AGENDA
Return to conference agenda (here).
CONFERENCE SPEAKERS
Maenette K.P. Ah Nee-Benham
Professor Maenette K.P. Ah Nee-Benham, a Kanaka Maoli scholar and teacher, is the inaugural Dean of Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa. Dr. Benham began her K-12 teaching career in 1978 and over her 15-year teaching career, she has taught grades K-12 in California, Texas, and Hawaiʻi (Kaiser High School and Kamehameha Schools). During this time she also served as a K-12 curriculum specialist (California), elementary school administrator (Texas), and a district-level administrator (Washington).

Dr. Benham earned her doctoral degree from the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa in 1992, and in January of 1993 she joined the College of Education faculty at Michigan State University. There she built a strong base of inquiry that centered on (a) the nature of engaged and collective educational leadership across diverse communities and organizations (in particular, indigenous communities); (b) the wisdom of knowing and praxis of social justice envisioned and enacted by educational and community leaders (both formal and informal); (c) the meaning and value of systems knowledge in the work of sustained community-based capacity building; and (d) the effects of educational and social policy on vulnerable communities. She has worked extensively with Tribal Colleges and Universities coauthoring with Wayne Stein, The Renaissance of American Indian Higher Education: Capturing the Dream (Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers), and was the lead author of the White House Paper on the Tribal Colleges and Universities a Trust Responsibility (2004) submitted to the U.S. President’s Advisory Board on Tribal Colleges and Universities, U.S. Department of Education.

Dr. Benham’s work on alternative frames of leadership and issues of education is nationally and internationally respected. She has been an invited speaker and presenter at international conferences in Europe and South East Asia, and the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (Hawai‘i, Canada, and New Zealand). She is asked to speak on educational issues at a variety of conferences from a focus on Biomedical Research, Cross-Disciplinary collaborations, to a focus on Issues of Diversity. Additionally, she covers a range of topics from program planning and assessment/evaluation, school change, leadership development (school-based and youth-based), building school-community partnerships, and professional ethics (to name a few). She is the lead author of numerous articles on these topics, and has published several books to include: Culture and Educational Policy in Hawai’i: The Silencing of Native Voices (Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers), Let My Spirit Soar! The Narratives of Diverse Women in School Leadership (Corwin Press), Indigenous Educational Models for Contemporary Practice: In Our Mother’s Voice, Volume I (Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers), Indigenous Educational Models for Contemporary Practice: In Our Mother’s Voice, Volume II (Routledge), and Case Studies for School Administrators: Managing Change in Education (Scarecrow Publishers). She is the past Editor (2002-2006) of the American Educational Research Association’s leading educational journal, The American Educational Research Journal: Section on Social and Institutional Analysis.

Dr. Benham has worked extensively with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation on youth, education, and community collective leadership initiatives. She is currently working with the foundation as the lead P.I. for the Youth and Education Community Foundations Leading for Children Cluster: Engaging Communities in Education (ECE) that seeks to engage and build community capacity to advocate and build strong education pathways. She serves in a variety of capacities on the WCRC/MAʻO Board of Directors, the Mānoa Heritage and Kualiʻi Foundation Board, and the Queen’s Health Systems and Queen’s Medical Center’s Board of Trustees.

Her passion and commitment to healthy and sustainable learning environments for native/indigenous learners and their families is grounded on two ʻolelo noʻeau that she has lived her life by, Kūlia i ka nu ‘u! and Ulu a'e ke welina a ke aloha!
Colleen Hanabusa
Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa represents Hawaii's First Congressional District. With over three decades of experience as a successful labor lawyer and twelve years in the Hawaii State Senate, she brings to Washington a focused, passionate approach to serving our community.

Colleen was elected to the Hawaii State Senate in 1998, in her first run for office. In 2006, after years of delivering results, her colleagues elected her President of the Senate, making her the first woman to lead either chamber of the Hawai’i state legislature, and the first Asian-American woman in America to lead a state legislative body.

In November 2010, the people of Hawaii’s First Congressional District elected Colleen Hanabusa to represent them in the U.S. House of Representatives. From her first days in Washington, Colleen has stood up for Hawaii, holding national leaders accountable and supporting fair, common-sense legislation. As a freshman lawmaker, she made an impact among her colleagues, earning an appointment as an Assistant House Whip.

Now in her second term, Congresswoman Hanabusa continues to serve on the House Armed Services and Natural Resources Committees, bringing her direct approach and penetrating inquiries to the issues that confront our nation.

Colleen Hanabusa is a yonsei, a fourth generation American of Japanese ancestry, whose grandparents were interned during World War II. She has dedicated her life to service and is committed to providing for the people of Hawaii while preserving the unique values and traditions that define the Aloha spirit.
Erika Lacro
Erika Lacro was appointed as Honolulu Community College’s Chancellor in July 2012 and is Honolulu CC’s first female to hold the chief executive position. She most recently served as the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs at Honolulu CC, a position she held from 2007-2012. Prior to joining Honolulu CC, she served in several positions at the School of Travel Industry Management at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa including Assistant Dean, Director of Academic Advising and Director of Internship and Career Development. Before joining the University of Hawaii she served in several management roles at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

As an administrator at Honolulu Community College, Lacro is recognized for providing consistent, stable leadership focused on creating a student-centered culture. In her previous work at the campus level, she served as Co-Chair of the Accreditation Self-Study Steering Committee and Chair of the Campus Leadership Team. She led the campus reorganization process that has established a campus structure to support numerous paths to student success. She has provided leadership to guide the campus in several student success initiatives, such as the creation of a retention office, establishment of early alerts systems, and developmental education policies focused on supporting student learning.

At the system level, Lacro has led system academic affairs activities in the areas of the Achieving the Dream Initiative, Complete College America, the Reverse Transfer Initiative, and was successful in working to gain funding through Educause to upgrade the STAR Academic Journey for the University of Hawaii System, along with many other student success related initiatives.

Lacro currently serves as the principal investigator for a University of Hawai'i Community Colleges (UHCC) consortium, multi-year $24.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor's Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants program (TAACCCT) to develop new training programs and support existing ones that lead to jobs in the agriculture, energy and health industries. She is on the Board of Directors for the Kalihi Business Association and serves as one of the Chief Executive Officers on the Pacific Post-Secondary Education Council.

She holds a master’s and bachelor’s degree in Travel Industry Management, and a Ph.D. in Communication and Information Sciences from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
Danene Manuheali'i Lunn
Danene Manuheali'i Lunn has been forging her brand and reputation for nearly 26 years with her style of modern Hawaiian collections. Over that period she, with her husband Pono and their family, have grown Manuheali’i Inc. from a small operation to a major player in the Hawai’i fashion industry and have become one of Hawai’i’s leading small businesses.

Considering that Danene started selling her creations in 1985 at craft fairs while she was still a HCC student, it is safe to say that she has come pretty far. In 2004, Ms. Lunn received the ASB Native Hawaiian Business Award and in 2006 she was awarded the Governor’s Award Cup as the leading Hawaiian Apparel Manufacturer of the Year. Beyond business awards and accolades, the people of Hawai’i have fallen in love with her graphically bold clothing collections – in 2010 & ‘12 Manuheali’i was awarded with Honolulu Magazine’s Readers Choice award and from 2006-’13 Manuheali'i, Inc. has been a people’s choice favorite with Hawaii’s Best and Best of the Best.
Sunny Massad
Dr. Sunny Massad says that she has always been an unconventional thinker. So creating a system of counseling called UnTherapy to specifically empower women to live the lives of their dreams was a natural evolution.

In her twenties, she co-founded a 40-acre land cooperative in the San Juan Islands in the state of Washington. When she traveled to India at the age of 28, she discovered the transformative properties of meditation. She teaches how self-hypnosis and meditation can be used as tools for transformation to restore balance calm to an overactive mind.

Dr. Massad is the author of UnTherapy: A Positive Psychology for Enlightened Living. She runs a successful private practice at the Hawaii Wellness Retreat House in Kalihi Valley and frequently speaks to groups and organizations about women's issues, life balance, positive psychology, and the importance of self-care.
Virginia M Pressler
Dr. Pressler is Executive Vice President and Chief Strategic Officer for Hawaii Pacific Health (HPH). Hawaii Pacific Health is a non-profit healthcare network that includes Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children, Straub Clinic & Hospital, Pali Momi Medical Center, and Wilcox Hospital & Kauai Medical Clinic on Kauai. HPH is the largest healthcare provider in Hawaii, serving the entire state as well as the Pacific islands. Dr. Pressler joined HPH in 2002 and is responsible for strategy, philanthropy and government relations. She also serves as President and Chair of HPH Partners, the subsidiary of Hawaii Pacific Health that oversees all joint ventures.

Prior to joining Hawaii Pacific Health, Dr. Pressler’s career included Deputy Director of the Hawaii State Dept. of Health, President & CEO of the Queen’s/HMSA Premier Plan, Vice President at The Queen’s Health Systems, Director of Surgical Education at Queen’s, Associate Professor of surgery at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, private practice in general surgery, and five years in management at Bank of Hawaii. Dr. Pressler holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University, and MBA, MS in physiology and MD degrees from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Dr. Pressler is active in the community in a wide variety of volunteer roles. She is the immediate past Chair of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i and has been a board member and chair of the health issues committee of the Chamber for many years. She was involved with the American Cancer Society for more than 20 years. She is a Past President of the Hawaii Pacific Division and a former National Assembly Delegate for the American Cancer Society. Dr. Pressler serves on the Board and the Executive Committee of the UH Cancer Center Consortium. She is immediate past chair of the Cancer Center of Hawai‘i, vice chair of the Board of North Hawai‘i Community Hospital, vice chair of the Board of Hawai‘i Health Information Corporation, and board member of the YMCA and Hawai‘i Public Health Association. She has served on numerous state commissions and task forces. She is currently co-chair of the Hawai‘i Health care Project and was co-chair of the state obesity task force. Dr. Pressler also served on a U.S. Congressional Commerce Committee on health information technology and serves on the Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality for the Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

As Deputy Director of the Hawai‘i State Department of Health, Dr. Pressler initiated the Tobacco Trust Fund, the Healthy Hawaii Initiative, the Hawai‘i Outcomes Institute, the Hawaii Uninsured Project and helped initiate the Hawaii Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, serving as chair from 2003 to 2005.

Dr. Pressler is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Shidler College of Business, Hawai‘i Institute for Public Affairs, American Cancer Society St. George National Award, Planned Parenthood, Hawaii Medical Association, Healthcare Association of Hawaii, YWCA, University of Hawai‘i Distinguished Alumni, Business Leadership Hawai‘i Lifetime Achievement Award and others.