Keliʻi Akina, Ph.D., is a leader who is transforming Hawaii's economy, government and society. He is known for the phrase he coined, "E Hana Kākou" - Let's work together! Over the past several years as a public policy adviser at the legislative, congressional and international levels, Dr. Akina has become a leading defender of the Aloha Spirit. His mission is to preserve the Aloha Spirit by which Hawaiians and people of all races are welcomed and encouraged to work together for a better future. As a Native Hawaiian and skilled chanter, Dr. Akina has dedicated his life to the education and financial advancement of both Hawaiians and all people in the islands, starting in the 1980's as the director of Youth for Christ on the Wai`anae and Nanakuli coast. His plans for Hawaii's economy and future are based on the conviction that the only way to raise the water level of one boat is to raise the water level of all boats. This conviction drives Dr. Akina to create solutions to Hawaii's problems that benefit everyone, now and into the future. A recent victory for the Aloha Spirit is Dr. Akina's legal case, "Akina v. the State of Hawaii, OHA, Na'i Aupuni, et al" in which the United States Supreme Court stopped the State of Hawaii from conducting a racially discriminatory election. Dr. Akina believes that "It's time to reform OHA" so that it becomes a driving force in preserving the Aloha Spirit and advancing Hawaiians through housing, education, healthcare, and economic prosperity.
Professional Background and Education
Currently, Dr. Akina is a Trustee-at-Large in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a statewide elective position for which he garnered 164,000 votes in the 2016 election. He is also President/CEO of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a public policy research institution dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, free markets and limited, accountable government. Dr. Akina is a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools, Northwestern University (B.A.) and the University of Hawaii (M.A. and Ph.D.) and a member of the Pacific Century Fellows (an offshoot of the White House Fellows program). An expert in East-West philosophy and ethics, Dr. Akina has lectured at universities in China and the United States and continues as an adjunct instructor at Hawaii Pacific University. Akina is actively involved in the community and has sat on boards such as the Aloha Heritage Center in Maui, Youth for Christ (President/CEO Emeritus), and the Center for Tomorrow's Leaders (Founder and Past President).
Dr. Akina and his wife Liz live in Honolulu, near Punchbowl over-looking downtown. He has four grown children, all of whom are graduates, like himself, of Kamehameha Schools: KeAupuni (The Kingdom), Kamana (The Power), Ho'onani (The Glory), and Mauloa (Forever).
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