PANELISTS

Ka‘iulani Laehā

Chief Executive Officer of the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo

Ka‘iulani Laehā is the chief executive officer of the ‘Aha Pūnana Leo, a Native Hawaiian nonprofit dedicated to revitalizing the Hawaiian language.  Building on the ʻAha Pūnana Leo’s near 40 years of work to reestablish a 100% Hawaiian language medium education, Ka‘iulani is leading the organization to sustain and expand its foundational program, the Pūnana Leo preschools, and create innovative platforms to further normalize ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi in our daily lives.

Michelle Sauve

Executive Director, Intradepartmental Council for Native Americans, Administration for Native Americans, Administration for Children and Families

Michelle Sauve, an enrolled member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, currently serves as the Executive Director of the Intradepartmental Council for Native American Affairs (ICNAA) at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). As the Executive Director for the ICNAA, she provides coordination across the Department, and supports the ANA Commissioner and the Council in cross-program collaborations and coordination on policy impacting Native Americans. Ms. Sauve also serves as the Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist in the Office of the Commissioner at ANA. Her work includes providing policy and program advice across a variety of issues that impact Tribes and Indigenous people. In addition, she helps ANA collaborate across federal agencies via participation on various work groups and interagency initiatives.

Henry J Quick Bear Sr.

Sicangu Spiritual Leader

Lakota Educator of Lakota Language & Culture. Henry is a respected spiritual leader from Spring Creek community on the Rosebud Reservation. He is continuing the work his grandpa Cetan Ohanko started. He is currently working on Lakota language reclamation as a language teacher and consultant for tribal programs.

Kaʻumealani Walk

Kaikamahine, Makuahine & Kupuna Wahine (Daughter, Mother & Grandmother)

With a vision of a generational commitment to the use of ‘Ōlelo Hawaiʻi as the primary language of the home, Kaʻumealani and her husband began their family journey in Hawaiian Immersion Education in 1987. Having reclaimed the inherent right to speak the language of her ancestors while engaging in indigenous ways of knowing at home, Ka‘umealani (and her husband) enrolled their two eldest children in the first Kaiapuni class on Oʻahu, trusting that this innovative public school program would support their family educational goals, even though it was an hour and a half distance to the school site from their home. Subsequently, all of their five children would be enrolled in Kaiapuni Education. Over the past three decades of raising a family, testifying with others at the State Legislature and the Board of Education to advocate and secure funding for Kaiapuni Education, serving as a kumu Kaiapuni for the Department of Education and participating in protests to government decisions that would compromise the integrity of Kaiapuni Education, Ka‘umealani managed to keep herself busy. As a young mother of two, Ka‘umealani graduated from Brigham Young University Hawai‘i with an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. As a mother of five children, Ka‘umealani earned a Master’s degree in Education and now, as a grandmother of twenty-one and a half mo‘opuna (grandchildren), she is currently committed to her cohort and her doctoral studies at the University of Hawai ‘i at Mānoa. Ka‘umealani’s conviction to this work comes from a deep aloha for her ‘ohana (family) on both sides of the veil. She adheres to the intergenerational knowledge and the collective memory of the na‘au: that side of us that never lies to us but will always lead us to truth. Ka‘umealani acknowledges the divine source that is connected to the na‘au and the ancestors who come when we are in need. Ka‘umealani firmly believes that when we follow the wisdom of our ancestors and listen to our na‘au, we are connected and will always move forward in our work. Kaʻumealani currently serves as a kumu in the Kula Kaiapuni Hawaiʻi ʻo Kahuku Academy on the island of Oʻahu.