SW - Speakers enhance attendees' lives and legacy

All speakers at the Southwest Regional Conference are the true essence of the word “Aloha.”

At the Opening Meeting, Pono Shim will explain how all participants can “Experience a Lifestyle of Aloha” both at the conference and throughout their lives. A gifted storyteller, Shim advocates for the “deep meaning of Aloha.” He was selected as one of Hawaii Business Magazine’s Top 20 Break-Out Leaders.

Shim emphasizes three key topics: aloha leadership, making life changing commitments, and civility and incivility in our communities.

Through his sharing of personal stories, you will be inspired to collaborate throughout your own professional and personal lives.

The speaker at the Second General Meeting will be Shawn Kanaiaupuni, the Director of Public Education Support at Kamehameha School who works closely with the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the educational efforts of the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage.

Hawaii’s Polynesian voyaging canoes will have completed their three years of circumnavigating the globe in June 2017. This worldwide voyage models how we are all connected and need to know, understand, and care about everyone to protect and sustain the planet, and to build youth leadership for the future of the world.

Barbara Kawakami will speak at the Present/Past State Organization Presidents’ Luncheon. Kawakami, born in Japan in 1921, immigrated to Hawaii at three months. She graduated from the eighth grade and started her first career in dressmaking at age 16. She became a naturalized citizen and earned her GED after she married and had three children. At the age of 53, she started her formal education at a community college, and quickly earned bachelors and masters degrees.

Kawakami is a consultant and lecturer since publishing her first book, notably with the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in Los Angeles, where a major part of her collection is on display. Other parts of her collection are part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. In 2012, Barbara was recognized as a Living Treasure of Hawaii.

At the Third General Meeting, Dr. Maenette K. P. Ah Nee-Benham, Chancellor for the University of Hawaii, West Oahu campus, will speak. She has published several books, including Let My Spirit Soar! Narratives of Diverse Women in School Leadership. Throughout her career, Nee-Benham has sought to inspire women to be educational leaders. Her contributions have been recognized locally, nationally, and internationally.

At the Birthday Luncheon, Miki Nishizawa and Kel Hirohata, teacher at Waipahu High School, will share how advocacy for domestic violence awareness and youth safety issues can lead to taking action to make a difference in communities. Nishizawa is a sophomore at the University of Hawaii and received Tomorrow’s Leaders Award at the National Crime Victims’ Service Awards Ceremony in 2016 in Washington, D.C.

Nishizawa and Hirohata will present how to generate positive leadership in all students by providing opportunities to have leadership roles, work with communities and collaborate with real people to address real issues.

At the Fourth General Meeting, Mervlyn Kitshima will present how to educate communities, parents, schools and students to handle negative challenges and obstacles. In 2003, Kitshima was named both Hawaii and National Mother of the Year by American Mothers Incorporated.

Mervlyn will share her personal story about successfully facing and handling major obstacles while surviving in a high poverty area. These experiences led her to dedicate her time and expertise to help all people and all ages become resilient.

International President Carolyn Pittman will speak at Friday evening’s banquet. In her first year, Pittman’s emphasis of the concept of butterfly wings has enriched the Society by helping members to truly be Leading Women Educators Impacting Education Worldwide.


Pono Shim

Shawn Kanaiaupuni

Barbara Kawakami

Maenette K. P. Ah Nee-Benham

Miki Nishizawa

Kel Hirohata

Mervlyn Kitshima