Changemakers around the world are selected annually by Obama Foundation Leaders to inspire and accelerate positive change in their communities. For 2023, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Education (COE) Professor of Mathematics Education, Linda Furuto, has been chosen to be one of 105 global leaders.
Furuto will be among just 34 leaders participating in the Asia-Pacific program, representing a cohort of 22 countries/territories across the region. The 2023 cohort of Asia-Pacific Leaders are focusing on a broad range of issues, including the climate crisis, Indigenous rights, education and more.
“I can’t think of anyone more qualified than Linda to represent the COE as an Obama Leader,” said Department of Curriculum Studies Chair Patricia Espiritu Halagao. “Her cutting-edge work with ethnomathematics and involvement as the UH ambassador to the Pacific Voyaging Society (PVS) Moananuiākea Voyage will greatly contribute to better understanding how education can serve our global communities. And, above all, she exudes the values of a humble, caring and committed servant leader.”
During the six-month, non-residential Obama Leaders program, Furuto will participate in weekly virtual skill-building workshops, network building opportunities and a variety of moderated conversations with members of the Obama Foundation global network. Upon completion of the program, leaders join the Obama Foundation’s alumni community as the next generation of civically active, positive role models who are prepared to create tangible solutions to the challenges of our time.
Furuto’s fondness of COE
Furuto is the director of the Ethnomathematics Graduate Certificate and Master of Education in Curriculum Studies Mathematics Education programs at COE. She led the highly acclaimed Ethnomathematics and STEM Institute for 10 years, garnering a 2019 UH President’s Green Initiative Award and 2022 PBS Hawaiʻi Home is Here feature for exploring sustainability, stewardship and ancestral knowledge through mathematical sciences. This institute would become the first ethnomathematics academic program in the world.
Prior to joining the COE in 2013, Furuto was an associate professor of mathematics and head of mathematics and science at UH West Oʻahu. A UH Board of Regents Medal for Excellence in Teaching recipient, she is also an apprentice navigator and education specialist with PVS, and is part of the 2023–2026 Moananuiākea Voyage of the Pacific.
“I am truly grateful to be part of the UH Mānoa College of Education surrounded by inspiring students, staff, faculty and communities grounded in a sense of purpose and a sense of place,” said Furuto. “By collectively expanding our perspectives on how we intentionally wayfind 360 ̊, I believe we can create a world where every child knows know who they are, where they come from, and where they are going through values-based STEM education. I look forward to continuing to work together to strengthen the P-20 pipeline by creating alternative STEM pathways to traditional learning goals in ethnomathematics and STEM.”