Our Islands, Our Future
Adaptive Capacity For Your Business

Adaptive Capacity For Your Business

The 12th Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) Women in Business Seminar Series webinar, Adaptive Capacity and What It Means for Your Business, was presented in partnership with the Women’s Business Enterprise Council (WBEC). Supported by the SBA Community Navigator Pilot Program, and the County of Maui, WBEC is one of the official WOSB Certifiers for SBA Women Owned Small Business certifications. Businesses can get certified as being a 51% owned and operated (Minority, Women Veteran) in order to qualify for special consideration in government and private contracts, and to participate in a sponsor company’s Supplier Diversity program.

Guest speaker Pamela Stambaugh, president and founder of Accountability Pays, Inc., talked about adaptive capacity and how to respond to the challenges and uncertainty brought about not only by the Maui wildfires of August 8th, but also ongoing turmoil in politics, industry and society. 

An ICF certified executive coach who has practiced as a Behavioral Change Master for over 30 years, Stambaugh discussed the importance of accountability coaching and leadership effectiveness training to elevate performance on what matters the most. For clients, this has included raising operating results, upgrading team performance, and creating a culture of trust and open authentic communication. She has worked with global, small and midsized companies across many industries.

“Adaptive capacity is the ability to adapt quickly and appropriately, given different opinions and limited by blind spots and uncertainties,” Stambaugh said. “We can get trapped in our heads, stopped by circumstances, and bring less than our ideal selves to conversations. When it comes to managerial roles, this is important because a manager’s behavior has impacts. My presentation covered the delicate balance between internal and external forces, and choices made.”

The workplace is changing faster than ever, and so are the issues facing both employees and administrators. “The speed of change, responding to new and competitive forces, and keeping up with accelerated existing trends in remote work, in addition to employee upskilling and reskilling, increases the stress on businesses,” Stambaugh noted. “These demands are actually a continuum of leadership accountability and capability that must be balanced to lead in these challenging times.”

You can watch replay at

Adaptive capacity is one of the most important topics affecting Maui and our state since the August 8th wildfires. Pamela offered insightful messages to the participants on how to move forward. Annette Lynch, MEDB Director of Communications

Genesis of Waihee Ahupuaa Mural Project

Genesis of Waihee Ahupuaa Mural Project

Viewpoints Art Gallery in Makawao, one of the finest art galleries in the state, is also driven by a keen sense of community. Gallery Director Oliver Perez and Art Director Joelle Perez provide a space and a nurturing spirit that celebrates the rich culture of Hawaii. As part of an on-going program started by Joelle and sponsored by Viewpoints, called the ‘Reaching Out Project’, her most recent idea was to work with children’s designs to create a mural. The question became, how to bring this idea to fruition.

“I reached out to my friend Mary Anna Grimes, the Maui educator for Papahana Kuaola, an aloha-`aina-based education organization connecting Hawaii’s past with a sustainable future,” Joelle explained. “She and I reached out to Waihe`e School’s principal, Paula Inouye, the 4th grade teachers and students to share information about wetlands, watersheds, and the formation of the Hawaiian Islands. Because of its location, much emphasis was placed on the Waihe`e Ahupua`a, which was the perfect soil for our idea to grow. We wanted the children to focus on the ahupua`a system from the mountain to the sea, and practice the concepts of sustainability and self-sufficiency.”

Grimes noted, “Joelle envisioned the children’s artistic spontaneity by enlarging their smaller drawing of their understanding of each section of the ahupua`a system—uka, kula, kai. I gave a Papahana Kuaola presentation on the ahupua`a system to the entire 4th grade, and Joelle gave introductory painting lessons. Teachers continued to highlight main concepts of self-sufficiency throughout the year, and the students created drawings in the spring semester of a certain element of their choice.”

Joelle and Grimes agreed that the project has been an amazing experience that the students thoroughly enjoyed and learned from. “We were able to use the eighty-eight student drawings to prepare twenty 18×24-inch wood panels that will result in a comprehensive mural depicting a Hawaiian ahupua`a,” Joelle said. “These completed panels will be displayed on a lobby wall in the new administration building presently being constructed at Waihe`e School, as a testament to the students’ inspiration and collaboration.”

We would like to thank Viewpoints Art Gallery for sponsoring projects that provide a space and a nurturing spirit that celebrates the rich culture of Hawaii. Joelle Perez, Viewpoints Art Director, Mary Anna Grimes, Papahana Kuaola Educator

Stars of Hope

Stars of Hope

For the past four weeks a group of amateur astronomers, under the direction of Dr. J.D. Armstrong, Educational Outreach Coordinator for the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy, have been setting up amateur telescopes at some of the hotels where people who have lost their homes have been staying. Derek Takeno of the Red Cross asked Armstrong if it was possible to bring some telescopes out for the residents. Studies have shown that astronomy outreach has a positive mental effect for people suffering from trauma and depression. Plus, the effort, named Stars of Hope, has had an outpouring of volunteers who also have experienced a sense of happiness in being able to share some aloha with people affected by the fires. 

“Our volunteers consist of people with a passion for astronomy, including astronomy students from UH Maui College and STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) teachers,” said Dr. Cindy L. Krach, Haleakala Amateur Astronomers. “Individuals from these groups bring out telescopes and set them up on the hotel grounds. Royal Lahaina hotel was the initial site, then Honua Kai, and the Westin Hotel in Kaanapali. The volunteers set up telescopes and then show off the night sky, sharing their knowledge. We have talked story with adults and children alike, some evenings speaking to between 30 and 100 individuals. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere outside in nature. People can just walk up to anyone with a telescope and are encouraged to have a look and ask questions.”

Armstrong reflected, “I just want to do something for people so they know we care. Some people want to share their stories, sometimes they just want to have a relaxing evening under the stars, enjoying a unique experience.” 

Krach added, “There is a sense of quiet and peace, but also excitement, particularly with the children. We have received positive feedback from the Red Cross and the people that come to the events. Some have said they had never had the opportunity to look through a telescope before. One little girl came back four times to look at the moon, saying, ‘It’s just so beautiful.’”

We hope to continue our weekly Stars of Hope parties and in the future we’re also planning some events for first responders and their families. Dr. Cindy L. Krach, Haleakala Amateur Astronomers

Student Space Exploration Day 2023

Student Space Exploration Day 2023

Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) has developed a wide-ranging slate of programs to advance K-12 STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education for the County of Maui and statewide. Together with an extensive network of partners, MEDB has initiated innovative educational programs and services that support both students and educators. Their end goal is a resident workforce with the technological capabilities, innovation, critical thinking, and entrepreneurial skills to participate fully in Hawaii’s economy. 

“Essentially, MEDB’s educational programs are designed to balance the need for economic stability and diversity,” said Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO. “We design each program with respect for the community’s cultural and environmental traditions.” 

Recently, MEDB hosted 150 middle and high school students and STEM educators for Student Space Exploration Day. Participants met with former astronaut Scott ‘Scooter’ Altman for a firsthand discussion of living and working in space. The students also experienced hands-on scientific demonstrations and presentations of advanced technologies. 

Altman, a retired United States Navy Captain, talked about his four Space Shuttle missions as well as his time as a Naval aviator, test pilot, engineer, and astronaut. “I like to engage with students because it’s important that we connect with the next generation and get them interested in space-related issues,” he said. “It will be students in this age group, whom I am talking to today, who might be the first ones on Mars!”

Melinda White, Hawaii Technology Academy STEM educator, said, “It’s amazing to bring students to this event and expose them to career pathways that exist for their future in Hawaii. We are a STEMworks™  school and truly appreciate all the opportunities MEDB provides for  students across the state; such as their Lending Library which includes a portable planetarium.”

Wilson Chau, a Maui High School junior, said, “Meeting astronaut Scott Altman was a great experience. I am currently doing a project with the James Webb telescope and I learned so much from Mr. Altman’s talk. Thank you, MEDB and STEMworks, for all the opportunities you give students from different backgrounds to encounter the current advances in technology. I am grateful for this chance to further my career goals.”

Student Space Exploration Day really opens the students up to different opportunities they never even thought of. It is so difficult to get exposure like this for them. MEDB makes it all happen! Jennifer Suzuki, Maui Waena School Technology Teacher

Empower, Explore, Engage, Excel!

Empower, Explore, Engage, Excel!

This summer, 20 middle-school girls had the opportunity to attend Excite Camp, a STEMworks™ program sponsored by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB). The three-day camp encourages girls to pursue education and careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), while offering stimulating, experience-based instruction focused on today’s most in-demand career fields. The event combines lectures, hands-on-activities, and company-site tours while honoring Hawaiian culture.

Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO, said, “Besides the learning experience, STEMworks believes it is important for the girls to see the connection between Hawaii’s cultural heritage and scientific technology. Integrating Hawaiian traditions into hands-on STEM learning activities helps foster cultural understanding and ensures equity of access for all.”

Lalaine Pasion, STEMworks Program Specialist, explained, “Excite Camp builds confidence and motivates our young ladies with STEM activities, demonstrating that they can achieve anything they set their minds on. The girls experienced interactive learning, exciting technology tours, epic field trips, and STEM empowerment sessions. At the end of the program, the girls were no longer strangers, but colleagues and friends. They learned the value of teamwork, communication, and respect for their island heritage.”

‘Iolani Kū’oha, Vice-Principal at Molokai Middle School, noted, “I can’t say enough about the opportunities STEMworks has provided for our Molokai students over the years. They are inspired to work hard and dream big at events like Excite Camp. ‘A’ ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia. No task is too big when done together.”

Paige Kealoha Nakihei, 7th grade Molokai Middle School, said, “Excite Camp gave me a better view of STEM careers in our Hawaiian culture. STEMworks allows me to learn more about science with girls my age. Mahalo nui loa, MEDB!”

Middle school student Destiny-Rayne Perry added, “We also got to see a film about Patsy Mink, who proved to everyone in Hawaii that women can do anything a man can do. By participating in programs like Excite Camp we show respect for what Patsy Mink won for all women and girls with Title IX. We are encouraged to embrace our uniqueness, stay connected to our roots, and to share our story.”

Excite Camp is successful because of our great community partners who are willing to share their knowledge, time, and resources to teach our girls fun, hands-on STEM activities, give them onsite tours, and impart cultural knowledge. Lalaine Pasion, STEMworks Program Specialist

The Digital Bus Program

The Digital Bus Program

The Digital Bus, currently managed by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), is a program of Alaka’ina, a nonprofit 501(c)3 which ensures that the young men and women of Hawaii have the skills and competencies they need to be effective leaders. MEDB and Alaka’ina have made the Digital Bus program a reality with innovative educational programs that combine leadership, science, technology, and environmental stewardship. The Digital Bus offers mobile STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) classrooms to supplement curriculum to the students of Maui and Molokai as well as encourage interest in science and technology among the underrepresented student population.

“In operation since 2004, the Digital Bus offers single- and multiple-day classroom and field-based STEM projects to K-12 students,” said Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO. “Developed out of necessity due to the altered school year regulations during the Covid-19 pandemic,  virtual projects were designed to be a combination of self-directed activities, classroom discussions, research projects, and video chats with the Digital Bus.”

Presently, projects are available for a range of grade levels. Scheduling for the Digital Bus is currently open for teachers who are interested in organizing a project for their class, and it can also be booked for community events. Additionally, professional development workshops through a teacher lending program provide opportunities for technology integration into curriculum and classroom usage.

U’ilani Lima, Molokai Digital Bus Site Coordinator, said, “The Digital Bus allows participants to have meaningful science-based outdoor experiences in ahupua’a (land divisions) from which they can directly learn and observe their own community’s resiliency and ecosystems. More importantly, students gain a deeper understanding of their rich cultural history, which includes the wisdom of ancient Hawaiians as environmental stewards. Participants benefit from contact with local community members, specialists, and kupuna while also integrating cutting edge technology such as water- and soil-testing equipment, data collection and mapping activities, and hands-on field-based activities. The Digital Bus projects aim to expand the next generation of leaders and scientists capable of developing and supporting critical technologies for the future with state-of-the-art mobile learning platforms and field-based science projects.”

The current technology goal of the Digital Bus Program is to develop skills that will result in more options for youth in Maui County.

Leslie Wilkins, President and CEO, MEDB
Federal Resource Fair and FEMA Update

Federal Resource Fair and FEMA Update

On Saturday, August 19th, U. S. Representative Jill Tokuda from Hawaii’s 2nd District and her staff held a Federal Resource Fair for individuals, families, and businesses who have been impacted by the Maui wildfires. Hosted by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) at their Ke Alahele Center in Kihei, Tokuda worked tirelessly to support survivors in search of information on replacing important documents. “We brought together local, state, and federal agencies in one place so those who have lost so much can receive immediate help,” said Tokuda. “The destruction of the community and stories of loved ones lost or still waiting to be found are devasting. My team and I will continue to support the Maui community as resources are mobilized to assist survivors.”

Several hundred residents attended the event. Participating federal agencies included: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), disaster aid; Social Security Administration, social security support; State Department, passport replacement; U.S. Postal Service, mail support; Veterans Benefits Administration; U.S. Department of Agriculture, farm service agency, rural development, and agricultural support for producers and communities; HUD and MEO, housing, language assistance, disability rights, Native Hawaiian healing, and more.

Due to the higher than expected attendance and the appreciation expressed for the welcome help, the Resource Fair will be repeated this Saturday (August 26th) at a location in Kaanapali to be determined – watch for announcements on social media and local news outlets. Those who cannot attend can request individual assistance on Tokuda’s website:, or call the Hawaii District Office at 808-746-6220.

Additional updates for those displaced include hotel housing provided through a FEMA   program, which the Red Cross is administering under a contract with the state of Hawaii. While survivors are in hotels they will receive exactly the same services available now at the shelters: meals, mental health support, health services support, spiritual care, financial assistance and casework. Those who need housing can call 1-800-733-2767 for more information. To register for FEMA assistance call 1-800-621-3362, visit the FEMA disaster assistance website (, download the FEMA assistance app ( or visit the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center, open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the University of Hawaii Maui College. FEMA specialists are helping people register for disaster assistance, connect with volunteer organizations, and have access to federal and state resources.

The road ahead to recovery will be long and challenging, but our communities are tough. We will pull together, help each other, and we will rebuild! U. S. Representative Jill Tokuda, Hawaii’s 2nd District

STEMworks™ Ag Business & Technology Internship Program

STEMworks™ Ag Business & Technology Internship Program

Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) showcased their STEMworks™ Ag Business and Technology Internship Program at the 2023 Maui County Farm Bureau Maui AgFest & 4-H Livestock Fair. Through the program, students in grades 9-12 and college undergraduates have the opportunity to gain experience in multiple industries within the agriculture sector to find their interests, build their resume, and become career-ready. These experiences provide invaluable work-based learning for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) students, not only to explore professional pathways, but also to work on meaningful projects using industry-standard technologies.

“The purpose of the Ag Business & Technology Internship program, now available for fall, spring, and summer semesters, is to provide students with opportunities to explore careers and gain hands-on learning in a field of their interest, which they would not get in a classroom setting,” said Britney James STEMworks Agriculture Program Specialist. “MEDB comes to the Maui AgFest & 4-H Livestock Fair each year to promote the program and the Ag industry in general. We need more youth going into the Ag industry and hopefully this program inspires them to consider it, or at least gives them a better understanding of the industry.”

Baldwin High School student Mylez Planesi Kauhola said, “I interned at Waipono Farm Aquaponic & Hydroponic Greenhouse at UH Maui College. Learning about how to take care of the fish and how to farm certain plants using all water and no dirt, has made me interested in learning more about how to do hydroponics and raising fish. I am always excited to learn new things.”

Lae’ula Kaauwai, 9th grade homeschooler shared, “I am an intern at Sust’āinable Molokai’s Mobile Market, where I’m learning how they connect farmers with customers for locally-grown food to supply the community’s needs. I also want to learn how to help my community in every way I can.” 

STEMworks marketing intern Emma Jane Roy, Baldwin High School 10th grade, added, “I created social media posts for each of the students, created the presentation for our showcase, designed flyers, and the intern booklet. I learned about the different aspects of marketing, which is my career aspiration.” 

Ag Business & Technology Internship requirements include attending weekly virtual professional development meetings, and presenting at the final showcase. Plus, interns receive a stipend upon successful completion. Britney James, STEMworks Agriculture Program Specialist

Pathways to our Future

Pathways to our Future

Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) Ke Alahele Education Fund grantee, King Kekaulike High School, applied STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) funding towards Tower Garden® growing systems for an aeroponics project, “The Power of a Plant: STEM in the Special Education Classroom”. Aeroponics is the method of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil. The project supports at-risk special education students, but other students also reaped the benefits of this innovative learning experience using STEM concepts.

King Kekaulike teacher Dori Pritchett said, “I have been working toward developing programs and experiences that would empower my students with skills they need to thrive in their future careers. Thanks to the Ke Alahele grant, I was able to obtain the vertical aeroponic growing systems with seeds, nutrients, and supplies−everything we need to get growing. Instead of soil, Tower Garden® plants grow in a medium called rockwool, which provides plant roots with oxygen and consistent moisture.”

Throughout the project, Pritchett’s students were directly involved in creating state-of-the-art farming solutions, beginning with the biology of growing food. STEM concepts showed how constructing aeroponic structures leads to the idea of developing large-scale systems that are sustainable and productive. For example, NASA has been studying aeroponics for several decades, as a way of growing food in space habitats. “The students integrated local culture through the creation of healthy food dishes designed with their own produce,” Pritchett explained. “The project lends itself to teaching them how to become entrepreneurs, create income, and contribute to the community. I’m grateful to MEDB for helping me provide incredible experiences like this for my students.”

The students said that the Tower Garden® growing system was a positive addition to the classroom. Tenth grader Adryanna Kurosawa noted, “I learned about aeroponics and how to measure the pH which allows the plants to absorb nutrients.” Samuel Contreras, 9th grader, added, “The most interesting thing I learned was that plants can live, grow, and thrive indoors. The aeroponic tower was a positive addition to our class because all the kids got to work together.”

MEDB’s Ke Alahele Education Fund supports a myriad of STEM education programs. The annual Ke Alahele Education Fund Benefit Dinner & Auction, ‘Pathways to Our Future,’ will be held on Saturday, August 31, 2019 at the Wailea Beach Resort-Maui Marriott. For reservations visit

Dodi Pritchett, Study Skills teacher, King Kekaulike High School