The capacity to maintain core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances; the ability to not only overcome setbacks but to also move forward.
Maui Nui Resiliency Hui
Board of Directors
Alena Ornellas, Board President
Alena Ornellas, a direct lineal descendant of the last keepers of the ancient alii bones and a 76th generation of Iao Valley emerges from a lineage deeply rooted in kalo farming and a close-knit 'ohana. Traditionally known as "the cooks," Alena's 'ohana has an innate connection to nourishing the masses through their love for the kitchen and sharing food. Formerly with St. Anthony for 7 years, Alena transitioned to manage the cafe at the Hawaiian Health Clinic, Hui No Ke Ola Pono (HNKOP), where she championed a heart-healthy menu aimed at serving the Kanaka Maoli community. During her time at HNKOP, Alena immersed herself in the traditional Kanaka Maoli diet, forged connections with farmers, and honed her managerial skills. Seeking a deeper connection to traditional foods, she ventured into farming, establishing her first mala kalo in 2019. Her joy and pride stem from sourcing components directly from Kumuwiliwili, her farm, whether grown, hunted, or fished by her kane. Cooking, feeding, and nourishing the community remain Alena's driving passions.
Jen Kamaho'i Mather, Board Secretary
Jen Kamaho'i Mather believes in the strength of community driven initiatives. As a kanaka ʻōiwi she has become a dedicated advocate for the well-being of Maui's poʻe and ʻāina, utilizing the enduring power of indigenous wisdom and the interconnectedness of community bonds to nurture relationships and partnerships toward a ready and resilient Pae ʻĀina. Her commitment to this resilience was born from the 2018 fires and floods in Maui Komohana when, together with other unaffiliated volunteers, she ran and organized a resource hub out of her administrative office at Waiola Church. With her degree in Cultural Anthropology and her certificate in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Jen sits at the cross-section of disciplines that can assist in the protection and preservation of Hawaiʻi's biocultural landscape. At the heart of her commitment lies a deep love for her two children, who serve as both her inspiration and motivation to safeguard the cultural legacy of their kūpuna. After 10 years employed with Waiola Church in Lahaina, Jen now works for ʻĀina Archaeology as a Research Assistant, at her ʻohana's restaurant, Kalei's Lunchbox, and with Mālama Law Group. Her other current non-profit commitments are as Board Secretary with HK West Maui Community Fund, Generalist Leader with Team Rubicon, and a volunteer with Waiola Church. In her spare time she enjoys trying not to embarrass herself outrigger paddling with Laeʻula o Kai, researching her moʻokūʻauhau, showing up at random volunteer operations and council meetings, and collecting books sheʻll have time to read someday.
Autumn Ness, Board Treasurer
Autumn is the Board President for Maui Hub and the Director of the Hawaiʻi Organic Land Management Program of Beyond Pesticides. She is a community organizer and policy analyst around sustainable agriculture, pesticide use and organic farmer support/advocacy. Autumn supports fundraising, communications and growth strategies for the hub, connecting them to the larger county and state-wide local food and agriculture movements. Hobbies include surfing, skateboarding and local-foodie kine things.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Maui Nui Resiliency Hui
Lexi was born and raised on Oʻahu and attended Kamehameha Schools Kapālama. After completing graduate school and earning her Master’s degree, she and her husband moved to his hometown of Lāhainā to raise their son. As a former English Professor at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Lexi now strives to use the skills she has acquired to benefit the lāhui. She feels no greater calling than the one telling her to serve her community. In her free time (which is rare), Lexi loves to read, write poetry, paint, and spend time adventuring with her family.
Lilinoe Elam Fonohema
My name is Luretta Lilinoe Aulani Elam-Fonohema. I am the daughter of Lindsay Elam and Faiva Fonohema. I am honored to be born and raised on the island of Maui in the beautiful town of Lahaina. I am an alumni from Lahaina Luna class of 2020. Like many other local kids I have fond memories of growing up in Lahaina from being apart of Lahaina girls softball, YOUNGLIFE on Lahaina Luna road, cruising down on front street and jumping off the harbors dock, to watching the most spectacular sunsets while enjoying a local boys shave ice. I was raised by the saying “It takes a village” and something about Lahaina gives that saying a completely different meaning which is why I am so honored to start this journey with Maui Nui Resiliency Hui. I am grateful to have the opportunity to restore our beloved aina to what is once was.
Riley Bond is a proud member of the Lahaina Community and has been her whole life. She graduated Lahainaluna High School in 2015 and has worked mostly jobs in the service industry and as an EL teacher at King Kamehameha III Elementary School. Riley is a working mother of two young kids and a student working towards a Bachelor’s in Social Work. She’s committed to creating a more sustainable and equitable future for the generations of keiki growing up in Hawaii. Riley aims to learn from and utilize the nuance of history and past experiences to be a more informed and understanding community member. She feels the desire to uplift and give back to the community that helped shape her into who she is today.
Katie Austin is a Lahaina resident. She studied criminology and criminal justice at Longwood University, and is originally from Portsmouth Virginia. Katie is a passionate Kahana Canoe Club member for a decade, proudly holding roles as Secretary and Coach since 2020. Driven by her community mentors, she advocates for preservation and return of environmental resources. Post-fire, she left the tourism industry to support our community's well-being and to actively fight for all the things our community needs and deserves. In her spare time, if any, she is an artist, enjoys gardening, and snuggles from her cat.
Carlos Lamas is a first aid & CPR instructor and entrepreneur of a mobile first aid & CPR certification company on Maui. He liquidated his beach equipment rental business to highlight the importance of sustainable income without over-reliance on the tourism industry, and to stand with the local community by providing life-saving skills to residents. As a stepfather to his Lahaina born and raised keiki, his values are grounded in secular humanism, emphasizing compassion, ethical living, and a commitment to the well-being of the community. His approach to business and family life reflects a deep respect for cultural traditions and a forward-thinking perspective on sustainability and community resilience.
I do have reasons for hope: the resilience of nature, the indomitable human spirit, and above all, the commitment of people when they're empowered to take action.
Maui Nui Resiliency Hui
Kai Nishiki is a long-time community organizer who is dedicated to protecting shoreline access for local communities in Maui. She is the executive director of Nā Papa‘i Wawae ‘Ula’ula and Maui Nui Resiliency Hui, nonprofit associations that advocate for conservation, enhancement of public beach access and preservation of public trust resources. An organizer and host of the Disappearing Shorelines and Managed Retreat conference in West Maui, Kai has also contributed to coastal hazard mitigation plans for County-owned shoreline properties. Kai was the chair of the West Maui Community Plan Advisory Committee for its recent update which, for the first time, included long range planning for sea level rise and coastal erosion.
Sarah Freistat Pajimola
Sarah Freistat Pajimola worked for the County of Maui for 15 years as an executive assistant, legislative analyst, chief of staff and as chief strategist under four Councilmembers representing South Maui, West Maui and Molokai. During that time she became an active community organizer and environmental advocate, operating as a behind-the-scenes resource to assist the public with navigating county processes. She helped draft mitigative legislation for several important issues that are now law. Originally from Portland, Oregon, she moved to Maui when her father was hired as an urgent care D.O. at Kaiser, in 2000. Sarah resides in Wailuku with her husband and two children, where she runs her family's small urban farming business, Wahi Pulama Nei growing, processing and packaging value-added products to share with the community through the Maui Hub online market. As the founder of the Maui Backyard Farming Swap Facebook group, she curates variety produce boxes through community-shared backyard produce efforts.
Great things are accomplished through a series of small things done together.