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Our Team

About Us

Maui Nui Resiliency Hui (MNRH) is a dedicated force for positive change in Maui County. Rooted in our commitment to building a resilient and equitable future, we are a passionate community-driven organization that envisions a thriving Maui where everyone has the opportunity to flourish. With a focus on affordable housing, shoreline access, and food security, we tirelessly work to address pressing challenges that impact the well-being of our residents and the integrity of our environment.

We are more than an organization; we are a movement that seeks to weave together the diverse fabric of Maui County. Our actions are guided by a strong sense of responsibility for our land, culture, and people. Together, with passion and purpose, we are creating a legacy of positive impact, resilience, and unity for generations to come. Join us in our journey to make Maui County a place where opportunities are accessible, diversity is celebrated, and the beauty of our island home is preserved.

Empowering the Future of Maui Nui Through Resilience and Community Unity

Our Vision

At Maui Nui Resiliency Hui (MNRH), we envision a thriving and resilient Maui County where every individual and community has the opportunity to flourish. Our vision is rooted in fostering a future where affordable housing, equitable shoreline access, and sustainable agriculture are not just aspirations, but fundamental rights for all. We see a landscape where the interconnected threads of community, environment, and culture are woven together to create a tapestry of strength and harmony. MNRH's vision is a beacon guiding us towards a Maui County that embraces diversity, promotes inclusivity, and stands resilient in the face of challenges, all while preserving the beauty and integrity of our land and heritage.

Our Mission

The MNRH mission is multi-fold: we are committed to addressing the critical issues of affordable housing, shoreline access, and food security. With a comprehensive approach, we educate and uplift individuals and families, ensuring they are equipped with knowledge and tools to make informed decisions about housing opportunities, engage with their coastline, and contribute to a robust local food system. Through strategic partnerships and grassroots efforts, we advocate for policies that drive positive change, striking a balance between progress and preservation. As stewards of our island home, we are unwavering in our dedication to making Maui County a place where resilience is nurtured, opportunities are accessible, and the beauty of our land and culture are safeguarded for generations to come.

The Team

Board President: Alena Ornellas

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.


Board Secretary: Elizabeth Gonzalez

Elizabeth Gonzalez was born on the island of Maui and raised in Lahaina where her entire family and all of her friends live. She recently graduated esthetician school and has been working at The Beehive, where she does  lashes and waxing. In her freetime she enjoys working out and going to the beach to watch the sunset. She feels very grateful and lucky to be born in the place that gives out an abundance of love and aloha.


Board Treasurer: Autumn Ness

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.


Executive Director: Kai Nishiki

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.

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Executive Director: 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. She resides in Wailuku with her husband, Brandon (Kapu) and their two young children. 


Sarah is the founder of the Maui Backyard Farming Swap, a Facebook group of over 5.5 thousand members, where she curates variety produce boxes through the community’s sharing of backyard food that is producing in overabundance.She is also the owner of Wahi Pulama Nei, her family’s small urban farming business where she spends most of her free time growing food, processing and packaging value-added products to share with the community through the Maui Hub online market. 

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