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Our Mission

Equity Through Innovation

‘Apoākea (literally meaning “Infinite Reach”) Native Hawaiian Innovation Institute is a Native Hawaiian and person with autism-led 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded with the purpose of providing strategic and tactical solutions to issues causing and contributing to the negative consequences of disproportionality and disparity as they are suffered by socially disadvantaged and underserved communities that include, but are not limited to, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color, Women / Women of Color, People with Different Abilities/Disabilities, elderly and children.

Our Story

'Apoākea was originally founded in 2012 by a small group of Native Hawaiian college students as a student organization with the purpose of advocating Native Hawaiian rights and environmental conservation, which is so closely tied to the preservation and perpetuation of Native Hawaiian culture and identity.

In 2019, 'Apoākea founders decided to elevate their community-serving grassroots organization to a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in order to build much greater capacity for the work that they were doing.

Meet Our Team

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Makalani Kūpau

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Founder & Executive Director

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Māhealani T.M.K. Traub

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Founder & Associate Director


Our Board of Directors


Kelea K. Levy


Kelea is a Native Hawaiian mother, small business owner, and the Executive Director of the Kanaka Economic Development Alliance, currently residing in Kāʻneohe, Oʻahu.  Her background is in banking operations management.  Kelea holds a BA from UC Berkeley in the field of Development with a focus in Economics and the Pacific Region, a Project Management Certificate from Cornell University, and a Certificate of Professional Development from the University of Hawaiʻi, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources for her completion of the GoFarm Hawaii AgPro program.   

Fun Fact: 

Organization and Attention to Detail are Keleaʻs SUPERPOWERS!

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Hanale Bishop

Hanale is a Native Hawaiian father, musician, entrepreneur, and mahi'ai kalo (taro farmer and cultural practitioner). Hanale is the founder and owner of renown Waiāhole farm and food production company, Homestead Poi, where he's played a critical role in significantly increasing access to native food sources.    

Fun Fact: Hanale is a two time Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards finalist, first for his album Cobblestone in 2019 and again for his album Fireworks in 2022. 

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Dr. Katie Kamelamela

Katie is a Native Hawaiian scientist, an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, and researcher in the Global Discovery and Conservation Science Center who studies ethnoecology, ecological restoration, indigenous conceptions of wealth, and indigenous economies. Her research focuses on historical and contemporary Native Hawaiian Forest plant gathering practices and continues to expand policy that includes community input within forest restoration management.


Heather Kruse


Heather is a Native Hawaiian mother and Registered Behavior Technician with years of experience in healthcare. She is passionate about special education and related services and is currently working toward a BCBA and a Masters in Special Education.

Fun Fact: Heather competed in the American Poolplayers Association league tournament in Las Vegas.


Keani Rawlins-Fernandez

Keani is a Native Hawaiian mother, the current vice chair of the Maui County Council and chair of its Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee serving in the Molokai seat.

Fun Fact: Keani (and husband) took first place among couples in the 2022 Molokai Holokai paddling race.

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