Big Island Woman Takes on New Role at Kupu
A Big Island woman will take on a new role at Kupu, Hawai‘i’s leading conservation and youth education nonprofit organization.
Jessica Kaneakua has been promoted to External Affairs Officer. Previously serving as Kupu’s Government Relations & Strategic Partnerships Officer for the past six months, she will now work in fundraising, strategic communications, strategic partnerships, government affairs and community outreach.
In addition to her work with Kupu, Kaneakua serves as a Board Member on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund Board, which works to improve the lives of Native Hawaiians through financial assistance.
Kaneakua was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the youngest of six children with a Hawaiian father. She represents the first generation in her family to attend college and continue onto graduate school. She won a full scholarship to Macalester College, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Kaneakua pursued a Master of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Connecticut, where she worked as a graduate teaching and research assistant.
Drawn to better understand and connect with her Native Hawaiian roots, Kaneakua took a position at Molokai Community Health Center, moving to Molokai in 2013. She relocated to Hawai’i Island to start a family seven years ago, where she has served in the education, community and nonprofit sectors.
Kaneakua is currently pursuing a Master of Legal Studies in Indigenous Peoples Law through the University of Oklahoma, College of Law, to enhance her ability to serve lāhui.
She currently lives in Puna on Hawaiʻi Island with her ōhana.