HAPA Executive Director, Anne Frederick, reflects on Kuleana Academy and leadership in Hawai‘i
In these times, it is important to find beacons of hope. The graduates of HAPA’s second Kuleana Academy class shine a very welcome and bright light.
Over the past weekend, HAPA’s non-partisan Kuleana Academy graduated its second class. Seventeen participants from across the pae ‘āina gathered over five weekend retreats to focus on the development of their leadership, immerse themselves in a variety of policy issues, develop the skills to run for office or seek appointments, improve their public speaking, and much more. Participants learned from various elected leaders about their experiences running for, and serving in, office. They met with key policy experts, and worked with a variety of specialized trainers.
As long-time activist Laulani Teale spoke to the graduating class about what it means to be pono when holding a position of power, I was reminded of one of the more intangible impacts of the program.
Over the course of the program, participants examine the core values from which they will lead. Their leadership development is grounded in deep personal reflection, and they explore their shared values as a group. As participants articulate their values, they learn from each other and become accountable to each other. They are encouraged not to just blindly seek office, but to also question the very power structures and roles that they may one day enter.
While many of our elected leaders might have started out with the best of intentions, too often in the process of bargaining and compromising they lose their way and become beholden to this or that corporate interest.
Many Kuleana Academy graduates will go on to seek elected office, some will seek appointments to boards or commissions, others will deepen their activism and gain a seat at the bargaining table in struggles affecting their communities. In each case these emerging leaders will step into positions of greater leadership and power.
The discussion on what it means to be pono calls on these graduates to make a commitment to exercise that power with courage and integrity, and to question that power at each turn. It invites this community of graduates to call each other out if someone acts in way that is not pono. It also provides a network to support each other in making good and equitable decisions.
Shane Sinenci, Kuleana Academy Graduate from Hana, Maui said, "Hawai‘i's leaders are sworn to its Constitution and to sit below the great seal and motto, 'Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka 'Aina I Ka Pono'! The Kuleana Academy teaches the 'Pono' way!"
Stepping up is not easy. It takes courage, strength of character, and a strong moral compass. By nurturing a community of thoughtful and accountable leaders, we are investing in a pono future for Hawai‘i.
Due to overwhelming demand HAPA will be offering an additional Kuleana Academy in the fall of 2017!
A generous donor has pledged funding for half of the program, and we are seeking to match this funding by April 20th! Whether you can give $10, $100, or $1,000 to build new leadership for Hawai‘i, your help is much needed and greatly appreciated!