Oceania Leadership Institute

Oceania Leadership Institute (OLI) is a culturally rooted leadership development program designed for Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (NHPI) young adults and community organizers. The OLI curriculum forefronts Pasifika values, community, and history as the foundation of our holistic leadership praxis. We are committed to the development of critical consciousness through embodied practice and the integration of post-colonial and decolonial theory, anti-racist curriculum, liberation theologies, and social justice advocacy.

2021 OLI COHORT

Des Spicer-Orak

Des Spicer-Orak is a queer mixed Palauan poet, born and raised in Portland Oregon. A BSW graduate, author, activist, and organizer Des has come to understand themselves and their culture through her relationship to the land and ocean. Their strong passion for learning and teaching involve them in many positions centered around building community resilience and healing. Des is currently the Pacific Islander Youth Health Organizer at APANO, and a member of Pacific Climate Warriors PDX Chapter. They believe in the power of knowledge, and its ability to transform our impact on both each other and the Earth. In her work, she intentionally amplifies the voices of her people and their struggles. Without recognition and action several smaller Pasifika communities will continue to suffer silently in the development of climate crises.

Leiloa Hedy

Talofa Lava! My name is Leiloa currently residing on Kumeyaay Land, Tipai - Ipai a.k.a San Diego, California! I am of Samoan descent and born n raised here in sunny San Diego. I am excited to be a part of the OLI and can’t wait to learn more about our people. Fa’afetai lava to PICA-WA for this opportunity!

Mia Murray

Håfa Adai! My name is Mia Murray and I am from Texas. I am familian Min and Kalandu from Agat & Pali from Santa Rita. I am currently a student at the University of Texas at Austin, where I am studying special education with the hopes of becoming a special education teacher once I graduate. I am also a member of Masakåda Collective, a Famalao’an/Non-Binary centered grassroots organization of Chamoru people and Allies in the diaspora. I hope to continue to learn and grow so I can better serve my community.

Simeon Jacob

Simeon is a movement builder, whether it’s running, dance, djing, or organizing. They thrive in community and has committed their work to seeing their communities thrive. Simeon works at the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, located in Portland, OR as their Environmental Justice Manager, coordinating on local and statewide initiatives to build power, develop leaders, and advance equity through organizing, advocacy, community development, and cultural work within our Asian and Pacific Isladner communities. He serves on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit Passion Impact whose work is dedicated to working with students to foster self-awareness, interpersonal understanding, and social justice through civic leadership. Simeon is the outgoing coordinator for the Portland Chapter for Pacifc Climate Warriors, a network of Pacific Youth standing up to show the world that in the face of Climate Change.

Vanessa Tufuga

Talofa and Malo e lelei! My name is Vanessa Tufaga (she/her/hers) and I am a rising senior at the University of Alaska Anchorage studying Political Science (with a focus in international relations) and International Studies. This summer I am interning at Peace Corp in the Office of Strategic Partnerships and Intergovernmental Affairs. I am very passionate about indigenous sovereignty and learning about our Pacific history. Aside from academics and work, I enjoy reading, listening to music, traveling and staying active. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of Oceania Leadership Institute and am excited to see what I will learn. Vanessa Tufaga (she/her/hers) is a rising senior at the University of Alaska Anchorage, studying Political Science (with a focus in international relations) and International Studies. This summer she is interning at Peace Corp in the Office of Strategic Partnerships and Intergovernmental Affairs. Vanessa is passionate about indigenous sovereignty and learning about the history of the Pacific. Aside from her academics and work, she enjoys reading, listening to music, traveling and staying active. She is very grateful to have this opportunity to be a part of Oceania Leadership Institute (OLI) and is excited to see what she will learn.

Priya Raman

Priya Raman is an Indo-Fijian, first generation college graduate from California State University, East Bay with a B.S. in Health Sciences-Concentration in Public Health. Her interest lies in representing underserved NHPI communities through community-based participatory research (CBPR), advocacy, and creating culturally competent resources. She currently works as a Program Associate for the Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL) and serves as the Caucus Director- Caucus Collaborative for the Asian Pacific Islander Caucus (APIC) for the American Public Health Association (APHA). She aspires to get her Master’s in Public Health- Health and Social Behavior with an emphasis on cultural health. Priya hopes to her experiences and work inspire others to advocate for NHPI health and the communities.

Kathy Weber-Bates

Kathy Weber-Bates is the founder and owner of Starhitch Strategies, a public relations firm based in Missoula, Montana. Her Pasifika heritage comes from her mother, Lusie Manao Samuela Weber, born in Saolei in the district of Itu’ti’u Rotuma, a Polynesian island in the South Pacific governed by Fiji. Lusie came from a chiefly family descended from the first peoples of Rotuma including the last king of Rotuma before it was governed by Fiji. Kathy’s father, Gerard Weber met her mother while he was a Peace Corps volunteer stationed in Fiji working to help build sustainable forestry practices on the island. Kathy was born on a small family ranch in the Bitterroot Valley in Western Montana. The neighboring rancher cut her umbilical cord. She grew up playing in dirt, curious about everything and inspired by the work ethic of her parents and ancestors. She became the first person in her family to earn a master’s degree studying broadcast journalism and political science. Today, Kathy draws upon more than 20 years of experience as an award-winning journalist, political strategist, campaign advisor and business consultant to add firepower to her clients’ capacity. She's a trusted ally for small businesses, corporations, cooperatives, professional associations, non-profits, major events and organizations who value her ability to get the job done right. She’s grateful and honored to be included in the Oceania Leadership Institute and looking forward to learning wisdom and deepening cultural connections among other Pacific Islanders. Her dream is to spend time in Rotuma to help document and preserve wisdom from her relatives. Kathy and her husband Joe are blessed to be raising their children in Western Montana. Their family can be found exploring the rivers, lakes and mountains around the West when they're not at the sand volleyball courts, the hockey rink or the fastpitch fields cheering on the kids.

Lehuauakea

Lehuauakea is a māhū mixed-Native Hawaiian interdisciplinary artist and kapa maker from Pāpaʻikou on Moku O Keawe, the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. Lehua’s Kānaka Maoli family descends from several lineages connected to Maui, Kauaʻi, Kohala, and Hāmākua where their family resides to this day. Through a range of craft-based media, their art serves as a means of exploring cultural and biological ecologies, spectrums of Indigeneity, and what it means to live within the context of contemporary environmental degradation. With a particular focus on the labor-intensive making of ʻohe kāpala (carved bamboo printing tools), kapa (bark cloth), and natural pigments, Lehua is able to breathe new life into patterns and traditions practiced for generations. Through these acts of resilience that help forge deeper relationships with ʻāina, this mode of Indigenous storytelling is carried well into the future. They have participated in several solo and group shows around the Pacific Ocean, and recently opened their first curatorial research project, DISplace, at the Five Oaks Museum in Portland, Oregon. The artist is currently based between the Pacific Northwest and Pāpaʻikou after earning their Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting with a minor in Art + Ecology at Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Lanaiah Ieremia

Lanaiah Ieremia was born and raised in Texas. She has a B.S in Biological Sciences and is currently working on a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences. She has a passion for service and serves her community in different aspects. She also is attempting to learn the ukulele and loves to spend time with her loved ones.

Trina Sound

Trina resides on the Indigenous lands of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde in Portland, Oregon. She shares ancestral lineage from the village of Penia in Weno, Chuuk and the outer island of Lukunor in the Mortlocks of FSM. As a returning student, she’s currently on a journey to restore the collectivist values of her Chuukese heritage while navigating higher education. Her goal is to become a therapist for the Pasifika community. She’s known for uplifting and encouraging those around her without demanding attention for it and has a thirst for knowledge and making sense of the world.

Lucky Edwards

Talofa! My name is Lucky Edwards, and my pronouns are he/she/they. I am a queer & transgender non-binary Tagata Pasefika with Samoan Ancestry currently occupying Tongva land in Orange County, California. Currently I spend a lot of time in virtual spaces with many other Pasefika community members and activists in unlearning, learning and decolonizing the experience of being Tagata Pasefika in the diaspora.”

Lennah Ieremia

Tālofa lava, my name is Lennah Ieremia. I was born and raised in Texas. I earned my Bachelor of Science Degree in Athletic Training back in December of 2019 and am currently pursuing my Master of Public Health: Health Management, Administration and Policy Degree. I hope to implement learned strategies and interventions to aid other Public health entities and systems. I am a self proclaimed meai-Sāmoa connoisseur and am mother to a high maintenance poodle.

Falefia Jr. Brandon Fuamatu

Falefia Jr. Brandon Fuamatu is a queer mixed-Pacific Islander with Samoan and Chinese ancestry from the village of Pava'ia'i in Tutuila (American Samoa). He currently lives in Washington state on the land of the indigenous Muckleshoot, Duwamish, and Coast Salish people. Falefia Jr/Brandon is a classically trained opera singer and arts administrator, and is setting groundwork in his community as a Pasefika orator, creative, and community organizer. Navigating the Moana (Pacific Ocean) communities of diaspora, his interests are in creating programs, platforms and a foundation for Tagata Pasefika and other minority groups that are under-represented and ignored. His experience and work within the classical music industry has driven him to disrupt and explore the spaces in which true diversity and representation is lacking and/or non-existent. Falefia Jr/Brandon is also working towards creative-directing and curating inclusive and respectfully-disruptive artwork(s) that centers on queer+ identity, indigeneity, and modern-world navigation through the Pasefika lens. His goal is to foster and uplift community spaces that champion the perseverance of diverse identities within the Pacific Island communities.

Musumaula’i Galoia

Musumaula’i Galoia is of Samoan and Tongan heritage. She is a recent B.A. Political Science graduate from Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, Georgia. Throughout her undergrad career she held leadership roles as an Army ROTC cadet, dual sport NCAA athlete, and conducted various community service projects as a regional pageant queen. Her vocational goals include becoming an Active Duty Army Chaplain and leader in her pasifika community. Musumaula’i aspires to create and join communities of like-minded leaders in order to further preserve and protect the shores of Oceania.

Cassandra Micah

Cassandra Micah is a Micronesian college student with family lineage tied to the outer islands of Pohnpei- Pingelap and Mokil - and the island of Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia. Born in Guam and raised in Vancouver, Washington, she is currently attending George Washington University in Washington D.C. where she is majoring in International Affairs with a focus on Conflict Resolution and Security Policy. Cassandra intends to bring Pasifika values with her as she navigates post-secondary education and Pasifika wisdom into the field of International Affairs where she hopes to advocate for NHPI communities and Oceania.

Valerie Ochoa

Valerie Ochoa was born and raised on Oahu, the land of Kanaka ‘Ōiwi. Her mother is from Upolu, Samoa and her father is from Cuenca, Ecuador. She strives to connect more deeply and authentically with her Indigenous and Pasifika roots. She attended University of Hawaii West Oahu for undergraduate studies and majored in Political Science. She obtained her Juris Doctor at University of Baltimore. Valerie is a licensed attorney in Washington D.C. and Hawaii. Her career and life goals are centered on how best to help the people that institutions intentionally or inadvertently leave behind. Currently, she is taking care of and advocating for her father through his medical journey.

Anastasia Magele Shirai

Anastasia is of Samoan descent and has resided on the island of O’ahu, Hawai’i a majority of her life. She is 1/3rd of a P.I podcast which focuses on self & personal development and what it looks like for a PI living in the Hawai’i diaspora. She is constantly looking for different ways to learn and expand her knowledge of Oceania and how to actively be a part of her community. Higher education has never quite worked out for her. She’s been back three different times and learned checking the “some college” box ain’t that bad. It took her a while to find her way on this cultural journey but it’s been a fun ride so far and has led her here, to OLI. She is excited and honored to take in all that will be shared and in turn pass onto her children, the future of Oceania.

Vaeliseiletalalelei Letava Ofagalilo

Talofa - My name is Vaeliseiletalalelei Letava Ofagalilo, but you can call me Letava. I've spent the past 28 years of my young life growing up in Kalihi on the island of Oahu. My parents settled in Hawai’i in the early 80s from Samoa for better opportunities. In 2016 I graduated with a BA in Pacific Island studies from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Currently I work as a clinic manager for Malie Cannabis Clinic where we certify patients for their 329 card. On my days off I host a podcast with two of my friends on the topic of personal development for pacific islanders. My hope is that by joining this Leadership course I can learn how to better use the resources and privileges that I have been afforded to create programs for our people that assist them in reaching their full potential - just as this Leadership program with OLI is doing for me.

Lia Poasa

Lia Poasa Lia Poasa was born in Pennsylvania, spent a few years in American Samoa, but grew up in Oregon. She is afakasi- father is from Samoa, mother is from PA. She has lived in the Bay Area for the past 7 years where she works full time for UC Berkeley. She is currently completing her master’s degree in Community Development at UC Davis. She has a B.S. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Oregon. Her “heart work” is in the community work she does where she serves as a grant writer and behind-the-scenes team member of PasifikaByDesign and a board member of UTOPIA San Francisco. When she is not working, she enjoys jumping into lakes and rivers, DIY furniture makeovers, traveling anywhere and everywhere, spending time with family/friends/husband, and eating Nutella.

Crystal Kionia

Mālō e lelei! My name is Crystal Tonga Kionia and I currently reside in O’ahu, Hawaii. I was born and raised in Hawaii, but I did spend parts of my childhood in Tonga, roaming my mother’s village of Lomaiviti. I am currently employed as an Office Manager for the Hawaii State House of Representatives, but I also lend my time to various Pacific-focused community initiatives. During my days off, I am either catching up on sleep or working on my podcast Somewhere in Space with my two amazing friends and co-hosts! I enjoy movies, solitary walks, and the art of buying books that I never read. I joined this leadership program because I want to strengthen my leadership skills and learn more about community building and development. I hope to become more confident in my approach to my career and leadership goals and I am looking forward to learning from everyone in this program!

MANA | VĀ TAPUIA | KOTAHITANGA | VUNILAGI | ALILIS | ANEMKWOJ

Oceania Leadership Institute (OLI) is a culturally rooted leadership development program designed for Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (NHPI) young adults and community organizers. The OLI curriculum forefronts Pasifika values, community, and history as the foundation of our holistic leadership praxis. We are committed to the development of critical consciousness through embodied practice and the integration of post-colonial and decolonial theory, anti-racist curriculum, liberation theologies, and social justice advocacy.

OLI INFORMATION

  1. Mana | Power
    • OLI acknowledges the spiritual and cultural power of Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities to determine their social and political futures in advancing justice locally and globally.
  2. Vā Tapuia | Sacred Relations 
    • OLI is committed to establishing deep ties through inter-accountable communities by building robust Statewide, Country, Municipal, and local coalitions between our Melanesian, Micronesian, & Polynesian communities to unite our political voice.
  3. Kōtahitanga | Collective Action 
    • OLI celebrates NHPI as an expansive body and we welcome all members of our community which includes our queer & trans siblings. We are an intergenerational community that celebrates our elders and hold the highest value for our children.
  4. Practical info for OLI Virtual Seminars
    • The Oceania Leadership Institute program will include a series of virtual seminars designed to build OLI participants’ competency in key content areas that focus on collaborative community organizing and Indigenous Pacific Islander Praxis in Pedagogy founded upon Anti-Racist principles.

In the Oceania Leadership Institute (OLI), you will develop the essential leadership and organizing skills necessary to create and sustain long-term collaborative community movement building while strengthening your understanding of our OLI Pasifika values and how we create belonging as part of this work.

OLI is available to folx who identify as Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander ages 18+. Though the program was designed for young adults and community organizers, we encourage folx to apply if they are genuinely interested in participating in the program.

OLI is free! OLI will provide participants with reading materials and other supplies. OLI will also provide a $500 stipend to folxs who successfully satisfy the requirements of the program.

In the Oceania Leadership Institute (OLI), you will develop the essential leadership and organizing skills necessary to create and sustain long-term collaborative community movement  building while strengthening your understanding of our OLI Pasifika values and how we create belonging as part of this work.

 

If you have any lingering questions, please contact:

Brandon Tacadena, Leadership & Spirituality Manager at brandon@picawa.org