MORNING GENERAL SESSION
9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
STORIES OF RESILIENCE
Kelii Kotubetey, Founder & Assistant Executive Director, Paepae O Heeia
Kelii Kotubetey is the Assistant Executive Director and one of eight founding members of Paepae o Heeia which manages Heeia Fishpond in Heeia, Oahu. The fishpond is an 800-year old 88-acre walled pond built to harness energy from the sun and brackish waters to grow seafood for the community.
He was born and raised both at Kawela Bay and Kailua on Oahu. After graduating from Kamehameha School – Kapalama Campus, he received an undergraduate degree in Economics from Whitman College (WA) and a Masters of Business Administration from UH-Manoa. Upon returning from Washington in 2000, he was introduced to Heeia Fishpond and fell in love with the ingenuity and potential Hawaiian fishponds hold for our communities and islands. He helped to found Paepae o Heeia in 2001 and has held positions of educator, fiscal/human resources manager, and production manager over the years.
Victoria Cuba is a recent graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, with a bachelor’s degree in both journalism and digital cinema. Victoria has overcome many obstacles in her life to get to where she is today. She and her family have been homeless twice in their lives, once when Victoria was in middle school and once again when entering college. Although she was faced adversity, Victoria has used it as a reason to pursue her dreams, believing that education was the only way to get her and her family out of homelessness. Over the years, she has shared her story with Hawaii News Now and PBS Hawaii, hoping that it will inspire others in the same situation to persevere and be resilient in whatever obstacles come their way.
Because of her own story, Victoria strongly believes that everyone in life has a story to tell and that no matter how small it may seem, it will help someone else out there. Because of this, she hopes to pursue a career in storytelling, in either the news broadcast industry or documentary filmmaking.
Dr. Waialeale Sarsona, Managing Director, Kuamahi Education Division, Kamehameha Schools
Dr. Waialeale Sarsona is the managing director of the Kamehameha Schools Kuamahi Education Division, which primarily focuses on Kamehameha’s efforts to increase educational success of Native Hawaiian learners in the state public education system.
In 2007, Sarsona was recognized as one of Hawaii Business Magazine’s “25 People for the Next 25 Years.”
Born and raised in Waimanalo, Oahu, she is a first-generation college graduate, carrying a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education, a master’s degree in business administration and a doctorate in educational leadership.
Sarsona serves as the vice chair for the Native Hawaiian Education Council, is a board member of the State of Hawaii Early Learning Board and also is the vice chair for KAILOA, a small non-profit located in Kaneohe, Oahu. She is a Kaiapuni parent with three children attending Ke Kula O Samuel M. Kamakau, a Hawaiian language immersion charter school in Kaneohe. Having completed her university education last year, she is now studying to be a lomilomi and laau lapaau practitioner.