South Pacific Islander Organization

South Pacific Islander Organization is a tax exempt organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Our EIN is 83-3380220.


South Pacific Islander Organization (SPIO) is a brand new 501(c)3 nonprofit co-founded by 4 indigenous Stanford alumni, Marushka Raimere Hirshon, MichaeLynn Kanichy, Cady Ching, and Eldred Lesansee, in response to the lack of Pacific representation in academia, professional fields, and in the media.

Growth Trajectory

Since incorporating in December 2018 in San Jose, SPIO has already gained international attention. Within a year of incorporation, SPIO doubled its board of directors, recruited an international advisory council, received 501(c)3 tax exemption status, received over 1,000 social media followers, and launched a pilot mentorship program, storytelling article spotlight series, and scholarships. SPIO hopes to become a thought leader in global Pacific community-building by leveraging social media, engaging in global community-building programs and providing economic growth opportunities for Pacific Gen Z and millennials. 


To support and promote Pacific Islander voices, cultures and communities through leadership development, cultural preservation and community partnerships.


A thriving Pacific Islander community rooted in culture.


  • Respect | We respect and honor all voices, cultures and communities.

  • Honesty | We act with honest intentions and integrity.

  • Balance | We promote the importance of emotional, physical and spiritual balance within our community.

  • Family | We ensure our team and community members feel belonged.

Who we serve

While our programs are meant to serve a general public benefit, our goal is to primarily serve Pacific Islanders, people of Polynesian, Micronesian, and Melanesian descent. For more information on who Pacific Islanders are, check out this resource by EPIC. For more information on where the Pacific Islands are located, check out this map. Please note that the designation “Pacific Islander” looks different based on your country of residence and environment. The terms used to designate "Pacific Islanders” range from South Pacific Islanders, Oceania, Pasifika, Pasefika, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. In the US, Pacific Islanders are also often lumped under the larger “Asian Pacific Islander” (API) or “Asian American Pacific Islander” (AAPI) category.

Why we exist

The Pacific Islander community is one of the fastest growing minority groups in the U.S. Islanders represent a small yet diverse group of people, who are often not well represented in higher education, professional industries and in the media. We are a community of students, educators, influencers and entrepreneurs interested in providing growth opportunities for islanders. We aim to ensure the needs of the growing Pacific Islander community are met.

A note on Pacific Islanders

Even though certain islands may share cultural commonalities, each island is marked by a rich and unique background. We recognize the needs of each islander community will differ, and we hope to work in harmony with individuals from each island. 

Meet our Board of Directors