South Pacific Islander Organization: 501c3 dedicated to Pacific Islander diversity and inclusion


South Pacific Islander Organization, a grassroots nonprofit led by Pacific Islanders and allies, is honored to announce it is a public charity with tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. 

“Our vision is a thriving Pacific Islander community, rooted in culture,” remarked co-founder and board president Marushka Raimere Hirshon. “We hope to see more Pacific Islander representation across academic and professional fields, as well as authentic representations of Pacific Islanders in the media. The 501(c)(3) status will enable us to strengthen and grow these diversity and inclusion initiatives. We can now fully live by our mission: To support and promote Pacific Islander voices, cultures and communities through leadership development, cultural awareness and community partnerships.”


Since its incorporation in late December 2018, South Pacific Islander Organization's founding team - Marushka Raimere Hirshon, MichaeLynn Kanichy, Eldred D. Lesansee and Cady Kealohi Ching - conducted community-building, program development and media efforts to lay the groundwork for their diversity and inclusion programs.

In April, the nonprofit launched a spotlight series highlighting Pacific Islanders across academic and professional fields, in the hopes of breaking stereotypes and inspiring fellow community members. The nonprofit recently recruited an international Advisory Council and welcomed four community members to their Board of Directors: Pou Dimitrijevich, K.L. Parker, John Peapealalo and Christine Schilling. 


In September 2019, SPIO will launch its inaugural Pacific Islander diversity and inclusion programs: 

  • E-mentorship pilot program: A yearlong e-mentorship program designed by Pacific Islanders to prepare high school seniors for higher education success.

In the future, the organization looks forward to collaborating with community partners on STEM programs for Pacific Islanders, storytelling podcasts and cultural exhibits.

Get Involved

  • Advise us: Join our Advisory Council as a remote advisor.

  • Volunteer: Join our growing international volunteer community.

  • Donate: Contribute to Pacific Islander diversity and inclusion programs.

  • Become an SPIO champion: Be a leader in Pacific Islander diversity and inclusion.

  • Give us feedback: Share your thoughts with our team. We believe in constantly learning and improving the way we work for the benefit of our greater community.

Marushka HirshonComment