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Kua`aina Associates, Inc.
Assisting indigenous communities through program development & special projects

Our Board Members...

Vice-President

Jeanette Acosta, MA - Board Member

Jeanette is a filipina and adopted daughter of the Chumush people. She is performing artists and a life long student of music, who began her music career as a child prodigy performing throughout Europe and later studied music at Cal Arts and UCLA. Jeanette has played keyboard for artist such as Taj Mahal and John Trudel and composed music for TV shows such as Falcon Crest and Murphy’s Law, which she was nominated for a Emmy Award. Jeanette’s many accomplishments also include working for MBST Entertainment, Inc., where she managed the careers of John Pizzarelli, Bucky Pizzarelli, Mindi Abair, and assisted with the business affairs of Woody Allen, The Beatles, The Estate of George Harrison, and The Estate of Frank Zappa. Jeanette’s life journey has brought her to the practice of Kundalini yoga and meditation and she is currently a certified “permaculture” designer and instructor.  Jeanette brings to Kua`aina her experience and knowledge of the performing arts world along with the blend of artistic expression and indigenous land use management, a vital component to Kua`aina’s overall vision - Knowing Land, Places and Ourselves: Earth Politics (environmental issues and indigenous perspectives).


Secretary/Treasurer

Paul Kealoha Blake was born on Maui and raised on ‘Oahu, Paul Kealoha Blake brings to Kua`aina Associates, Inc., years of experience in non-profit management, and media & new technology production. A Hawaiian videographer, musician, and cultural activist, Paul has collaborated on numerous media projects across the US and internationally. He is the co-founder and the co-director of the East Bay Media Center in Berkeley, CA, which provides technical and educational access to communities with a special emphasis on communities of color. Paul pioneered the camcorder and personal computer video revolution by being the first production/post-production organization to offer integrated video/computer workstations. He created specialized training programs to provide independent producers and organizations with the necessary tools for navigating new technologies and developed Disability Video training programs. With the grant support of the California Arts Council and the Vanguard Foundation, Paul provided the basis for a variety of programming including: African Connections, Pacific Wave, Barrier Free TV, Video 99, and Berkeley Muzik TV. Paul is also co-curator of the Berkeley Video & Film Festival.


Sekio Fuapopo, MA - Board Member

Sekio is a member of the Samoan community and longtime resident of San Francisco. He received an MA in painting from Sacramento State University in 1975 and a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in Painting, 1972. He is an advisor for Samoan Solutions Inc. and Camp Unity - a community based Samoan youth organization in San Francisco. Sekio brings to Kua`aina his expertise and networks in the Pacific Island communities and his experience and connects as a San Francisco artist.


Nazbah Tom , MFTI - Board Member

Nazhah was born and raised on the Navajo Rez in Arizona. She is a drama therapist and poet. Nazbah works toward unlearning her own internalized oppression and in the process, helps others heal and find their voice. Nazbah is a member of the Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) organization, which is a community-based volunteer organization offering culturally relevant activities for Two-Spirit/LGBTI Native Americans, their families and friends and currently is serves as the Interim Project Director for the Family & Child Guidance Clinic at the Native American Health Center in Oakland. Nazbah brings to Kua`aina her expertise in the healing powers of art therapy and the voice of Two-Spirit/LGBTI artists.


A.M. Kahealani Pacheco, JD - Board Member
Kahea is Native Hawaiian and was born and raised on the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island.  She graduated from Kamehameha Schools in 2002 and moved to Washington state, where she attended the University of Washington and received her BA in the Comparative History of Ideas.  In 2009, she graduated from the University of San Francisco School of Law with a certificate in International and Comparative Law, and a concentration on Federal Indian Law, Environmental Law and International Human Rights.  To date, her career has been focused on protecting Indigenous peoples rights to self-determination, sovereignty, land, water and sacred spaces.  In 2008, her research on the socio-economic status of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders was included in the Mieklejohn Civil Liberties Institute shadow report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  From 2008-2009, she served as a law clerk with Alexander, Berkey, Williams and Weathers, a private law firm in Berkeley, CA, where she worked on cases to ensure tribal rights under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the Indian Child Welfare Act, various environmental regulations, and the Klamath River settlement.  Kahea currently works with the North America Program of Women’s Earth Alliance, where she provides programmatic support to Indigenous grassroots women leading environmental justice campaigns in their communities.  She also serves as a Writing/Editing consultant to several non-profit and for-profit organizations. 

President/Executive Director

Carolyn Melenani Kuali`i’s genealogy comes from the Kuali`i line of the island of `Oahu, and the Mescalaro Apache of Southeastern New Mexico. Carolyn is the Founder and President & Director of Kua`aina Associates, Inc. For the past twenty years, Carolyn has worked with Native Hawaiian, American Indian, Alaska Native and Pacific Island communities providing consultation in culture preservation programs, facilitation of culture exchange and protocol activities, and art & cultural programs. Carolyn has also facilitated capacity building assistance to Native community based organizations in the areas of organizational development, grants management, and program development. Carolyn has produced and directed a number of special projects such as the exhibit honoring the lifework and collective song of Sam Kaha`i Kaai titled, Näue Ka Hönua (The earth shakes) - E ala mai iä Kihanuilülümoku (Kihanuilülümoku awakens) at the Schaefer International Gallery at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in December 2006. Carolyn is featured in the audio documentary, Living Voices, produced by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian featuring profiles of Native Americans and Native Hawaiians, from a broad range of contemporary Native experience.

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Indigenous Art & Culture