Board of Directors
Akiemi Glenn is a Honolulu-based scholar and cultureworker. She holds an MA and PhD in linguistics from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and a BA in linguistics from New York University. With Black and Coharie genealogical ties to the forest and coastal areas of North Carolina and Virginia, her research considers the interplay of space, geography, community, and language. Akiemi's primary interests are in how Indigenous peoples, refugees, captives, migrants, and other diasporic peoples in the Pacific and the Americas use language to construct, navigate, and politicize their identities. For the past seventeen years Akiemi has worked with American Indian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific immigrant, culture-based, and environmental education programs as a curator, program developer, and program evaluator. As a systems-oriented qualitative researcher, she commits her interests in systems, semiotics, and culture to research methods and curatorial practices that explore the rich vectors of change and resilience in community culturework. Akiemi is the founder and executive director of the Pōpolo Project, a Honolulu nonprofit organization that explores Blackness in Hawai‘i and the larger Pacific. Under Akiemi’s leadership and curatorial direction, the Pōpolo Project challenges how we understand the convergence of African and Pacific diasporas in Hawai‘i by offering cultural and educational programming that specifically reframes histories of colonialism and resistance, connections to land, cultural and artistic practice, and the visibility of Black people in the Pacific region.
Amber is an independent documentary producer, genealogist, and a yonsei (4th generation Japanese) from Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi. For 6 years, she served as Digital Engagement Manager and Program Manager for Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC) - a member of the National Minority Consortia - supporting filmmakers with the distribution of films for national broadcast. She received her BA in Cultural Anthropology/Japanese from Western Washington University and MA in Visual Anthropology from Goldsmiths, University of London. She is currently enrolled in the Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Her first film, FINDING DOHI (2020), screened at numerous festivals including Hawaii International Film Festival, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, and Seattle Asian Film Festival.
President and Director
Anne Weber is passionate about community-- she is an Impact Hub maker, educator, program manager, state teacher fellow, columnist, and Teach For America 2013 alumnus. She currently leads programs to help residents and businesses save precious water and energy resources as a program manager at Honeywell, a Fortune 100 company. As a co-founder at Impact Hub HNL, she managed community programs, events, marketing, communications, and operations. She is an educator with a passion for building sustainable communities and making social impact and she's committed to the belief that everyone has a role to play in this work. She currently serves on the boards of Kanu Hawaii and Hawai'i Women in Filmmaking, and previously on the Hawaii Public Radio Generation Listen Leadership Board, and the national Native Advisory Council for Teach for America, lobbying in D.C. on behalf of indigenous students. In her free time, she actively volunteers with local non-profits including YWCA, Junior League Honolulu, Sierra Club, and the AUW Society for Young Leaders.
P. Danyale Thomas
Danyale integrates connection, collaboration, and celebration to encourage women through life’s transitions. This integration was the driving force behind her 25-year career in the beauty industry and helped form her commitment to finding ways to meaningfully serve her community. From 2018 -2019, Danyale was the enthusiastic leader of the Honolulu WomanSpeak circle. WomanSpeak focuses on educating, supporting and uplifting its members, resulting in a woman developing her personal message, and using her voice to change the world. Danyale is also certified as a Rapid Transformation Therapy™ Practitioner. RTT offers unparalleled results by combining the most beneficial principles of Hypnotherapy, NLP, Psychotherapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Most recently, Danyale has partnered her entrepreneurial background, and her passion and commitment to uplifting women with the strength and resources of New York Life Insurance company as a Financial Services Professional.
Raised in Kahaluʻu on Oʻahu, Native Hawaiian filmmaker Erin Lau fell in love with filmmaking in middle school, while videotaping concerts and public access TV commercials for her father's Hawaiian music non-profit. The University of Hawaiʻi Academy for Creative Media alum started her career working as a videographer and editor for Native Hawaiian production company, ʻŌiwi TV. She later moved to Los Angeles after receiving a full-ride merit scholarship from Chapman University, where she completed her MFA in Directing. During her education, she was selected as a Sundance Native Lab fellow for her film ""The Moon and The Night,"" which went on to screen in numerous competitions and international film festivals, as well as on broadcast networks including PBS and KHON. After the film was shortlisted for the 2018 student BAFTAs, Erin signed with the United Talent Agency (UTA) and LINK Entertainment. Since graduating, Erin has had the honor of continuing her growth through programs including: Powderkeg’s Break The Room, Sundance’s Indigenous Intensive presented by Warner Media, and Unlock Her Potential. Most recently, she was shortlisted for the 2020 HBOAccess Directing program. By day, Erin works as a Senior Producer-Director for digital media company, Jubilee Media, creating content for their 6+ million subscribers, as well as developing empathy-forward videos for brands including Google, Netflix, Always, and SK-II. By night, she is developing projects inspired by her family and heritage, aiming to create work that elevates Pacific Islander communities.
MA Strategic Communication with a concentration in Media for Social Change. Hilary is an educator, photographer, filmmaker, artist, activist and community organizer. She has organized, facilitated and documented various projects throughout the West Coast, Hawai‘i and internationally from Guatemala to Palestine with a focus on humanizing complex global issues including immigrant, indigenous, land and water rights. She uses platforms as diverse as writing, photography, mural design, videography, web and graphic design. She is fluent in Spanish and is currently based in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. She is a Co-Founder and Producer with Sovereign Lens LLC, currently producing a feature length documentary film, The Kahea. She is also an Instructor and Co-Coordinator with the Community Health Worker Certificate Program at Kapiʻolani Community College.
Raised in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, Imani received a BA in Global Studies from the New School University and completed a Master's degree in Indigenous Journalism at the Sámi University of Applied Sciences in Guovdageaidnu, Norway. With genealogical ties to what is now known as Louisiana, she wrote her master's thesis on the relationship between storytelling and resistance for Black & Native peoples protecting sacred lands in Louisiana. As a freelance writer and emerging documentary producer, Imani is passionate about collecting stories that illustrate the collective experiences of colonized peoples, by not only highlighting injustice, trauma and pain but also our inherent resilience, strength and beauty. Imani currently works at Hoʻomaluhia, the Hawaiʻi-pacific branch of the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma and also serves on the board of directors of The Pōpolo Project. Imani is honored and excited to now serve on the board of Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking!
Joe Wilson is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker dedicated to telling stories that emanate from the voices of those on the outside. His feature and short films combine live action with animation to explore pressing social issues through innovative storytelling. Wilson’s work has screened and won awards at festivals around the world including Berlin, Toronto and Tribeca, been viewed by millions of viewers on PBS, ARTE and other international broadcasts, and has been supported by Sundance, Ford and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Wilson's 2010 film Out in the Silence focused on the challenges of LGBT people in rural and small town America and became the centerpiece of a multi-year national campaign to open dialogue and build bridges across socio-political divides. Shortly after, he and partner Dean Hamer began their now decade-long collaboration with Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, first documenting her story in the PBS Independent Lens Audience Award-winner Kumu Hina, then with Hina joining as producer on a series of films about gender diversity in the Pacific, including Leitis in Waiting, Lady Eva, and The Rogers. Kapaemahu, which premiered at Tribeca and won the top prize at three Oscar-qualifying festivals, is Wilson’s fifth film in collaboration with Hina. Prior to filmmaking, he served as Director of Human Rights at the Public Welfare Foundation and Producer of Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now.
Karima Daoudi is an arts and cultural producer with a focus on community curation and popular education. In her work she strives to center social justice, racial equity, and global citizenship in innovative and collaborative ways. Since 2019, she has served as Public Programs & Special Events Coordinator at the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design in Honolulu, Hawaii where she produces residencies and programs featuring multidisciplinary artists from Hawaii and around the world. In her hometown of Chicago she worked at the Old Town School of Folk Music for seven years where she produced community events, workshops and educational initiatives. She has also helped produce festivals such as Chicago SummerDance, Chicago World Music Festival and the Evanston World Arts & Music Festival. Karima is a Fulbright scholar, holds an M.Ed. from National Louis University and a BA in Anthropology from Knox College, with minors in French and Black Studies. She’s also a visual artist, singer and percussionist.
Leah Warshawski produces and directs features, television, commercials, corporate, nonprofit and branded entertainment around the world. Leah’s career in film began in Hawaii working in the Marine Department for shows like LOST and HAWAII. Her first feature film, FINDING HILLYWOOD (2013) won 6 awards and screened at 65 festivals around the world. Leah’s most recent feature documentary BIG SONIA (2017), profiles her 93-year old grandmother (and Holocaust survivor) who still drives herself to work everyday. BIG SONIA won 22 awards at more than 75 film festivals and was eligible for an Academy Award. Recent clients include: The Obama Foundation, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Maui Nui Marine Resource Council, Microsoft, Starbucks, and Discovery. In 2017, Leah gave a TEDx talk entitled "How Do You Cope With the Trauma You Didn't Experience?" She also advises filmmakers on social impact, outreach, marketing, festival strategy and hybrid distribution plans. In addition, Leah co-founded rwandafilm.org in 2012, a LinkedIn for Rwandan filmmakers supported by Bpeace and The Academy of Motion Pictures. Leah holds an Executive for Social Impact Strategy certificate from UPenn and is a certified Covid Compliance Officer. Learn more at www.inflatablefilm.com.
Priscilla Fuentes Smith
Priscilla Fuentes Smith, MSW, LCSW was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, to an indigenous Mexican mother and indigenous Costa Rican father. She grew up acting in Hollywood and has been a member of the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA for over 40 years. Mrs. Smith has lived in Hawaii for over 25 years where she received her Masterʻs in Social Work from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Priscilla is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 22 years in the mental health profession. She is experienced in working with indigenous populations, immigrants, LGBTQIA, domestic violence survivors, foster children, and military families. Currently, she owns Luna Counseling Services and is co-owner of Pua Mohala Health & Advocacy services, while also working full time supervising Military Family Life Counselors. Priscilla is not only committed to celebrating her own culture but also that of her husband, who is Native Hawaiian. Her children are fluent Hawaiian speakers and the ohana stays engaged in cultural practices that honor their elders on both sides of the family. The Smith family is known among friends as throwing the best Dia de Muertos fiesta every year which always includes Priscillaʻs famous ceviche which is her granmotherʻs recipe.
A seasoned documentary producer, writer and editor, and a passionate storyteller, Shirley Thompson is best known for the documentaries she has edited and/or produced, including Savvy (2020), Finding Kukan (2016), Kū Kanaka: Stand Tall (2016), Winning Girl (2014), Pidgin: the Voice of Hawai‘i (2008), Special Circumstances (2006), Surfing for Life (2000) & It’s Elementary (1996). Many of the films she has worked on have received major funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting National Multicultural Alliance. These films have garnered major awards, have screened at film festivals around the world and have broadcast nationally on public television. She co-produces Reel Wāhine of Hawai‘i, a series of short films portraying top women filmmakers. She directed three of the 12 films, featuring producer Heather Giugni, camerawoman Victoria Keith and producer Myrna Kamae. The series is produced in collaboration with Hawai‘i Women in Filmmaking. A New Orleans native who lived and worked in San Francisco and Dallas, she is based in Honolulu, Hawai‘i since 2010. Shirley is a member/owner of the New Day Films collective since 1993. As a Latina and a daughter of immigrants, she is committed to filmmaking that builds bridges across cultures and communities.
Tanya Smith-Johnson is a mother of 6, homeschooler, midwife and advocate for the midwifery model of care, reproductive justice, birth equity and the improvement of birth outcomes for Black, Native and Indigenous people.Tanya is the Policy Director at Healthy Mothers Health Babies Coalition of Hawaii. She is also adjunct faculty at Midwives College of Utah and core faculty at the Florida School of Traditional Midwifery. She is also a doula, childbirth educator and tobacco cessation specialist. Tanya is a veteran and served in the United States Naval Hospital Corps and spouse to an active duty Civil Engineer Corp Officer. She is a fierce leader, strategist and creative thinker. She brings new life and energy to any project or organization she is a part of. She is a critical thinker, Policy director, program developer and maternal health specialist. She brings expertise in grassroots strategizing and outreach, consumer education and legislative advocacy in several states. Tanya began her homeschooling journey out of necessity and created her own curriculum and rhythm when there were few resources or guidance and no visible homeschoolers of color, thus making her passionate about helping guide others. Tanya holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Master’s of Science in Medical Science from Hampton University. She received her didactic midwifery education from the Midwives College of Utah. Tanya resides in Hawaii with her husband of 20 years and 6 children.
Former Board Directors
Liberty Peralta is Founder and Owner of Popoki + Tea, a cat cafe in the heart of Kaimuki. As a graduate of Wai‘anae High School and its nationally renowned student multimedia program, Peralta had an early start in modern storytelling, and is enthusiastic about community efforts to instill potentially life-changing storytelling skills for all, especially for our children. She is also on the board of Searider Productions Foundation, which awards college scholarships to high school graduates of Wai‘anae’s media program. Peralta earned her bachelor’s degree in advertising from Hawai‘i Pacific University, where she attended on a full-tuition academic scholarship. She is also a graduate of Launch My Business, an accelerated entrepreneurial program sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Patsy T. Mink Center for Business and Leadership at YWCA O‘ahu.
Alexandra (Sandy) Harjo-Livingston, PhD
Dr Harjo-Livingston loves to learn and collaborate. He has spent his life traveling the world, earning degrees, writing, and making films. Before moving to Hawaiʻi, Sandy was a Political Theory and History Professor and award-winning Lecturer who researched and wrote about the intersectionality of religion and politics. With his interdisciplinary background [psychology, philosophy, theology, and history], he developed a theoretical model to understand the deeply symbiotic relationship between religious and political institutions and leadership. After moving to Honolulu, Sandy began to be involved with Olelo Community Media and became an award-winning narrative filmmaker. Over the last few years, Dr Harjo-Livingston has worked with local filmmakers, writers, and actors to get their stories made and distributed. He founded Sa’Ke Film Group, LLC as well as two non-profits, Sa’Ke Film Collective and Sa’Ke Film School, in order to provide unfettered access to filmmaking and mentorship for local filmmakers.
President and Director
Taylour Chang, Curator, Film and Performance, oversees the Honolulu Museum of Art’s film and performance department and has overseen the Doris Duke Theatre since 2013. The Doris Duke Theatre is Honolulu’s singular mission-driven, community-based non-profit art house theatre. Since 2017, she's been active in A4A (Alliance for Action), a collective of art house exhibitors and distributors addressing equity issues in the art house community and independent film industry. She is a filmmaker and received her B.A. from Yale University, majoring in both Film Studies and Theatre Studies with concentrations on World Cinema and Sound Design.
Katherine Yvonne Mary Burke is a junior epidemiologist (junior researcher) in the Thompson School of Social Work & Public Health at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Neuroscience & Behavior at Mount Holyoke College, and a Master of Public Health in Social & Behavioral Health Sciences from the Office of Public Health Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Kat, as she prefers to be called, is a transplant from Connecticut, ancestrally from Greece, France, Ireland and Switzerland. She enjoys learning from plants.
Christina Torres is a writer and 8th grade English teacher at Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. Originally from Southern California, Christina attended the University of Southern California, where she received her BAs in Theatre and English. After joining the Teach For America program in Los Angeles, Christina received her MA in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University. Once in Hawai‘i, Christina has been working in education both in the nonprofit world and the classroom. When she's not teaching, Christina is a writer whose work has appeared in Honolulu Civil Beat, Education Week, and Teaching Tolerance. Christina has also acted on stage at Mānoa Valley Theater, Kumu Kahua Theater, and Hawai‘i Shakespeare Festival. She is committed to sharing diverse voices and encouraging young people to own their power and share their voices.
Loryn Guiffré-Fernandez, MBA, is a results-driven marketing and communications executive with an excellent track record in developing & executing marketing and public relations strategies, exceptional team building and project management ability, and extensive knowledge of cutting-edge social media and digital marketing trends. She was named Hawaii’s 3rd top social media influencer in 2016 at the Digital Media Summit, has been featured in Hawaii Business Magazine as one of Hawaii's top executives (Black Book Issue, 2014), and an expert on utilizing LinkedIn for networking (February, 2015). While working as Director of Marketing and Communications at Maryknoll School, she celebrated winning a Pele Advertising award for an integrated marketing campaign, in partnership with Mix Plate Media. Most recently, she served as the Director of Development at Hawaii Theatre and currently works as a marketing consultant with Mint Communications, a marketing consultancy she established 9 years ago.
Anna Page is the Director of Programming at the Hawaii International Film Festival. Page joined the HIFF team in 2010 and after working in grants and development, education, and programming was promoted to Director of Programming in 2016. Page holds a Master’s Degree in Film Studies from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, and has also worked with the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival as Programming Coordinator. She is primarily interested in Asian cinema and wrote her Master’s Thesis on contemporary Japanese film. Anna also holds a BA in Visual Media Communication from American University in Washington DC.
President and Director
Leanne Ferrer is the Executive Director for Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC). Leanne Ferrer joined PIC as Program Manager, was promoted to Program Director, and recently Executive Director. She produced PIC’s first series on national public television, Pacific Heartbeat, which features programs that draw viewers into the heart, mind, and soul of Pacific Island culture. She also worked with producers on PIC’s Media Fund Rolling Call, which funds projects with Pacific Islander content for national broadcast on public television. Leanne has over 20 years of experience in the film and television industry. She is an award-winning filmmaker who previously worked for Disney Films, PBS Hawaii, and 1013 Integrated, Hawai‘i’s longest running full-service production company. Leanne is a previously PIC-funded producer whose film, i scream, floats, and Sundays, aired nationally on PBS.
Treasurer and Director
Cathy Betts is deputy director of the State Department of Human Services since October 2017, and former Executive Director of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women. Cathy has worked in the fields of advocacy for women, family law, violence against women, Title IX, and labor protections for women. She formerly served as the Patsy T. Mink Legislative Fellow in the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye’s Washington D.C. office. She is a former Deputy Attorney General with the State of Hawaii’s Family Law Division. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Hawaii Filipino Lawyers Association and the Board of Directors for Hawaii Women Lawyers. She also serves as the Co Chair of the Hawaii State Bar Association’s Diversity, Equality and the Law (DEAL) Committee, and the Co Chair of the Hawaii Women’s Coalition. Cathy earned her B.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles and her J.D. from the William S. Richardson School of Law.
Secretary and Director
Nancy Aleck has worked in the nonprofit sector almost all her life (a couple attempts in the private sector were not satisfying). She has also had a lifetime commitment to and passion for peace and social, racial and economic justice. Born in California, she has lived in Hawaii since 1974 and received a Bachelors and Masters from UH Mānoa. Recently, Nancy retired after serving as executive director for Hawaii People’s Fund for 13 years. She is a strong advocate for supporting the voices of the silenced and marginalized; storytelling is a critical tool. Creating opportunities for youth to claim their power and deepen their understanding of identity, relationships, community is an important offering from Hawaii Women in Filmmaking, which she strongly supports.
Katia Balassiano began her studies in anthropology, but eventually gravitated to land use planning. She has worked in the public and private sectors as a planner for approximately 15 years. For four of those years, she taught planning at the university level, including courses in grant writing and communication skills for planners. Katia currently work as the Land Use Permits Division Chief for the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting. Being part of Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking is for her a great way to get connected to the local community.
Nicole Edwards Masuda
Nicole is a social justice advocate currently working at the Medical Legal Partnership of Hawai`i, a program of the University of Hawai`i William S. Richardson School of Law, in partnership with Kokua Kalihi Valley. In this role, Nicole works on issues related to fair housing, discrimination, language access, and family law in collaboration with health care providers at KKV. Before joining the small but mighty MLP team, Nicole worked for over 10 years with survivors of domestic violence and their families, both in and out of the courtroom. She believes she began her politicization when, as a child, she was told that little girls were to be seen and not heard. Refusing to be invisible, Nicole started to loudly question all forms of authority, which still lands her into trouble (but it’s always worth it). In all of her work, Nicole calls upon her great-grandmother, Toyo Nitani, who travelled from Japan to Hawai`i as a picture bride in 1924.
Kaiwipunikauikawēkiu Lipe (Punihei)
Kaiwipunikauikawēkiu Lipe is a mother, wife, daughter, granddaughter, sister, hula dancer, and educator. She is a recent PhD graduate in the College of Education. Her research focused on how to transform the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM) into a Hawaiian place of learning. All of her research and practice is motivated by her role as a mother of two young children and is inspired by the work of many women who came before her. Some of her most influential female role models include: (1) Kathryne Leilani Labonte, her maternal grandmother, who was a great businesswoman and hairdresser for over fifty years despite having only an 8th grade formal education. (2) Lilikalā Kame‘eleihiwa, her mother, who was the first in her family to graduate from high school since the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom and has gone on to become a professor and change agent at UHM. (3) Merata Mita, a dear aunty and mentor, who was a pioneering Maori filmmaker.
Cynthia Iannce Spencer
Cindy Iannce-Spencer is the Vice-President of the Community Outreach and Education department at the Domestic Violence Action Center. She has worked in the field of male violence against women and children for the past thirty years, the last fifteen with DVAC. Cindy has served our community in a variety of ways. She spent almost ten years at Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s office providing advocacy and counseling services to victims of misdemeanor and felony crime specializing in child sexual assault and domestic violence case. Ms. Iannce Spencer has facilitated psycho-educational groups for both perpetrators and victims of intimate partner abuse. Cindy has created and initiated an approach for critical incident debriefing with individuals and organizations. At DVAC Cindy has provided mentoring, leadership development and oversight of the various programs at the DVAC agency including supervision of the advocates, attorneys and paralegal teams, civil and criminal outreach programs, volunteer and practicum students programs, community and capacity building and public awareness and education campaigns.
Secretary and Director
Tricia serves as deputy prosecutor for the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney, City and County of Honolulu, alternating between duties as a trial attorney and legislative liaison. While she has always appreciated the cultural and recreational value of film and media, she truly came to recognize their societal impact and power for change when she organized a series of screenings and events around the thought-provoking film, Miss Representation. Since that time, Tricia has strongly supported the growing movement to “put more women behind the cameras,” to empower women and girls to “tell their own stories,” and encourage this unique perspective that has been far-too-uncommon in the American film industry. In her spare time, Tricia enjoys cooking, travelling, and pursuing community and cultural interests through two other non-profit organizations that are also close to her heart: Hawai’i Women Lawyers and Punalu’u Yin Sit Sha Society.
Treasurer and Director
Tai-An Miao is a community-based planner pursuing her PhD in Urban and Regional Planning. She has provided technical assistance to programs serving youth and families in Hawaii for the past six years. She has been studying and practicing planning for nine years. She is currently the Project Coordinator of the Hawaii Civil Citation Initiative (also known as Ho‘opono Mamo), helping to design and facilitate a collaborative planning process for a juvenile arrest diversion program based in Kalihi.