Kauai News

Native Hawaiian Scholar Part of National Racial Healing Program

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A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa academic is part of a national effort to advance racial and health equity.

Kaiwipunikauikawēkiu Punihei Lipe

Native Hawaiian Affairs program officer Kaiwipunikauikawēkiu Punihei Lipe, who fosters UH-Mānoa’s goal to become a Native Hawaiian Place of Learning, was tabbed to join the inaugural cohort of the Culture of Health Leaders Institute for Racial Healing, a program conducted by the National Collaborative for Health Equity in Washington D.C. Lipe, the only representative from Hawaiʻi, joins 39 leaders from 21 states as part of the first cohort.

“My main mission when it comes to implementation here at UH-Mānoa and in Hawaiʻi is to bring as many innovative and strategic strategies that can help us to scale up and sustain Hawaiʻi-grounded efforts that foster truth sharing, racial healing and relationship building deep within and across sectors so that we can create the healthy, loving and thriving futures our keiki and moʻopuna (grandchildren) deserve,” Lipe said in a press release. “It is an immense honor, and I am really excited for the opportunity to work with other scholar practitioners who are doing work in this area and who value the importance of the truth, racial healing and transformation framework.”

The cohort will gain tools and resources during the 18-month program to keep public officials and private sector leaders more accountable for real progress for racial and health equity. The kanaka ʻōiwi, or Native Hawaiian, scholar is among a group of talented community leaders chosen for their leadership experiences in the fields of policy, law, grassroots organizations, education and health.


Lipe was one of 200 emerging leaders from the Asia-Pacific region selected in 2019 for the Obama Foundation Leaders: Asia-Pacific Program. She also leads the UH-Mānoa Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Center, one of 50 campuses throughout the United States selected to develop visionary action plans to prepare the next generation of leaders to advance justice and build equitable communities.

The Culture of Health Leaders Institute for Racial Healing program will meet online monthly and engage in learning opportunities with experts and individualized coaching using the truth, racial healing and transformation framework. The cohort will focus work in one of five areas: narrative change, racial healing and relationship building, separation, law and economy.

“We are thrilled for our first cohort and are eager to see the transformational changes required for our communities to heal and thrive and, ultimately, end the absurd belief in a hierarchy of human value,” Gail Christopher, executive director at National Collaborative for Health Equity, said in the press release. “The selected practitioners represent some of the brightest minds advancing racial and health equity in our communities today, and it is our hope that the program will only amplify their work further.”



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