Message from Kai

Message from Mililani

Message from Kai

Message from Mililani

About Kai

Kai is a native Hawaiian and lineal descendant from Hawaiʻi’s last remaining fishing village, Miloliʻi, in South Kona on Hawaiʻi Island. Kai’s commitment to his ʻāina aloha of Hawaiʻi and serving the community is rooted in the values he was immersed in by his father and kūpuna from Miloliʻi.

Kai is a product of Hawaiʻi’s public school system, having graduated from Hilo High in 1992, attending Hawaiʻi Community College and UH-Hilo, and earning a BS in Education from UH Mānoa. Here, he balanced life as an NCAA Division-I student-athlete and UH Rainbow Warriors Men’s Volleyball Team member.

Kai is a combat veteran, pilot, and commissioned officer in the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard, U.S. Air Force, where he continues to serve as a Lieutenant Colonel at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaiʻi. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules pilot, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Kai is also a commercial pilot for Hawaiian Airlines, working alongside his wife, Maria, a senior flight attendant. Together, their most important kuleana is raising and caring for their daughters, who attend Hawaiian language immersion school in Hilo.

In 2016, Governor David Ige appointed Kai to the Hawaiʻi State Senate for District 1 following the unexpected death of his father, the late Senator Gil Kahele. During his tenure as a state senator, he served as the Majority Whip, Majority Floor Leader, and Chair of the Committees on Higher Education and Water and Land.

In 2020, Kai was elected to represent Hawaiʻi’s 2nd Congressional District in Washington, D.C., in the 117th Congress. Kai served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he helped usher in millions of dollars in resources to Hawaiʻi with the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. He also served on the House Armed Services Committee, leading the charge on the early response to the Navy’s crisis at Red Hill.

Kai continues to serve in the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard, where he will complete his Master's Degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, this July. Additionally, Kai is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, where he teaches commercial aviation at the UHH Aeronautical Sciences Program.

Ke Ala Hoʻokele

Kai's vision is to navigate OHA toward a beacon of hope and empowerment for Native Hawaiians. Inspired by its original mission from 1978, Kai envisions OHA as a dynamic and flexible institution that uses its resources to empower community leaders, support talented and hardworking Hawaiians, and inspire the next generation of ‘ōiwi leaders. Kai sees OHA expanding its impact by fostering innovation and leadership within Hawaiian communities. Drawing on extensive experience and connections at state and federal levels, Kai is committed to transforming OHA into a catalyst for positive change, ensuring it reaches new heights in serving and uplifting Native Hawaiians. Together, we can chart a course toward hope, resilience, and unity for our lāhui.

Empower
Community Leaders

OHA can use its resources to recognize, support, and empower community leaders who know their communities best but have been overlooked. This includes building capacity to support these individuals and infusing energy into Native Hawaiian communities to inspire innovation and progress.

Restore Trust
and Build Capacity

OHA must evolve from its past issues with fiscal accountability and internal controversy and commit itself to re-earning the trust of the public, state government, and OHA’s beneficiaries. OHA needs to build strategic capacity as an enterprise that can flexibly understand and respond to the dynamic needs of the lāhui and Native Hawaiian communities.

Foster
Innovation

OHA can serve as an incubator to inspire the best and brightest minds in the Native Hawaiian community to drive innovation. This includes creating opportunities for talented Native Hawaiians to develop and accelerate new ideas and solutions that can move the lāhui forward.

Data Impact

OHA has historically maintained vital databases of resources for use across research, grant writing, and projects. The Papakilo Database, Kipuka Database, and Native Hawaiian Data Book are important resources that require critical reinvestment and consistent updating. Native Hawaiians represent a higher number of disproportionately impacted communities in this State, and up-to-date data collection, dissemination, and disaggregation of data specifically for Native Hawaiians will substantially assist those organizations and community leaders seeking resources that impact the Native Hawaiian community.

Advocate for State and Federal Resources

OHA must continue to advocate for fulfilling the state’s Public Land Trust revenue obligations. This includes developing both short-term and long-term political and strategic goals to ensure OHA has the resources needed to deliver progress for its beneficiaries. Additionally, OHA should concentrate its efforts on identifying federal resources for projects that can benefit Native Hawaiian communities. This involves building greater capacity in its Washington D.C. office, working together with the other Native American and Alaskan & Tribal organizations, and strengthening its relationship with Hawaiiʻs congressional delegation as well as other Members of Congress.

Ke Ala Hoʻokele

Kai's vision is to navigate OHA toward a beacon of hope and empowerment for Native Hawaiians. Inspired by its original mission from 1978, Kai envisions OHA as a dynamic and flexible institution that uses its resources to empower community leaders, support talented and hardworking Hawaiians, and inspire the next generation of ‘ōiwi leaders. Kai sees OHA expanding its impact by fostering innovation and leadership within Hawaiian communities. Drawing on extensive experience and connections at state and federal levels, Kai is committed to transforming OHA into a catalyst for positive change, ensuring it reaches new heights in serving and uplifting Native Hawaiians. Together, we can chart a course toward hope, resilience, and unity for our lāhui.

Empower Community Leaders

OHA can use its resources to recognize, support, and empower community leaders who know their communities best but have been overlooked. This includes building capacity to support these individuals and infusing energy into Native Hawaiian communities to inspire innovation and progress.

Restore Trust and Build Capacity

OHA must evolve from its past issues with fiscal accountability and internal controversy and commit itself to re-earning the trust of the public, state government, and OHA’s beneficiaries. OHA needs to build strategic capacity as an enterprise that can flexibly understand and respond to the dynamic needs of the lāhui and Native Hawaiian communities.

Foster Innovation

OHA can serve as an incubator to inspire the best and brightest minds in the Native Hawaiian community to drive innovation. This includes creating opportunities for talented Native Hawaiians to develop and accelerate new ideas and solutions that can move the lāhui forward.

Data Impact

OHA has historically maintained vital databases of resources for use across research, grant writing, and projects. The Papakilo Database, Kipuka Database, and Native Hawaiian Data Book are important resources that require critical reinvestment and consistent updating. Native Hawaiians represent a higher number of disproportionately impacted communities in this State, and up-to-date data collection, dissemination, and disaggregation of data specifically for Native Hawaiians will substantially assist those organizations and community leaders seeking resources that impact the Native Hawaiian community.

Advocate for State and Federal Resources

OHA must continue to advocate for fulfilling the state’s Public Land Trust revenue obligations. This includes developing both short-term and long-term political and strategic goals to ensure OHA has the resources needed to deliver progress for its beneficiaries. Additionally, OHA should concentrate its efforts on identifying federal resources for projects that can benefit Native Hawaiian communities. This involves building greater capacity in its Washington D.C. office, working together with the other Native American and Alaskan & Tribal organizations, and strengthening its relationship with Hawaiiʻs congressional delegation as well as other Members of Congress.

Donate

Kai for Hawaiʻi will not solicit donations for Kaiʻs campaign for OHA Hawaiʻi Island Trustee. Instead, if you are inspired to give, we ask you to consider supporting our lāhui by donating to a family in need affected by the August 8th, 2023, wildfires in Lāhainā.
Mahalo!

Join Kai for Hawaiʻi

Two years ago, Kai released a bold, visionary plan to return Hawaiʻi to its people. Change like this rarely happens overnight. However, it is an inspiring goal for Hawaiʻi and future generations, aiming to bend the arc toward a more fair, equitable, and just Hawaiʻi. But it all starts with you. You can be part of the solution. You can be part of a movement for change.

Join Kai and the thousands of others across Hawaiʻi and be a part of the Hawaiʻi Not For Sale Movement!

Download the plan here: 10 points to return Hawaiʻi to the people

Imua Hawaiʻi

Join Kai for Hawai‘i

Two years ago, Kai released a bold, visionary plan to return Hawaiʻi to its people. Change like this rarely happens overnight. However, it is an inspiring goal for Hawaiʻi and future generations, aiming to bend the arc toward a more fair, equitable, and just Hawaiʻi. But it all starts with you. You can be part of the solution. You can be part of a movement for change.

Join Kai and the thousands of others across Hawaiʻi and be a part of the Hawaiʻi Not For Sale Movement!

Download the plan here: 10 points to return Hawaiʻi to the people

Imua Hawaiʻi