The Maui County Committee on the Status of Women closed Women’s History Month by presenting its biannual “Women of Excellence” awards on Tuesday, March 29 at the University of Hawaii, Maui College. The winners were honored as “Maui’s Mana Wahine”.
It is a celebration, a storytelling, a deep listening and a reverence. Activating our strengths – together – we are women, here to support and uplift each other,” committee chair Kate Griffiths said in her opening remarks.
Maui County First Lady Joycelyn Victorino congratulated the honorees saying, “I couldn’t be more proud of you, Maui Mana Wahine, for your dedication and commitment to family, healing, community and peace. career. Women are the backbone of our families and community and our roles know no boundaries. On behalf of everyone in Maui County, mahalo for your contributions and your legacy.
The 2022 Women of Excellence, “Maui’s Mana Wahine” winners are:
Young woman of promise (14-21 years old):
- Sunset at Makena Kawaialoha Guzman, student, Kamehameha Schools, Maui Campus; altar server, usher and gesture dancer at St. Theresa’s Church; teaching assistant for religious formation courses and member of the youth ministry. At the start of the pandemic, she led efforts to sew face masks for healthcare workers. Volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Maui and planting native plants in Kipuka Olowalu. Member of the National Honor Society, Health Occupation Students of America, Lifeteen, Hawaiian Ensemble and Hālau Kekuaokalā’au’ala’iliahi. Nominated by Chanel Guzman.
Women of Excellence (22 to 59 years old):
- Valerie Janikowski, RN, BSN, Founder and Program Director, Lana’i Kina’ole; administrator, grant writer, long term health care advocate, compassionate home health care provider. Valerie is at the forefront of patient advocacy through Lana’i Kina’ole, the island’s only licensed home health care agency. Nominated by Board Member Gabe Johnson.
- Adrianne Heely, Judge, Second Circuit District Court, Hawaii State Judiciary. Member of the Hawaii State Supreme Court Review Panel, Former Vice President of the Maui County Bar Association, Director of the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar Association of Hawaii and President of the Government Lawyers Section of the State Bar Association of Hawaii. She is an inspiration to young women who aspire to careers that help women and children as well as young Native Hawaiian women. Nominated by Leo Caires.
- Shandell Lehua Kaopio, Senior Program Advisor, GEAR UP, University of Hawaii, Maui College. Volunteer for the Boys and Girls Club of Hawaiʻi, Foster Youth Coalition and Kuaahea Foundation, former volunteer service of the KIDS HURT TOO Maui Economic Opportunity Youth Program. Currently enrolled in ASU’s Masters of Indigenous Education program. As a tutor, she applies Hawaiian culture, history, and values to her teaching in an effort to end discrimination against single mothers. Nominated by Leihua Bissen.
Unsung Hero (60+):
- Gina GillstromSenior Certified Behavioral Technician, Maui Learning Academy. Her commitment to people with special needs makes her an “unsung hero”. She often puts aside her personal needs to help others find solutions to their problems. Nominated by Melody Uluave.
- Fr Denise La Costa, Owner of Real Estate Brokerage, La Costa Realty Hawai’i, LLC; Vice Chairman of the Maui Planning Commission, Vice Chairman of the West Maui Community Task Force, Board Member of the Maui Chamber Orchestra, Lady of Honor of the Orthodox Order of St. Jean Hospittallers Hawaiʻi Priory, Church Eucharist and Reader Maria Lanakila, PRPAC Presidents Circle Member, Maui County Commissioner for Maui Business Roundtable Chairman, Hawaii Real Estate Commission Member. She is known for her selfless work, volunteerism and community service. Nominated by Gayle Shufledt.
- Luz Medina,MARYLAND., Physician, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Luz Patricia Medina, MD, Inc.; Vice President of the Maui County Medical Society, member of the Hawaiʻi Medical Association Council and the Hawaiʻi Medical Association Committee for CME. Anne’s Parish Prayer Leader, Divine Mercy Volunteer and Choir Member, Department of Health Department of Health Maui District Health Unit Volunteer. She advocates for undocumented women and those struggling with domestic violence and mental illness. Nominated by Antonio Ramil.
Honorary Historic Award (Posthumous):
- Linda Higgins, Seabury Hall Librarian Emeritus, University of Hawaii Library Advisory Board Member, Carden Academy Board Member, and Master Gardener of Maui College, University of Hawaii. She was a lifelong learner, curious, patient, kind and happy, helping students feel safe and valued. His constant support and guidance produced many successes and a legacy of warmth, compassion and dedication to service. Nominated by Jessica Crouse
- Phyllis McOmber, Creator of continuing education and college extension programs on Lāna’i and Maui Community College/University of Hawaiʻi Maui College; Women Helping Women advocate for Lāna’i, Lāna’i Women’s Center and board member of Lanaians for Sensible Growth. Co-founder of E Mālama I Na Keiki O Lāna’i School, Organ Player of Lāna’i Baptist Church, Member of Maui County Urban Design Review Board, Member of the Board of administration of the Lāna’i Art Program, advisor to the Maui Hotel and Lodging Association. She was driven by her love for her community and her desire to improve the lives of all and a fiercely passionate fighter whose legacy will continue after many years of service to the Lāna’i community. Nominated by Board Member Gabe Johnson.
- Sarai Stricklin, Philanthropic Artist and teacher; She shared her artistic knowledge and her time with the youth of Hāna, Keʻanae and Molokaʻi by teaching them the arts of batik. She often donated her hand-painted batik scarves and hand-painted Hawaiian-themed clothing to events hosted by the Maui Chamber of Commerce and the Office of Economic Development’s “Made on Maui Festival.” of Maui County. She gave her heart to the community and her spirit lives on as an example of humility, generosity and love for her community. Nominated by Linda Puppolo.
- Terry Jones, Executive Assistant to the Maui County Police Chief: Employee of the Maui Police Department for over three decades and a supporter of many Maui nonprofit organizations. Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run organizer benefiting Special Olympics, active volunteer for Women Helping Women, Roselani Place, Relay for Life, Maui Police Relief Association and homeless shelters. She has served her community by supporting healing, health and wellness efforts by placing others above herself. She is remembered for her compassion, volunteerism, spirit and service. Nominated by Melissa Magonigle.
- Stephanie Badillo, Student, Lāna’i Secondary and Primary School
- Chloe Shim, Student, King Kekaulike High School
- Madison Strand, Student, King Kekaulike High School
- Deborah Ho’ohuli, Principal, Maui Learning Academy
- Bobbie-Jo Moniz-Tadeo, Clinical Director/Early Childhood Specialist, Imua Family Services
- Cara Flores, Founder, Hale Hawaii
- Edith Nu’u Quintero, Sergeant, Maui Police Department, Domestic Violence Unit
- Kathryn Kiffmann, Founder/Co-Owner, Kiffmann’s Maui Elite Taekwondo
- Barbara Vaiaoga, Senior Services Aid II, Department of Housing and Human Affairs
The Women’s Committee thanks the following companies and individuals for their kōkua and support: Sherri Reeve Gallery & Gifts, Pohaku Kaho’ohanohano for leis, Emura’s Jewelry, B. Miyo-Onaga Designs, Amy Hānaiali’i Collections & CDs , Chloe’s Cupcakes, University of Hawaii Maui Campus – Media Services and Maui County – Mayor’s Office.
The Maui County Committee on the Status of Women is a mayor-appointed seven-member volunteer group that advocates for social justice, educates women about their rights, educates women to vote, engages in political processes , collects information on women’s issues, promotes women’s equality, and serves as a resource for women through programming, public education, and civic participation.
Committee members include Chair Kate Griffiths, Vice Chair Nalana Kaninau, Ki’I Kaho’oho’ohano, Jessica Crosue, Sheron Lehuanani Bissen, Pili Naho’oikaika and Leonora Espaniola.