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New Civic Leadership Program Kicks Off with 30 Hawaiʻi Leaders

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The Pacific Resource Partnership, PRP, has launched “Partners for Democracy,” a 15-week non-partisan civic leadership program for emerging leaders who want to harness their passion for political advocacy to bring about change in Hawaiʻi.

The inaugural cohort consists of 30 civic-minded local leaders who are interested in running for elected office or becoming advocates for economic, community and social issues. Partners for Democracy’s training program will run through March 22, 2022, with the option for cohort members to participate in a full-time work study program, working on a local political campaign or a campaign in another state from April to December 2022.

“I am excited to participate in this program to enhance opportunities to create a resilient economy in Hawaiʻi,” said Kirstin Kahaloa, Hawaiʻi Island participant, employed at Kamehameha Schools. “Strengthening economic sectors that create sustainable jobs and career pathways while stewarding ʻāina, our land and natural resources, is important to me. At Kamehameha Schools, we are working in food systems to increase food production in Hawaiʻi, food that is healthy, affordable, and accessible. A thriving Hawaiʻi is one where a community of leaders is willing to come together, eat together, and work towards the future we envision for our keiki. E ʻai kākou – let us eat, let us serve.”

The program officially kicked off in January during a live Zoom presentation with a keynote by nationally acclaimed author and political strategist Christine Pelosi.

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“Our country is in a critical state, and we need more informed and dedicated people to step in and be active in local government and civic engagement,” said Pelosi. “I’m honored to kick-off this unique and much-needed civic development program in Hawaiʻi to cultivate future leaders. I admire the dedication of the cohort participants for their willingness to represent their communities, defend our democracy and make a difference.”

The program’s curriculum is intended to empower leaders with training tools, resources, and support to help them build a solid foundation that will enable them to address the key issues facing Hawaiʻi. Hands-on group and individual sessions will help cohort members to build the strategic skills necessary to become effective candidates for public office, campaign managers or public policy advocates.

“We’re excited to launch this program and encourage new voices with different ideas and perspectives to participate in the democratic process,” said Kyle Chock, Interim Executive Director for Pacific Resource Partnership. “Not only is this an election year, but with redistricting we will be electing legislators for every seat in the Hawaiʻi State Legislature. We’ve received overwhelming interest in the program and our first cohort is a diverse group coming from both the public and private sector, across all counties.”

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PRP’s research findings and polling from the 2018 and 2019 “Hawaii Perspectives” identified affordable housing, homelessness, and economic hardship as some of the top concerns of Hawaiʻi residents. Partners for Democracy will give a new generation of leaders the opportunity to contribute to addressing and resolving some of these issues.

“The rising cost of living is driving our young local talent from the islands, including my daughter, and as a parent it’s heartbreaking to see how our communities are changing, especially here on the neighbor islands. By enrolling in this program, I hope to learn how to run a successful campaign and make meaningful change for my community,” said John Pele, Molokai cohort member.

In addition to advocacy training, the curriculum will include sessions that focus on pressing community issues such as housing and land use with panelists and speakers that are experts in their field to provide insight and differing perspectives.

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