South Pacific Islander Organization
 
 

Board of Directors

 
 
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Our board members share a deep commitment towards empowering indigenous communities, ensuring transparent practices and creating a collaborative, highly productive team environment.

We are looking for community members to join our Advisory Council.


Cady Kealohi Ching | Board Secretary

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Cady was born and raised on the island of Oahu in a multicultural home. She attended Stanford University and attained a bachelor’s degree in Human Biology with an Area of Concentration in the Intersection of Ethnicity, Education and Health and a minor in Native American Studies. Her commitment to working with educational programs in diverse communities across the country has spanned a decade. Currently, Cady is an Assistant Principal at Summit Preparatory Charter High School, and has previously worked as a teacher-coach, biology and AP Environmental Science teacher and a mentor for five years. In addition to her work in public education, she has worked with a literacy project in Hawaii; an academic and cultural summer program on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation in Idaho; and a residential program teaching science to Native American high school students in South Dakota.


Pou Dimitrijevich | Board Member

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Pou was born in Pago Pago, American Samoa and raised in Southern California. Growing up she moved around a lot, attending half a dozen districts by the seventh grade. However, despite the constant upheaval, she always managed to find her Pacific Island community, giving her a sense of continuity, and belonging. Pou’s work as an artist, and as a designer is driven by her passion for her P.I. community and a need for more representation of People of Color in the Tech and Design space. She is currently a Senior Product Designer at Redfin, and is the SF Ambassador for their API org. She is also a committee member and mentor with Inneract Project, and in her free time enjoys reading with her book club: Elevate Womens’ Voices. She holds a bachelor's degree in Fine Art from the University of California Santa Cruz.


Marushka Raimere Hirshon | Board President

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Born in Tahiti and raised in Chicago, Marushka is focused on empowering indigenous communities through educational initiatives. She co-founded KULTURA, an online magazine featuring young, change-making individuals in different industries. She previously worked at Stanford’s Office of Student Affairs as a Student Services Specialist and Office of Undergraduate Admission as an Admission Counselor for Diversity Outreach. She graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. in Science, Technology & Society focused in Environment & Sustainability. In her spare time, she serves on the Stanford Asian Pacific American Alumni Club board and the Stanford Asian American Activities Center (A3C) advisory board.


MichaeLynn Kanichy | Board Vice-President

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Born and raised on the Makah Reservation and Pohnpeian of the Federated States of Micronesia, MichaeLynn believes in the importance of accepting and supporting young indigenous people in exploring their paths to become independent and successful contributors to their communities. After graduating from Stanford University with her B.A in Science, Technology and Society with a focus in Life Sciences and Biotechnology, MichaeLynn immediately returned home to Neah Bay, WA, eventually becoming the Project Manager for a SAMHSA Native Connections Grant, which focused on preventing suicide and substance use for indigenous youth. After spending 3 years working with her tribe to decolonize mental health approaches for Makah youth, she returned to school and is currently pursuing her M.A in Education for School Counseling at Seattle University.


Eldred D. Lesansee | Board Treasurer

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Born and raised in New Mexico’s Pueblo tribes of Jemez and Zuni, Eldred is passionate about protecting and revitalizing Indigenous cultures, languages, and identities. Based in Washington, D.C., he currently serves as a Cultural Sovereignty Fellow at the Association on American Indian Affairs, leading the organization’s Native American and Native Hawaiian cultural heritage protection and repatriation initiatives. Eldred holds a B.A. in International Relations from Stanford University, and he earned a M.A. in International Development from the Sciences Po Paris School of International Affairs as a Fulbright Scholar.


K.L. Parker | Board Member

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K.L. is Kanaka Maoli, Nikkei, and Polish, born and raised in Hawai’i, and is a proud parent to two amazing kids. College was not an option growing up, but by mid-thirties, K.L. decided to follow a seemingly impossible dream and attend UC Berkeley. Having taken a long route to Western ideas of success, they're now a passionate champion of positive & holistic Pacific Islander representation. K.L. has worked as a Pacific Islander (PI) Liaison within UC Berkeley's AAPI Student Development center to establish the first UCB Critical PI Library Guide, establish the first PI Program Manager staff position now at Berkeley, and is now currently appointed to the AAPI standing committee advising UC Berkeley's Chancellor's Cabinet. K.L. also collaborates with various PI organizations, co-founded & co-manages Oceania Connects -- a multi-media organization for Pacific Islanders -- and works within philanthropy at UC Berkeley to further understand how to leverage their privilege & positionality to be of greater service to Pacific Islander communities worldwide.


John Peapealalo | Board Member

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Ever since he was young, John had a love and appreciation for education. Born and raised in Samoa, John has a unique perspective on the differences and importance of the education of his culture and academics. After moving to the United States, he attended Utah State University were he earned a BS in Business Information and an MBA. He is the first individual in his family to achieve a degree. For a period of 8 years, he worked as a Finance and Audit committee chairman for a nonprofit board at OWCAP (Ogden Weber Community Action Partnership - Federal funded organization). This nonprofit helped minority inner city children in Ogden Utah (second largest city in Utah), improved educational systems and created a better mentality among minority families. He has always worked in finance and currently works as an assistant controller for Coca Cola USA for their supply chain operation (western US). By furthering his education, he has set an example and a new standard for underserved minorities who want to better their futures, particularly for Pacific Islander children. John appreciates the opportunity to be a part of South Pacific Islander Organization’s board. He hopes to utilize his experience and passion to strategize, improve educational behaviors and enrich the lives of Pacific Islanders today and for future generations.


Christine Schilling | Board Member

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Born in the Napa Valley to a mother who grew up in French Polynesia, Christine believes in and understands the power of education through economic mobility. Her undergrad studies at UC Santa Cruz focused on Economics and Environmental Studies. Returning home from college she started her career in Finance working for entrepreneurs such as Francis Ford Coppola and Leslie Rudd in the wine industry. Her passion for volunteering started with her work at the Di Rosa preserve, a collection of contemporary art by the visionary Rene Di Rosa preserved by the Napa County Land Trust. She earned her MBA from Golden Gate University in San Francisco and currently has a career in the Private Equity industry. More recently in San Francisco her volunteer work has been at the Conservatory of the Flowers, a butterfly exhibit focusing on 20 species of North American butterflies. In her spare time she enjoys frequenting the San Francisco Bay and traveling back to Tahiti, there she visits with relatives and swims with the humpback whales off the island of Moorea.