Kehaulani Costa was born in Pohnpei, Micronesia and at the age of two returned to Pupukea, O‘ahu where she grew up playing freely in the valley and bay of Waimea. A childhood filled with hiking in the Ko‘olau, bodysurfing Ehukai and jumping off “the Waimea rock” instilled in her a deep love and respect for the ocean and Hawai‘i’s natural environment. A graduate of Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, she now lives in Hilo and works for the County of Hawai‘i as a housing policy specialist. She enjoys being a community volunteer and connector, but her true love is being Mom to her four boys who fill her life with joy, challenges, adventures, and pride.
Diane Marie Evans currently serves as the Grants and Communications Manager for Kōkua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services (KKV), where she has been since 2019. This work encompasses a range of cultural, literary, artistic, and traditional arts supporting healing and resilience for KKV’s Asian, indigenous Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. Prior to coming to Hawai’i, Diane was the Executive Director of the Museums of Sonoma County in northern California, an art and regional history museum. In this role, she oversaw collections management, development of exhibitions and educational programming, as well as fundraising and governance for nine years. Diane was also the art curator and collections manager for the Nevada Museum of Art for nine years, where she supported the creation of a new $22 million museum facility and a significantly expanded collection of photography and land-based art. She has written and edited numerous exhibition catalogues for publication. Her passions include outrigger canoe, ceramics, and jewelry making.
Mary Therese Perez Hattori is CHamoru from the island of Guam. She serves as Acting Director of the Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center. “I hope to live out the CHamoru saying–I irensia na’lå’la’ i espiritu-ta (Our heritage gives life to our spirit)–through practicing photography, poetry, scholarship, weaving, chant, and music to convey CHamoru cultural knowledge.” She has been a board member of HIHumanities since 2018.
Born and raised in Kāneʻohe on the island of Oʻahu, Tisha Aragaki graduated with her undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. After over a decade in the public library system, she recently found a new professional home at the ʻUluʻulu Moving Image Archive. She has been on our board of directors since 2017.
Nancy Aleck has worked in intersecting fields of education, community building, social justice activism and advocacy, and philanthropy. “Having entered the eighth decade of my life, I continue to explore ever-expanding perspectives and understanding of the human experience. To balance out this challenge, I am on the streets nightly, visiting several communities of un-homed felines.” She became a board member for the HIHumanities in 2019.
Cheryl Edelson is Professor of English and Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Design at Chaminade University of Honolulu. Since 2007, she has served as co-organizer of the Oceanic Popular Culture Association—a regional chapter of the Popular Culture Association. Cheryl is general editor of Pacific Coast Philology, the journal of the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association.When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, and horseback riding. She became a board member in 2021.
Maja Grajski, a board member since 2019, recently joined the Trust for Public Land as Associate Director of Philanthropy in its Hawaiʻi office. She previously served as Executive Director of the Donkey Mill Art Center on Hawaiʻi Island. Maja found her strength as an “expert generalist” in understanding and responding to the data needs of multiple stakeholders as Head of Collection Information & Digital Assets at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. A longtime resident of Honolulu, she previously held the position of Collections Manager at the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design. Maja holds a BFA from The Cooper Union, School of Art; a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies and a Master’s in Library & Information Science from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She is deeply inspired by the sea change in philanthropy today in recognizing the power of ground level, cross-sectoral networks to build community resilience.
Retired now for 10 years after being with UH Maui for 37 years as a professor of English, Literature, and Linguistics, Vincent Ryan Linares spends most of his time with his theatrical production company, Oh Boy Productions, acting in, directing, and producing theater classics. He also continues to produce and act in Damien–a one man theatrical tour de force about the life of Molokaʻi’s priest, Father Damien. “When not pursuing theater projects, I garden, teach cooking classes at the Maui Senior Center, serve on several local nonprofit boards, and constantly direct my energies on making my home on the slopes of Haleakalā at 4,000 feet, as perfect as can be!” He has been a board member since 2019.
Demaney C. Kihe is a Regional Manager at First Hawaiian Bank’s Kapi‘olani Branch, and has been involved in the banking industry for over twenty years. A veteran of the United States Air Force, he is currently is a board member of the Liliha-Palama Business Association, board member with the John A Burns School of Medicine ʻImi Ho‘ōla medical student program, member of the Kāneʻohe Business Group, Finance Chair for the Minami Community Foundation and member of the Air Force Civilian Advisory Council. “The humanities provide knowledge and inspiration beyond numbers and statistics—and focus on stories, understanding, and empathy.”
Trixy ʻIwalani Koide was born and raised in the heart of Honolulu, Kauluwela, Oʻahu with her two older brothers. “My passion is my career teaching ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi as a Professor in Hawaiian Language at Kapiʻolani Community College. I especially enjoy time with my son who seems to be growing up too quickly these days. I ola ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi!” She joined our board in 2021.
Mark Ombrello is a long time Hawaiʻi History Day volunteer judge going back to graduate school days at UH Mānoa, and now serves as Kauaʻi Lead Historian Consultant for our program. Mark teaches History and Japanese language at Kauaʻi Community College. He enjoys playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild with his precocious son. He has been on our board since 2019.
Shelly Preza is proud to be from Lānaʻi, where her family has lived for generations. She attended Kamehameha Schools: Kapālama and earned a B.A. in English with a minor in Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights from Harvard College. She is now fortunate to be working back home in cultural preservation with the Lānaʻi Culture & Heritage Center and Pūlama Lānaʻi. She became a board member in 2021.
Pualiʻiliʻimaikalani (Pua) Rossi-Fukino, Assistant Professor of Hawaiian Studies at Kauaʻi Community College, serves as department Program Coordinator and teaches courses on Hawaiian Language, Hawaiian Religion, Hula/Chant, and Hawaiian History. Born and raised on Kauaʻi, she is board member for the Kauaʻi Food Hub, Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action, serves as the Kauaʻi Representative on the Pūkoʻa Native Hawaiian Council, and has been a board member of the Kauaʻi Historical Society. “I am very passionate when it comes to the area of humanities, especially in regards to Hawaiian history. As someone who was born and raised on Kauaʻi, there is a sense of responsibility that I have to give back to our community and broaden these types of programs on our island.”
Misty-Lynn Sanico is a long-time advocate for local literature and has worked with many community organizations that support Hawaiʻi writers and readers. She is a freelance writer and editor as well as the Director of Marketing and Communications for Bamboo Ridge Press, Hawaiʻi’s longest running, independent small literary press. She is excited to help others explore the humanities and build relationships through storytelling and creative content.
Dawn Sueoka is the Congressional Papers Archivist at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Library. She previously worked as an archivist at the Honolulu Museum of Art and at the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design. She looks forward to working, reflecting, building, and dreaming with the council and the board. She joined our board in 2021.