Our Islands, Our Future
Healthcare exploration for students

Healthcare exploration for students

This spring, Maui Economic Development Board’s STEMworks™ program organized three Healthcare Exploration Day events with Maui Health. The events, hosted by the Maui Health team at Maui Memorial Medical Center (MMMC) and made possible by generous funding from the County of Maui, aimed to inspire and educate students from middle and high school campuses across Maui, Molokai, and Lāna’i. In total, 11 schools, 260 students, and 20 healthcare professionals participated in hands-on activities, seeing first-hand how students can make a difference in their communities by learning life-saving skills.

The events began with moving pules by Kumu Iolani Kuoha and Kumu Luana Kawa’a, which acknowledged the land served by Maui Nui’s healthcare professionals. The students then learned about the dangers of distracted driving from MMMC nursing staff. Additional breakout sessions were held on stop the bleed skills, hands-on compressions, automated external defibrillator (AED) use, recognizing signs of stroke, trauma resuscitation techniques, the role of respiratory therapy in healthcare, imaging technology, and volunteer opportunities at the hospital.

The third event in the series also featured Marian Horikawa-Barth, Chief Nurse Executive for MMMC. She spoke to the students about her role and the critical need in Maui County for more medical professionals. “As we face a growing shortage of healthcare professionals, this event is not just an educational opportunity, but a crucial step towards inspiring the next generation,” said Lalaine Pasion, STEMworks program specialist. “By bringing together Maui’s health professionals to demonstrate a variety of medical fields, we aimed to spark interest in healthcare careers at an early age.”

Lynn A. Fulton, Maui Health CEO, noted, “Maui Health provides a great opportunity for students to be able to build a career. There is nothing like seeing what happens in a hospital through interactions with the people who work here.”

Maui Health Human Resources Leader Tara K. Cole shared, “Healthcare Exploration Day is designed to provide students, who are interested in healthcare but are perhaps not sure which field will best suit their gifts and goals, a chance to learn about all that our programs have to offer. Positions are available right out of high school.”

For more information, visit online or call 808-242-2251 on Wednesdays to speak to a recruiter.

I’m very interested in the medical field. Today I learned the importance of vital life-saving skills and that emergencies can happen to anyone, at any time. I want to be prepared!
Jaiden Ibañez, 8th grader, Maui Waena Intermediate School

Reimagining Resilience

Reimagining Resilience

In a world where extreme weather events are increasing in severity and frequency, prioritizing energy resilience for homes, businesses, and communities is the only path forward to maintain a reliable and accessible supply of energy. Done properly, resilient energy systems can also improve health, comfort, and affordability.

The 11th Hawaii Energy Conference (HEC) on May 22 and 23 will explore cutting-edge solutions to improve resilience in the face of a rapidly changing climate. Hear from experts on topics such as whether biofuels can really support resilience while lowering carbon emissions and how resilience planning can prioritize historically marginalized and disadvantaged communities. The HEC will also provide an update from the Legislature and a discussion of the pros and cons of undergrounding and insulating electrical lines.

Distributed energy resources (DERs), including photovoltaic coupled with batteries, are critical tools for strengthening energy resilience in this volatile operating environment, and the HEC will highlight several flexible and wide-ranging applications for DERs already deployed to support housing on Maui since the August 2023 fires. The HEC brings together experts and thought leaders to connect and explore the latest advancements shaping the energy landscape world-wide. Join us at the MACC as we talk story about risk management, grid stability, and adaptive solutions that ensure a reliable and resilient energy supply.

Weekend for Peace

Weekend for Peace

A World Peace Event, presented by Mindfulness Presentations, Films and Concert, will be held on Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24 at the Iao Theater in Wailuku. The fundraiser for Keola Beamer’s Mohala Hou Foundation, whose mission is to spread aloha around the world, will include a full weekend program. On Saturday the 23rd, the presentation kicks off at 1pm with the film Himalayan Prayer for World Peace 3D by PBS award-winning Maui filmmaker and humanitarian, Dr. Tom Vendetti, and a stage presentation on World Peace and Compassion byTibetan Flautist Nawang Khechog. The event will continue with a panel discussion on Telescopes, Microscopes and Human Consciousness, followed by two additional films.

On Sunday the 24th, the World Peace Concert begins at 3pm with Maui born and raised slack key master, Jeff Peterson and Khechog, plus Dr. Vendetti’s film: Tibetan Illusion Destroyer 3D. “Peterson, the son of a paniolo at Haleakala Ranch, was exposed to the sounds of slack key at an early age,” Vendetti noted. “His style fuses traditional slack key with elements of classical and jazz guitar, styles at which he is also adept. His most recent solo album, Maui on My Mind,shows his love for the island. His concerto for slack key guitar, Malama ‘Aina, has three movements dedicated to the three volcanoes in Hawaii, Haleakala, Kilauea, and Mauna Loa.”Peterson commented, “I am proud of the rich heritage of Hawaiian music my father introduced me to. In addition to performing, I have taught guitar online during the pandemic and at the University of Hawaii. Playing slack key has brought me peace. I strive to share this peace with others in Hawaii and worldwide.”

Khechog, born in Tibet and a frequent Maui visitor, is a self-taught musician, Tibetan flute player and composer. It has been said that his sublime flute playing defies time, leaving one speechless.“One of the marvels of music is that it cultivates kindness, compassion, and love,” said Khechog.“These precious human values are the foundation of true happiness. They are at the core of peaceful coexistence with one another and with our environment.”

I am honored to be part of this World Peace Event. The initiative serves to make the world a better place through music, film and aloha. Dr. Tom Vendetti, Maui Filmmaker & Humanitarian

Hawaii Stem Conference 2024

Hawaii Stem Conference 2024

Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) STEMworks™ Program announced that Grammy award-winning Maui High and STEMworks alumnus Jason Baum will be one of the keynote speakers for the 15th Annual Hawaii STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) Conference. Taking place on April 4-5 at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu, the conference is presented each year by MEDB to inspire Hawaii’s middle and high school students to study and pursue careers in STEM fields by giving them opportunities to learn directly from industry professionals.

“MEDB is proud to present the 15th Annual Hawaii STEM Conference,” said Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President & CEO. “We are also honored to have Jason Baum speak to attendees about his career in creative media. We expect over 500 student participants this year from both public and independent schools statewide. Virtually every field in every sector of the economy, whether a small business or major industry, needs STEM professionals. Preparing our youth to be resilient, well-educated, and self-directed learners is at the heart of all MEDB’s STEMworks programs. That is what this conference is all about.” 

In addition to the keynote talks, the conference will offer students and teachers professional development sessions on over 20 different STEM topics. Led by industry experts, the session topics will include aerospace engineering and aviation, ChatGPT, AI (artificial intelligence), coding, cybersecurity, and more. Students will also have access to the latest technologies to showcase their skills. 

“Pre-conference competitions are currently underway and are open to all K-12 students in Hawaii,” said Katie Taladay, STEMworks Program Manager. “Plus, student conference attendees will be able to participate in on-site competitions and activities, such as video game design, anti-vaping health, renewable energy innovation, ecosystem conservation, short film production, and others.”

In addition, students and teachers will have the chance to talk story with industry professionals. During a more structured 5×5 networking session, students and professionals will be able to chat about STEM career pathways. Taladay added, “Registration for the 15th Annual Hawaii STEM Conference is currently open for students and teachers. STEM industry professionals are also invited to register to participate as speakers or exhibitors.” More information can be found online at

Seeing Jason Baum and other STEMworks alumni, who are in their own careers now, coming back to our events to give other students the opportunities they were given, is priceless! Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President & CEO

A Time To Heal

A Time To Heal

During a Day of Healing Workshop in Upcountry Maui, sponsored by The Rotary Club of Maui, Dr. Bridget Bongaard set out to help those who are experiencing grief and PTSD because of the Maui wildfires, or any kind of trauma. Bongaard, a board-certified internal medicine physician, as well as a hospice-certified medical director, has used her knowledge to set up numerous integrative medicine programs and retreats over the years. In addition, with the Pacific Cancer Foundation, Bongaard co-founded the first annual Maui Cancer Wellness retreat. 

“The goal of trauma healing is to give participants a feeling that they have control over their lives again,” Bongaard explained. “My approach to wellness is a three-dimensional process: physical, emotional and spiritual. We work step-by-step to achieve the different stages of understanding how our brains and bodies work when life’s events happen. Then, we discuss the emotional impact that we carry with the memory, and how to move beyond this and fill the gaps in our lives.”

Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Bongaard led the group to fully understand what their loss meant to them individually and how to move beyond it. A session on resilience despite all odds, taught the group how to create peace and purpose in an uncertain world and how to find new solutions for problems. To help overcome grief and trauma, Dr. Bongaard also discussed the five stages of the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle.

Bongaard added, “While learning through these different modalities, participants also had the opportunity to take time for themselves, interact with others, tell their stories, and enjoy nutritious food. Plus, it’s wonderful to make new friends and build community.”

Many people affected by wildfires or other traumatic events need time and space away from their normal duties and routines to be able to focus on themselves and gain insight. Workshop participant Katy Shroder, a clinical psychologist from Lahaina, who lost her home, possessions, and place of worship, shared, “Since the fires I have been helping others with their trauma and healing. This workshop was the first occasion I took time to heal myself. I truly appreciate the opportunity.”

Everyone has experienced pain or loss in his or her life at some time. Our healing workshop offers the courage to overcome trauma and fears and live a peaceful life.” For info about the next workshop call 808-866-6155, or email Dr. Bridget Bongaard, Founder, Maui Cancer Resource

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

Hawaii Energy Conference returns to the MACC

Hawaii Energy Conference returns to the MACC

The annual Hawaii Energy Conference returns to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, May 24 – 25. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the conference is presented by the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and will feature a mix of keynote speakers, panel discussions, case studies and an exhibit venue.

Panels will explore:

  • Is getting to 100% Renewables still desirable, still doable, still worth the price?
  • How can we get clean energy projects permitted, interconnected, and operational in a reasonable period of time?
  • What is the next step in our efforts toward decarbonized energy, and what role does hydrogen play?
  • What are the energy related priorities of the Hawai’i Legislature and the Governor?
  • What is Energy Equity and how do we achieve it in the pursuit of state energy goals such as 100% renewables and net-zero greenhouse gas emissions
  • ….and more

Please visit for more information.

There is so much to talk about at the Hawaii Energy Conference, both the formal panel discussions and all the informal ‘talk story’ conversations that occur away from the stage and during the breaks. Doug McLeod, DKK Energy Services, member HEC Program Committee

Junior Rodeo, Ballet and The Nutcracker

Junior Rodeo, Ballet and The Nutcracker

Ten-year-old Moorea Winter Feliciano is both a dancer and an Upcountry junior rodeo participant. Dancing ballet since she was three years old with the Alexander Academy of Performing Arts (AAPA), she is also a member of the nonprofit Maui Youth Rodeo Organization (MYRO). Ballet and rodeo make such a unique and unexpected combination. Yet, they have a few important similarities: both take time and dedication, both take a specific skill level, both take passion, both have levels of difficulty that humble you greatly, and both take hours of extra practice.

Feliciano explained, “I spend many hours after my schoolwork practicing both ballet and riding. I help clean the ballet studio in exchange for extra classes, and I am a teacher’s assistant to younger dancers. Also, I volunteer time to help set up for rodeo, and fundraise for both ballet and rodeo. For me, it is being part of something greater than myself. Also, the number of friends from ballet who are coming to my rodeo shows, and the rodeo friends who are coming to ballet shows, makes my heart so full.”

MYRO provides opportunities for children on Maui to participate in rodeo events throughout the year: riding, roping and more. Members practice good conduct, sportsmanship, and a commitment to good grades. Morag Rice Miranda, Maui District-Hawaii High School Rodeo Association representative, always announces Feliciano as, “an accomplished dancer, our ballerina rider.” 

This year, Feliciano landed the ‘every little girl’s dream role’ of Clara in AAPA’s 2022 annual holiday tradition, The Nutcracker. She will dance the role on Saturday evening and the closing performance, besides other parts. “A lot of hard work must happen first,” she said. “Both dancing and rodeo help me to set big goals for myself and see them through. My motto is: If you believe you can, you will!”

Paul Janes-Brown, Maui Curtain Call, said, “At ten years old, Feliciano is a young lady to watch. She helped choregraph a wonderful contemporary dance performance in the 2022 AAPA performance of Sleeping Beauty. I look forward to seeing her perform the role of Clara in this year’s Nutcracker.”

I love the magic that happens onstage and at the rodeo!” The Nutcracker will be performed December 16-18 at Seabury Hall’s ‘A’ali’ikūhonua Creative Arts Center. Visit Eventbrite for Nutcracker tickets and for rodeo information. Moorea Winter Feliciano, Member, AAPA and MYRO

Celestial Navigation @ Emer-gen

Celestial Navigation @ Emer-gen

A distinguished line-up of speakers and mentors joined the 5th annual EMER-GEN Program presented by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) at the 2022 Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies (AMOS) Conference. A joint initiative of AMOS and the Space Generation Advisory Council, over twenty leaders in the space industry supported the emerging generation of young professionals enthusiastic about careers in space. Forty-eight delegates met for EMER-GEN, with nearly half of these based in Hawaii, to help develop aerospace careers locally.

Maui resident Kalā Baybayan Tanaka offered the Celestial Navigation presentation. She is responsible for Education Direction and Program Implementation at Hui O Wa`a Kaulua, a sea-voyaging non-profit organization on Maui dedicated to the practice and perpetuation of Hawaiian canoe building, wayfinding and voyaging arts. She is also a UH Manoa STEMS^2 Masters student in Curriculum Studies. Tanaka introduced the EMER-GEN cohort to the Hawaiian Star Compass and other aspects of Hawaiian culture which pertain to leadership and communication. She inherited her love for the ocean and passion for sailing from her father, Pwo (master) Chad Kalepa Baybayan, who served  as one of the lead captains and navigators of the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage—Hōkūle`a.

“I shared Hawaiian lore, explored traditional navigational techniques and provided an intimate look at the relationship between the celestial bodies and history,” Tanaka explained. “Each of my own voyages taught me to be more in sync with my environment. I shared my passion for wayfinding and told the cohort stories of the stars that have led my way forward, and always guided my way home.”

Cohort member Rishin Aggarwal, Indian Space Research Organization, said, “Tanaka has a way of breaking down navigation so we could all understand it and also feel empowered by it. She said you do not have to be Hawaiian to be wayfinders and learn voyaging. You simply need a deep desire to learn. She also stressed the importance of teamwork, skills much needed by our EMER-GEN cohort, in our space industry careers, and daily life.”

Frances Zhu, UH Assistant Professor, Hawaii Space Flight Laboratory, added, “Tanaka shows the spiritual side of astronomy, wayfaring and voyaging. I am so inspired by her.”

In 2016, as captain and co-navigator alongside my father on the Hikianalia, I learned so much while sailing from Hawaii to Tahiti, thousands of miles, without modern instruments. Kalā Baybayan Tanaka, Hui O Wa`a Kaulua