In 2022, a panel discussion hosted by the United Japanese Society of Hawaiʻi discussed the sustainability of their member organizations. Concerns were raised about waning support from younger community members (under 40 years old) and the lack of future leaders for these organizations. JCCH President and Executive Director Nate Gyotoku, a panelist, expressed that empowering younger community members in board positions, regardless of their experience level, is a way to engage a new generation and change organizational strategy to attract a younger audience. The problem is a gap in experience and knowledge for young, early-career professionals to be equipped for community leadership service.

The Hoʻohana Program aims to engage, connect, and equip the next generation of community organization activators to create long-term sustainability in aging grassroots organizations. The program will last 18 months, with six months of training/exploration sessions followed by 12 months of a board fellowship with a local community organization. Participants will dive into the principles of Aloha and shared cultural values, intending to become cross-cultural community organizers with a strong sense of self-identity and place.


Once selected, participants will engage in once-a-month training to progressively strengthen their self-identity and deepen their understanding of the tenets of Aloha. 

Training sessions will be conducted by community members from a wide range of Hawaiʻi communities, providing participants with a diverse and broad perspective. Participants will be able to explore their cultural values, the values of Aloha learning from living in Hawaiʻi, and the commonalities between communities despite their differences.


As part of the Ho‘ohana Program, our cohort met with a number of diverse community leaders who shared their stories with us, imparting wisdom, practical knowledge, and inspiration. A recurring theme throughout the discussions was the concept of self-discovery and knowing who you are. At its core, the Ho‘ohana Program provided me the time, space, and environment to explore my personal identity and reflect on what it means to be both Japanese-American and Native Hawaiian. Through a deeper comprehension of my own identity, I gained a greater understanding of the responsibility I have to our community and how I may best serve. The Ho‘ohana Program facilitated my personal growth and inspired me to focus my energy on giving back and uplifting others.

Maile Kawasaki, 2023 Cohort