Aiko was raised in Kāneʻohe and her families were raised in Kāneʻohe, Puʻunēnē, Yanbaru, and Agaña Heights. She has taught decolonial Pacific literature and community-engaged poetry for the UH Mānoa English Department as well as in partnership with community organizations and events, and has worked as an editor, researcher, and event planner for the Center for Biographical Research. Her PhD project looked at the role of friendship and decolonial love in contemporary literature of Hawaiʻi.
Aiko is a former Board President of Hawai‘i People’s Fund, and has worked and traveled as a peacebuilder with Women’s Voices Women Speak. She coedited The Value of Hawaiʻi 2: Ancestral Roots, Oceanic Visions (UH Press, 2014) and The Value of Hawaiʻi 3: Hulihia (UH Press, 2021). Her poetry and essays can also be found on Ke Kaupu Hehi Ale, blackmail press, Spiral Orb, and on the It’s Lit with PhDJ podcast. Aiko is grateful for jam sessions, pool tables, over-easy eggs, Okinawan dance, the Koʻolau mountains, the richness of our shared ocean, wai, the strength of nā pua, and all of their protectors.
Rob, who was born and raised on Kauaʻi, moved to Oʻahu to attend the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa to pursue his degree in Hawaiian Studies. Rob graduated from UH-M in 1997 and became a part of the HIHumanities family in 1999. As the Director of Reading and Discussion Programs, Rob is able to pursue his desire to provide outreach to underserved communities by implementing programs such as Motheread/Fatheread© , Literature & Medicine©, and Standing Down© , and piloting programs such as Try Think. Rob loves to engage in meaningful discussion about these programs, the humanities, or local music in between bodysurfing sessions with his young son, or simply over a good plate lunch.
Lyz Soto has worked with Youth Speaks Hawaiʻi and Pacific Tongues organizing and teaching spoken word and poetry to youth in Hawaiʻi, Aotearoa, Papua New Guinea, the Marshall Islands, and the continental United States. She has taught 20th century American poetry, spoken word, and Pacific Island literature. Her chapbook Eulogies was published in 2010 by Tinfish Press and her book Translate Sun/Son/Sum was published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press. Her poetry theatre show, Her Bodies of Stories, premiered in December of 2016 at the Doris Duke Theatre. She’s also worked as a dramaturg and director. Her long poem “When We Become Home” is forthcoming in the anthology The Fantastic in the Pacific from University of Hawaiʻi Press in 2024. As director of literary and conversation programs, she loves working with the amazing communities of our beautiful pae ʻāina. She is grateful for every opportunity to listen to and share the stories of Hawaiʻi.
Stacy has been working on grant-making and community engagement projects with the Council since 2011. He has participated in the local arts & culture and humanities community in various capacities. Stacy was born and raised in Honolulu, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in art history from University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and a Master’s degree in visual culture: museum studies from New York University.
Devin Makizuru was born in Honolulu and was raised in Kapolei. He received a B.A. in Geography and an M.A. in Education from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Devin is the lead coordinator for the History Day program. He hopes that through the History Day program, young scholars will become engaged in the process of discovering, learning, and understanding history, and that they will take an active role in shaping a brighter future. In his free time, Devin enjoys traveling, reading, and volunteering.
Michele was born in Honolulu and raised under a covering of Hilo rain. Graduating with a B.A. in English literature from Yale University and an M.B.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Michele taught English literature, writing and English as a second language in Hong Kong and Japan. She has served at nonprofits in many roles, with over a decade in development, and loves when missions, visions and strategies of different partners overlap and reinforce. She volunteers locally in areas such as recycling/reuse and civics, and relaxes by contemplating hāpu’u and raising caterpillars.
Desiree holds a Bachelor’s degree in Race & Gender Studies/ Studio Art Photography from New York University and a PhD in Ethnochoreology from the University of Malaya, Malaysia. Her research focus has been on the performing arts of Southeast Asia and the diaspora. Desiree is currently a lecturer in the Filipino Studies Program at Leeward Community College.