Karen Leinani Awana - Board Member

Karen Awana - Kūlia Academy

Karen Awana is a former Hawaii legislator, a well-respected member of the Native Hawaiian community and has been very active in her local and wider community. She is well-connected with the local Native Hawaiian community. 

She currently works as a program specialist certifying disadvantaged business enterprises at the Office of Civil Rights of State Department of Transportation. 

She was a state legislator between 2006-2014. During her tenure at the State House of Representatives, she served as the Vice Chair for National Conference of State Legislators Native American, Alaskan Indian and Native Hawaiian Caucus, a Member of National Conference of State Legislators Quad Caucus and the Chair of the Committee on International Affairs and Majority Floor Leader.

Ms. Awana also brings along her expertise from her 6 years at Kamehameha Schools, a well-known and century-old non-profit private school chain for Native Hawaiian population on the islands. She was employed in in the Human Resources and the Asset Management Divisions.

Her community work and initiatives include serving as an advisory board member for Enterprise Honolulu, a board member for Habitat for Humanity, a founder of Waianae Coast Weed and Seed Initiative, board Member & vice-chair for Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board, councilmember for Nanakuli School Community Council, and Chair for Friends of the Nanakuli Public Library.

Throughout her service as a state legislator, her focus has been toward improving education, streamlining transportation, addressing housing solutions, combating illegal drug use, and supporting economic revitalization. During her work at Pacific American Foundation, she founded a national civic engagement project focusing on Asian and Pacific Island youth, mentored participants on leadership and presented initiatives before the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education.