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Kaiwipunikauikawēkiu Punihei Lipe
Kaiwipunikauikawēkiu Punihei Lipe

A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa academic who fosters the campus’ aspiration to become a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning has been selected to join an inaugural cohort of a national program aimed at advancing racial and health equity. On June 6 Native Hawaiian Affairs Program Officer Kaiwipunikauikawēkiu Punihei Lipe will be the only representative from Hawaiʻi when she joins 39 leaders from 21 states around the country as they commence the first cohort of the Culture of Health Leaders Institute for Racial Healing (CoHLI), a program run by the National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE) in Washington D.C.

As the nation continues to battle historic and contemporary effects of racism, Lipe and fellow practitioners will gain tools and resources during the 18-month program to hold public officials and private sector leaders more accountable for real progress for racial and health equity. The kanaka ʻōiwi (Native Hawaiian) scholar was selected after a competitive process and is among talented community leaders across the nation chosen for their leadership experiences in the policy, law, grassroots organizations, education and health fields.

“My main mission when it comes to implementation here at UH Mānoa and in Hawaiʻi is to bring as many innovative and strategic strategies that can help us to scale up and sustain Hawaiʻi-grounded efforts that foster truth sharing, racial healing, and relationship building deep within and across sectors so that we can create the healthy, loving, and thriving futures our keiki and moʻopuna (grandchildren) deserve,” Lipe said. “It is an immense honor and I am really excited for the opportunity to work with other scholar practitioners who are doing work in this area and who value the importance of the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) framework.”

In 2019, Lipe was one of 200 emerging leaders from the Asia-Pacific region selected for the Obama Foundation Leaders: Asia-Pacific Program. She joined former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, and other prominent speakers and leaders for discussions around progress and opportunity in the Asia-Pacific region and values-based leadership.

Lipe also leads the UH Mānoa TRHT Campus Center which is one of the 50 trail-blazing campuses across Hawaiʻi and the U.S. selected to develop visionary action plans that prepare the next generation of leaders to advance justice and build equitable communities.

Advancing truth, racial healing and transformation

The CoHLI program will meet virtually each month and engage in learning opportunities with experts, and individualized coaching using the TRHT framework to strengthen the ecosystem of practitioners. The cohort will focus work in one of five areas: narrative change, racial healing and relationship building, separation, law and economy.

“We are thrilled for our first cohort and are eager to see the transformational changes required for our communities to heal and thrive and, ultimately, end the absurd belief in a hierarchy of human value,” said Gail Christopher, executive director at NCHE. “The selected practitioners represent some of the brightest minds advancing racial and health equity in our communities today, and it is our hope that the program will only amplify their work further.”

The CoHLI is a leadership program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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