William Ailā, Jr., of Waiʻanae, Oʻahu, and Esther Kiaʻāina of Nānākuli, Oʻahu, filed today to run for seats on the Board of Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in 2018. Ailā filed to run for one of the At-Large seats, and Kiaʻāina filed to run for the Oʻahu seat.
Ailā, who is currently the Deputy Director of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, was Chairman of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) under Governor Neil Abercrombie. Kiaʻāina served as Ailā’s First Deputy at DLNR until she became Assistant Secretary for the Insular Areas at the U.S. Department of the Interior under President Barack Obama’s Administration. She is currently Executive Director of the Pacific Basin Development Council.
Ailā and Kiaʻāina have extensive state and federal public service experiences, respectively, and are known for their years of contributions to the Hawaiian and conservation communities. Both were instrumental in Hawaii’s successful bid to host the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress that highlighted Hawaii and traditional Hawaiian knowledge in conservation protection and management to the world. At DLNR, Ailā and Kiaʻāina also promoted that expertise in Native Hawaiian traditional and customary rights be taken into account throughout the department, and secured state laws requiring such expertise for the Board of Land and Natural Resources and other commissions lacking such background.
“I am running for OHA because I believe in the kuleana it has been given, to better the lives of Native Hawaiians. Change is good but it has to be sensible, honest, and pono ” said Ailā.
“One of the most powerful tools to effect change in leadership is through the ballot box. That is why I am running for OHA. I have demonstrated experience of effective leadership and advocacy at all levels of government, especially in Washington, D.C.,” said Kiaʻāina. “My top priority will be fiscal discipline and accountability since these elements are critical to OHA’s fiduciary obligations and effectiveness to better serve our Hawaiian community,” she added.
About William Johnson Ailā, Jr.
William J. Ailā, Jr., is currently the Deputy Chairperson for the Department of Hawaiian
Home Lands and the former Chairperson of the Department and Board of Land and Natural Resources. He grew up on the Waiʻanae Coast, on the island of Oʻahu and at a young age he worked on his family’s cattle ranch. He learned to love the ocean fishing and diving near his great-grandmother’s beach home, learning from her the values of respect for the ocean and conservation of its resources. He graduated from Waiʻanae High School and earned a degree in General Tropical Agriculture from the University of Hawaiʻi, and for 24 years served as the harbormaster for the Waiʻanae Small Boat Harbor. He has served on numerous appointed and volunteer boards, and helped create the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. He is an environmentalist, Hawaiian cultural practitioner and is dedicated to preserving Hawaiʻi’s land and ocean for future generations.
About Esther Puakela Kiaʻāina
Esther Kiaʻāina, of Nānākuli, Oʻahu, is the Executive Director of the Pacific Basin Development Council, a regional non-profit organization that advances economic and social development issues in the Pacific Islands.
Most recently, Esther served as the Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas at the U.S. Department of the Interior under the Obama Administration between 2014-2017, where she coordinated federal policy with respect to the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and administered U.S. assistance for the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau under the Compacts of Free Association.
Prior to her tenure at the Department of the Interior, Kiaʻāina served as the First Deputy for Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, Chief Advocate for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and Land Asset Manager for the Kamehameha Schools, Hawaiʻi’s largest private landowner. From 1990-2007, Esther had an extensive career on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., starting as a volunteer intern for Senator Daniel Inouye and later serving as Legislative Assistant for Senator Daniel Akaka, Chief of Staff/Legislative Director for Guam Congressman Robert Underwood, and Chief of Staff for Congressman Ed Case.
Kiaʻāina graduated from Kamehameha Schools; the University of Southern California; and George Washington University Law School. She also attended graduate school at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.