Native Hawaiians Convene Policy Forum

Kapolei, Hawaii – The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) Board of Directors hosted the first Quarterly Policy Forum for the 2018 year on Oahu on Friday, January 12.

“It’s important to bring members of the CNHA 21-member board together and have open dialogue with the larger CNHA membership and community on the issues they’ve shared are important to our people,” said Alvin Parker, CNHA Board Chair, and head of the Ka Waihona O Ka Na’auao Public Charter School.

With participation of 40 different organizations and individuals in-person and on the phone, the forum reviewed how CNHA adopts its Annual Policy Priorities, and how they guide the programs of CNHA to deliver on needs identified by its coalition members.

“The board hosts these policy forums, to discuss what CNHA as a coalition focuses on, and to always debate and consider all the angles of public policy issues it advocates for or simply issues support to positions of its members,” said Robin Puanani Danner, a CNHA board member from homestead areas, assigned to oversee the CNHA Policy Center.  “Every program, whether in the Loan Fund at CNHA, or in the Capacity Division, or a policy position, is directly tied to what CNHA members have shared with our Policy Center.”

Areas of discussion for this forum focused on the priorities of CNHA health members, artists and cultural practitioners, telecommunication initiatives, and efforts to create tiny home opportunities to increase affordable housing inventory.

“It was also an outstanding dialogue on the reasons so many of our homestead association members oppose having their federal housing dollars flow to the state DHHL, and a sobering discussion on ceded land revenues due to OHA, while identifying what Hawaiians can do to improve the functionality of OHA,” remarked Michelle Kauhane, CNHA CEO.  “Our board and our members are the heart of our work, and these forums are about connecting what matters to them to what we as staff do every day.”

Geri Mendiola, the CNHA Loan Fund Manager reported out on the $2.2M in loan capital currently deployed to Native Hawaiian businesses, farms, and nonprofits, as well as the new tiny home loan product under development.

“In the past year, we have been awarded more than $1M in new capital from the Kresge Foundation and the Treasury Department to act on the capital needs our members have identified are most needed,” Mendiola said.  Kauhane followed on by saying, “the Policy Center is an important nexus at CNHA, to hear from, and act on the priorities of Native Hawaiian leaders working in every sector.”

The next CNHA Board and Policy Forum is scheduled for April 13, 2018, and will discuss CNHA priorities in education, in affordable housing rentals, and community facilities.

For more information on the CNHA Annual Policy Priorities, or to register to receive notices, contact Jordyn Danner, CNHA policy manager at