Hawaiian culture and language differentiate Hawai‘i from any other place in the world. It is a thriving culture that encompasses vast history, extensive knowledge, spiritual depth, relevant values, and natural treasures. NaHHA is dedicated to the promotion and perpetuation of Hawaiian culture and traditions.

Our Vision

The Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA) perpetuates an authentic spirit of aloha and Hawaiian culture in hospitality industry planning, promotion and product development. NaHHA services corporate and community initiatives through project management, consulting, training and facilitation.

Organizational History

NaHHA was founded in 1997 by George S. Kanahele, Kenneth Brown and other Native Hawaiian professionals to address concerns about how Native Hawaiians and Hawaiian culture were perceived and represented in tourism. They determined that, in order to have greater success in improving tourism and honoring Hawaiian culture and its people, they would need support. In 1997, they called a small group of Native Hawaiians together to form NaHHA, a 501 (c)(3) private nonprofit.

We advocate for the development and advancement of Native Hawaiians in tourism as our best investment in future leaders and in the perpetuation of authentic culture in the industry.
We promote Hawaiian culture in the tourism industry through consulting and educating, developing and implementing effective communication tools, conducting research, and providing project support and coordination.
Working to better connect the Hawaiian community and the tourism industry, NaHHA has formed alliances with various Hawaiian organizations and nonprofits, artists and cultural practitioners, and with tourism associations, hotels and private businesses. These connections and alliances have gained NaHHA recognition as lead agency for the Hawaiian Culture Initiative of the Hawai‘i State Tourism Strategic Plan.

In keeping with our mission, NaHHA completed a two-year train-the-trainer program to develop 21 Hawaiians to provide cultural training and consultation. NaHHA's Ola Hawai‘i, "Hawai‘i Lives" graduates now offer cultural education for managers and employees and consultation in cultural competency in the workplace.

Board of Directors

Click on a name for more information about them:

President, Chairman
John Aeto

Vice Chairman, Treasurer
Phil Sammer

Secretary
Jace McQuivey



John DeFries

John DeFries, President

President, Hokuli‘a and Native Sun Business Group

John De Fries is the Founder and President of Native Sun Business Group, a tourism consulting firm whose clients come from diverse fields such as hotel-resort operations and marketing, real estate development, entertainment and the performing arts, television sports marketing and health and wellness.

Mr. De Fries has been directly involved with the Hawai‘i visitor industry for the past 28 years, with 20 years of management and senior executive responsibilities. From 1972 - 1985 his work experience encompassed tour and travel operations, hotel operations, and hotel sales, and marketing, while employed at Amfac Hotels and Resorts and its subsidiary, Island Holidays Tours.

From 1985 - 1992 he served as Vice President-Assistant to the Chairman of Landmark Hotels. During this period, the company had a half-billion dollars worth of Hawai‘i development projects under way, including the Embassy Suites Kā‘anapali; the Kea Lani Hotel in Wailea, Maui; and the Pointe at Poipu on Kaua‘i.

Mr. De Fries was born and raised in Waikīkī, Oahu. He is a graduate of Punahou School and attended the University of Hawai‘i. Today, he and his wife, Ginny, reside in Kona, Hawai‘i.

Boards, Commissions, and Community Involvement:
  • The Five Mountain Medical Community, Board Member
  • Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, Board President
  • Native Hawaiian Culture and Arts Program - Bishop Museum, Board Member

Carla Thomas

Carla Thomas, Vice President

Senior Director of Human Resources, Hyatt Regency Kaua‘i

Michael B. White

Michael B. White, Treasurer

General Manager, Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel

Michael White has been the General Manager of the Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel since 1985 and represented the seventh district in the State House of Representatives from 1993 to 1998. In the Legislation, Mr. White has served on the Tourism, Economic Development and Finance Committees. During his tenure he spearheaded the effort to educate his colleagues on the importance of increased and dedicated funding for visitor promotion as an economic development stimulator.

A lifetime resident of Hawai‘i, Mr. White received his degree from the University of Hawai‘i School of Travel Industry Management. His hotel career began in 1969 at the Halekulani Hotel in Waikīkī, bussing tables in the Hau Tree Terrace Restaurant. He has held various managerial positions at the Hawaiian Regent (1971-1973), Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (1973 - 1982), and the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel (1982 to 1985).

At Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel, Mr. White and Dr. George Kanahele implemented Project Po‘okela, a program designed to enhance employees' understanding of the Hawaiian culture and its values so that visitors will have a more enriching and enjoyable visit. As a result of this process, the Hotel employees have created an atmosphere in which they freely share their aloha with visitors through song, crafts and education. The Po‘okela process has resulted in KBH being recognized as Hawaii's "Most Hawaiian Hotel". The focus on the Hawaiian culture has created true aloha and has provided the Hotel with a product differentiation.

Boards, Commissions, and Community Involvement:
  • Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, Board Member & Officer

Jace McQuivey

Jace McQuivey, Secretary

Vice President/General Counsel, Hawai‘i Reserves, Inc.

Jace McQuivey is currently the General Legal Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Hawai‘i Reserves, Inc. He is responsible for all legal issues related to land and utility management. Prior to joining Hawai‘i Reserves McQuivey was Vice President and General Legal Counsel for Consolidated Resorts, Inc. In this capacity, he was responsible for all legal issues related to time-share development and sales.

Mr. McQuivey has a B.A. degree in Political Science from Brigham Young University, Provo and a Juris Doctor degree from Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School. During law school, he served as President of the Native American Law Students Association.

Boards, Commissions, and Community Involvement:
  • Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, Board Member & Officer
  • Lanihuli Hawaiian Civic Club, Charter Director

John Aeto

John Aeto, President, Chairman

President, Hiki No CC

John Aeto is the President of Hiki No CC, a Hawai‘i based Communications and Consulting Company. Hiki No CC specializes in Government, Community and Media Affairs. Prior to Hiki No CC John was the General Manager of VRE Hawaii, a locally owned Hawai‘i Broadcast Company. John has been in the Media and Broadcast industry for over 23 years and has held several key management positions at both Cox Radio Hawai‘i and VRE Radio Group.

Mr. Aeto is also President of Hiki No Records, a record and production company that started in 1996.

Mr. Aeto graduated from the Kamehameha Schools in 1985 and attended San Mateo College in San Francisco and Hawai‘i Pacific University. He is married (Charmaine), has two children, Jarrison (son) and Janae (daughter), and currently resides in Kapālama Heights.

Boards, Commissions, and Community Involvement:
  • Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA), Board Member
  • Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts, Treasurer
  • Sheraton Hawai‘i Bowl, Board Member
  • March of Dimes Hawai‘i, Board Member
  • Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, Board Member
  • Hale Kipa, Board Member
  • Diamond Head Classic Basketball Tournament, Advisory Committee
  • Pacific Club, Member

Daniel "Kaniela" Kahikina Akaka, Jr.

Daniel "Kaniela" Kahikina Akaka, Jr., Board Member

Director of Cultural Affairs, Mauna Lani Resort

Daniel "Kaniela" Kahikina Akaka, Jr. was born and raised in Nu‘uanu and Pauoa Valleys. He attended the Kamehameha Schools for 13 years. His educational career continued at the University of Hawai‘i where he received a Bachelors degree in the Hawaiian Studies Program.

Mr. Akaka is presently employed at the Mauna Lani Resort, on the Island of Hawai‘i, as the Director of Cultural Affairs. His position at the resort allows him to share the history and culture of Hawai‘i with the hotel guests as well as the many school groups that come to Mauna Lani to learn about Hawaiian aquaculture.

Although he has been employed at Mauna Lani for the past 22 years, his business career has included Aloha Airlines, Hawaiian Holidays, Hawaiian Foliage & Landscaping, the Hawai‘i Maritime Center, and Director of Corporate Affairs for American Hawai‘i Cruises.

Mr. Akaka comes from a family of seven. He and his wife, formerly Anna Lui-Kwan (KS Class ‘72) have chosen Kona to be their home. They have 5 children, one daughter and four sons.

In keeping with the Hawaiian culture, he has had the opportunity to be a crewmember of the Hokule‘a for two of its voyages. His first voyage with the canoe was in 1995 along the Pacific Northwest with his wife, Anna, in attendance. His second voyage was in 1999 in which he participated on the second leg of the voyage to Rapa Nui. His position on the canoe was as the Protocol Officer. Mr. Akaka was also honored to be a participant on other canoe projects which included the making of the "Mauloa" canoe as well as helping construct and sail the double-hulled canoe "Makali‘i". In his work today, Mr. Akaka is involved in perpetuating the culture, the essence, and the Spirit of Hawai‘i.

Boards, Commissions, and Community Involvement:
  • Bishop Museum, Board Member
  • Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, Board Member
  • Pohakuloa Cultural Advisory Board
  • Nā Kokua Kaloko-Honokohau (Friends of Kaloko-Honokohau), Board Member
  • TREE Foundation
  • Nā ‘Aikane o Pu‘ukoholā

Cy Bridges

Cy Bridges, Past President

Cultural Director, Polynesian Cultural Center

Cy M. Bridges is a musician, composer, singer, Kumu Hula, lecturer, and genealogist. He is currently the Cultural Director at the Polynesian Cultural Center where he has been employed for over 41 years.

Mr. Bridges has lectured and made presentations at the: Bishop Museum, BYUH, UH, UCLA, Arizona State University, ALU LIKE, Inc., Queen Lili‘uokalani Children's Center and cultural conferences and festivals in New Zealand, Cook Islands, Tahiti, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico and the Continental U.S. He also serves as a judge for various hula competitions here in Hawai‘i, on the continent as well as Japan, most notably the prestigious Merrie Monarch Festival.

He is the Ko‘olauloa representative on the O‘ahu Island Burial Council of the State Historical Preservations Department. Its purpose is to advise the Department of Land and Natural Resources on all matters pertaining to sacred and historic burial sites more than 50 years old which are located on private, state, and county properties.

Among the most important kuleana he has is being, Hon and dad as well as the esteemed title of Papa.

Sean Craig

Sean Craig

Events Coordinator, Hawaiian Airlines

Sean Ke’oni Craig is a Flight Attendant and Inflight Instructor with Hawaiian Airlines, the state's largest and longest-serving airline.

Craig has over twenty years of experience in the hospitality industry. He has also been involved with Hula for over 29 years and has learned from such renowned Kumu Hula as Chinky Mahoe, Holoua Stender, Aunty Kau’i Zuttermeister, Noenoe Lewis and Frank Kawaikapuokalani Hewett.

He began his professional career in 1988 at the Waikiki Beachcomber Hotel as an Assistant Front Office Manager. He continued on to the Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki, managing in Housekeeping as well as Food and Beverage. Later, he would become the Director of Food and Beverage at the Legends in Concert Showroom at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.

Craig went on to start his own consulting business where he assisted Food and Beverage establishments with the operational aspects of opening, training and staff development. He has also worked with various non-profit agencies with community-based projects.

Today, when he’s not in the air, Craig continues to practice the art of Lomilomi.

Craig is a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools and is from the Windward side of the island of O’ahu. He attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he studied Psychology and Hawaiian Studies. Craig is a certified Alaka`i (trainer) in NaHHA’s Ola Hawai`i cultural curriculum.

Kainoa Daines

Kainoa Daines

Board Member, Ola Hawaiʻi Alakaʻi
Director of Sales – Oʻahu Visitors Bureau


Kainoa is responsible for global sales initiatives, travel trade curriculum development and assists with marketing for the Oʻahu Visitors Bureau, a subsidiary and Island Chapter of the Hawaiʻi Visitors & Convention Bureau. He serves as the unofficial cultural consultant for the Bureau.


Previously with the Queen Kapi‘olani Hotel as Director of Sales/Cultural Director and the Miramar At Waikīkī as Sales Manager, Kainoa is passionate about merging culture and sales/marketing in an entertaining and educational, yet appropriate way.
A resident of Ha‘ikū Kāne‘ohe, Kainoa is also a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools and holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Hotel Administration.


Other Boards, Commissions, and Community Involvement:
Aloha Festivals
Hawai‘i Business Travel Association
Hawaiʻi Capital Cultural Coalition
Hawaiian Civic Club of Honolulu
Kamehameha Schools Alumni Association
Ka Pā Hula Hawai‘i, Kumu Hula John R. Kaha‘i Topolinski
King Kamehameha Celebration Floral Parade
Royal Order of Kamehameha I, Moku o Hawai‘i

 

Kippen de Alba Chu

Kippen de Alba Chu

Executive Director, ‘Iolani Palace

Kippen de Alba Chu worked for many years in the Hawaii State House of Representatives, then spent two years at the Hawaii Insurers Council as assistant executive director before becoming executive director of `Iolani Palace in 2006.

A graduate of Punahou School and the American University of Paris, France, he has also studied in Italy in Urbino and at the University of Bologna. Currently, he is VP of the Hawaii Museums Association, incoming VP – Programs for the Western Museums Association, board member of the Hawaii Capital Cultural Coalition and the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, V.P. of the Aloha Society of Association Executives and a member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I.

Gordon `Umialiloalahanauokalahaua Kai

Gordon `Umialiloalahanauokalahaua Kai

President, Kai Kompany
Regional Manager, Avis Budget Group

Gordon Umialiloalahanauokalakaua King Kai is the Regional Sales and Marketing Manager for Avis Budget Group representing Avis and Budget Car Rentals in Hawai’i.

He has held numerous executive positions in the travel and hospitality industry, including Director of Marketing for Hawaiian Regent Hotel, Mauna Lani Bay Resort and Emerald of Anaheim.

From 1978 to 1981 Mr. Kai served as Vice President of the Hawai’i Visitors and Convention Bureau, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the Hawaiian Islands to travelers from North America’s largest and most important markets.

Mr. Kai is a past Chairman of the Bishop Museum Advisory Council and Board Member of the Native Hawaiian Culture and Arts Program. He is a skilled practitioner of Hawaiian cultural arts specializing in Kāhiko Nā Mea Kaua, Makau and Pōhaku Ku‘i ‘Ai, among others.

Jace McQuivey

Jace McQuivey, Secretary

Vice President/General Counsel, Hawai‘i Reserves, Inc.

Jace McQuivey is currently the General Legal Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Hawai‘i Reserves, Inc. He is responsible for all legal issues related to land and utility management. Prior to joining Hawai‘i Reserves McQuivey was Vice President and General Legal Counsel for Consolidated Resorts, Inc. In this capacity, he was responsible for all legal issues related to time-share development and sales.

Mr. McQuivey has a B.A. degree in Political Science from Brigham Young University, Provo and a Juris Doctor degree from Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School. During law school, he served as President of the Native American Law Students Association.

Boards, Commissions, and Community Involvement:
  • Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, Board Member & Officer
  • Lanihuli Hawaiian Civic Club, Charter Director

Maile Meyer Broderick

Maile Meyer Broderick, Board Member

Founder, Native Books, Inc. Nā Mea Hawai‘i Stores

Maile Meyer founded Native Books in 1990, Native Books & Beautiful Things in 1995, and Na Mea Hawai‘i in 2003. She is an entrepreneur with a passion to support Native Hawaiian producers, artists and manufacturers of made-in Hawai‘i products. Na Mea Hawai‘i currently has three retail stores that celebrate Hawaiian material culture and local products. Native Books works extensively with schools, institutions and libraries to ensure that culturally sensitive, historically accurate information on Hawai‘i is readily available. Native Books maintains a website and assists in the publication of materials important to the Hawaiian community.

Ms. Meyer received an MBA in Marketing and Arts Management at Anderson School of Management, UCLA, Los Angeles, California. She received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University.

Boards, Commissions, and Community Involvement:
  • Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, Board Member
  • Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, Director
  • Mālama Hawai‘i
  • Queen Lili‘uokalani Children's Center, Advisory Council, Member
  • Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association
  • Mālama Hawai‘i Publications Committee
  • Daughters of Hawai‘i
  • Prince Kühiö Hawaiian Civic Club
  • Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club
  • Young of Heart Workshop and Gallery
  • Pu‘uhonua Society
  • Pacific Writers Connection, Director
  • Honolulu Book Festival

Joni Paaha‘o

Joni Paaha‘o, Board Member

Consultant

Joni Paaha‘o has been an integral part of Hawai‘i's visitor industry enjoying a 25 year career in meetings & conventions, corporate, and leisure travel. Before retirement, she held the position of Senior Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Revenue Management with ResortQuest Hawai‘i, formerly Aston Hotels and Resorts. She provided the strategic direction and leadership to achieve fiscal goals by successfully marketing a portfolio of 28 diverse hotel and condominium resort properties on the four major Hawaiian Islands. She understands organization change and has been part of an executive team that successfully led the transition of a privately owned local kama‘āina company to a publicly held firm.

She has experienced all aspects of tourism through the best and worst of times, has in-depth working knowledge of this industry and established relationships with top travel industry leaders and companies that market Hawai‘i throughout North America, Japan, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Joni's true Ho‘ohana is found in the fulfillment of a purpose driven life. As a Native Hawaiian, she believes that the greatest challenge we face is to influence and redirect increasing external and global forces that have an impact on our island state, people and culture, and precious island lifestyle.

She hosted "Responsibility of Aloha", a cultural awareness program bringing together travel industry leaders and community groups from Windward Oahu. She supports a paradigm shift that is based on the concept of mālama ‘āina, stewardship and the notion that if it is good for the locals and residents, it will be good for the tourists, and not the other way around.

Retirement will allow her to further pursue her desire to heighten awareness and recognition of the impact of tourism. She hopes to remove barriers between the travel industry and grassroots communities and serve as a bridge for community tourism. We all share responsibility for the mobilization of large numbers of foreigners into a local social system. This often benefits corporate conglomerates but undermines pre-existing social relationships, natural resources and local lifestyles. The future is up to each and every one of us, and it is not too late for us to be diligent about stewardship to protect, manage and nurture that which sustains us.

Boards, Commissions, and Community Involvement:
  • Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, Board Member

Diane Peters-Nguyen

Diane Peters-Nguyen, Board Member

Vice President, Institutional Advancement - Chaminade University

As Chaminade University's Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Diane Peters-Nguyen directs all aspects of the University's institutional relations, development, and public relations. Since her appointment in 2007, she assisted in the capping of the $66 million Transformations campaign and has worked to raise the overall visibility of the institution. The advancement office is responsible for the athletics fundraising, annual fund, alumni relations, major gifts and University communications and publications. She serves as a member of the President's Leadership Council and, with the President, as a principal liaison to the University's Boards of Regents and Governors. She is also a Trustee of the Chaminade University Education Foundation.

Ms. Peters-Nguyen has a M.A. in International Affairs with an emphasis in East-Asia from George Washington University. She earned her B.A. from the University of California at Santa Barbara and is a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools.

Boards, Commissions, and Community Involvement:
  • Hawai‘i Society of Corporate Planners, President
  • Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, Board Member
  • University Community Partnership, Member
  • UH Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Past Advisory Council Member
  • Friends of the East-West Center, Board Member
  • ‘Ölelo Community Media, Board Member
  • Pacific Arts Foundation, Board Member
  • Prince Kühiö Hawaiian Civic Club, Member
  • Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, Member
  • Honolulu City & County Planning Commission, Chair 2005

Lori Sablas

Lori Sablas, Board Member

Po‘okela Director, Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel

Lori Sablas is the Director of Po‘okela at the Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel on the Island of Maui, a position she has held since 1989. Started in 1986, the Po‘okela program has won state and national recognition for its success in its host cultural training of its employees.

Her past experiences include positions at SRI International in California, as Director of Leisure Sales at the Stouffer Wailea Beach Resort, and as Managing Director of the Kā‘anapali Beach Operators Association from 1977-1987, with the responsibility of marketing and promoting the world's first master-planned resort.

Ms. Sablas has traveled extensively throughout the USA, Canada, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific Islands. Boards, Commissions, and Community Involvement:
  • Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, Founding Board Member
  • Friends of Moku‘ula, Founding Board Member
  • Hawaii Ecotourism Association, Board Member
  • Maui Hawaiian Agencies and Organizations
  • National Ecotourism Association, Advisor
  • Maui County Cultural Resources Commission, Chairperson
  • Mayor's Transportation Committee, Member
  • Lahaina Bypass Now, Board Member
  • Governor's Maui Advisory Council
  • Maui Planning Commissioner
  • Lahaina Restoration Foundation, Board Member

Phil Sammer

Phil Sammer, Vice Chairman, Treasurer

General Manager, ‘Ilima Hotel

Phil Sammer has been General Manager of the ‘Ilima Hotel in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, since 1984.

His previous positions include: Hotel General Manager, Captain Cook Beach Hotel, Moorea, French Polynesia; General Manager, Hawaiian King Hotel, Honolulu, Hawai‘i; and Hotel Assistant Manager, Ala Moana Hotel, Honolulu Hawai‘i.

Boards, Commissions, and Community Involvement:
  • Hawai‘i Hotel Association 1994-1995, Chair
  • State Tourism Training Council 1992-1997, Member
  • Chamber of Commerce Visitor Industry Council, Past Chairman
  • Board of Managers of Central YMCA, Past Chairman
  • Alliance Franchise of Hawai‘i, Past President
  • Rotary Club of Waikīkī, Past President
  • Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, Board Member
  • Hawai‘i Region, Y Service Clubs International, U.S. Area President
  • Better Business Bureau, Board Member
  • Hospitality Education Project, Committee Member

Hi`ilani Shibata

Hi`ilani Shibata

Education Operations Manager, Bishop Museum Education Department

Debbralee Hi'ilani Shibata is the Education Operations Manager at the Bishop Museum, the premier natural and cultural history institution in the Pacific. As part of the museum’s Education Department, Ms. Shibata created the Alaka’i Career Ladder Youth Program, which supports the professional advancement of Bishop Museum interns.

Ms. Shibata’s professional career has focused on the preservation, development and dissemination of Hawaiian culture and traditions. She has taught Hawaiian language, hula, storytelling and cultural traditions both in Hawaii and on the mainland.

From 2003 – 2007 she organized Hawaiian keiki storytelling and hula performances for the ECHO Performing Arts Festival Tour and for the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. and New York City.

Previous to her position at the Bishop Museum, Ms. Shibata was facilitator for the Native Hawaiian Education O’ahu Island Council. From 1997 – 2000, she was an instructor in Hawaiian language and culture at Kailua Intermediate School where she also taught hula and Tahitian dance and established the Polynesian Dance Club.

Ms. Shibata earned her B.A in Hawaiian Language from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, where she was also an assistant in the Kukamaile Project at UH Hawaiian Language Department. Ms. Shibata is a recipient of the Ola Hawai’i – Alakai’i certification from the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association.