’s worked and lived in but the one she’s most proud of is her role as co-lead coordinator of a residential sailing program where keiki of all ages learn food handling and preparation along with skills necessary in order to “voyage” on a canoe. She is a mother of two sons and grandmother to three and as an inspiring cultural practitioner she shares her passion for cultural revitalization, traditional lifestyles and thriving communities.

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Kathy Matsuda

Kathy Matsuda is an event organizer for Kohala Project Grad & Kohala Reunion. She is the Hawaii Island Director and leader for Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Kohala/Waimea taiko group. She is also the Youth Director for St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, chairs the annual bazaar, and helps to organize the community meal that serves 500 people. She is the Director for the Okinawa Children’s Day camp, Executive council member for Hawaii United Okinawa Association, member of Boy Scouts of America, and honorary board member for the North Kohala Community Resource Center. She is currently the Social Impact Associate at the 1 Heart Hub. Married to Ted, 2 children, and 1 granddaughter.

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Bennett Dorrance

Bennett Dorrance, Jr., moved to North Kohala, Hawai‘i in 1998 having found (he believed) the antidote to modern society. Learning and living amidst an Aloha- and ‘Aina-based culture and the many peoples and cultures that make up this melting pot, he invested in places and projects that have sought to contribute to a sustainable society that could live in harmony with Earth and the life it supports. Some projects he has supported are Kohala Institute at ‘Iole and the Kohala Village Hub.

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Joel Tan

Joel B. Tan is a poet, cultural activist, and the Director of Social Impact for 1Heart HUB in Hawaiʻi Island. He is the author of three collections of poetry with essays, stories, performances, and visual works published and produced by diverse academic and commercial venues. Joelʻs 30+ years promoting Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) in Public Health, the Arts, Education, and Holistic Centers includes co-founding LAʻs Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team Health Centers. He lives in Kapaʻau with his husband and three cats.

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