Aloha mai kakou,

Mahalo to the Board of Directors for affording me the opportunity to lead the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, an organization that has been at the forefront in advocating greater Native Hawaiian self-determination and self-governance in all areas of Hawaiian life, and has been committed to bringing organizations and people together each year to share their concerns, successes and vision for our shared Hawaiian future.

Mahalo a nui to the founding members, Ray Soon, Hardy Spoehr, Mahealani Wendt, Lulani Arquette, Melody MacKenzie and Robin Danner, who worked tirelessly to birth the organization. Mahalo Jobie Masagatani, Brandi Crabbe, Jade Danner Jones and the early volunteers who invested heavily in the growth of the organization. Mahalo to Michelle Kauhane, and every present and former staffer, member and supporter for breathing life into CNHA these past 17 years. CNHA has pioneered initiatives that have moved Native Hawaiians forward because of the love, sweat and dedication of all of you.

From a young age, I was taught to look at the challenges ahead and turn them into opportunities for success. I have found wisdom in diverse corners of our community. I have learned to listen, think critically and trust my na’au. In the life of any organization or leader, mistakes are made in the pursuit of success. I endeavor to learn from the mistakes, build on the successes, and lead CNHA in service of our lāhui.

I believe that together we are stronger, and can find all we need from within our community. The foundation of every good partnership or coalition is a respect for each member’s distinct views and a commitment to finding common ground. I look forward to strengthening our relationships with member organizations, community partners and stakeholders, and working together to address our community’s needs.

I hope you’ll join me at this year’s Annual Convention to celebrate who we are as a lahui, to understand the immediate challenges ahead, and to build a vision for a future for ourselves worthy of our energy, our love and our aloha. CNHA will continue our work to grow and empower the next generation of leaders, and bring useful solutions like access to capital, community development assistance, and strategic policy advocacy to work for our lahui. We look forward to hearing your views, and setting a place at the table to accomplish great things together.

Me ke aloha,

Joe Kūhiō Lewis