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2019 NACC Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee: Neil J. Kaho'okele Hannahs

Oct 25 2019

Neil J. Kahoʻokele Hannahs is Founder and CEO of Hoʻokele Strategies LLC, a consulting enterprise to support leaders and enterprises working to restore values of Hawaiian worldview, foster a thriving environment, generate robust economy, and promote social equity.

Hannahs is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and received BA and MA degrees from Stanford University in 1973 and 1974.  The seeds of service to his Hawaiian people and the larger community were sown at Stanford.  While a sophomore, he collaborated with classmate Mariane Holu in writing “A Proposal for Hawaiian Awareness” which advocated changes in Stanfordʻs approach to admissions to recognize the persistence demonstrated by Native Hawaiian surmounting myriad socio-economic disadvantages.  As seniors, the couple developed a course on Hawaiian issues to position students as agents of change.  Upon graduation, they married and now reside in Hawaii with their three adult children.

In 1974, Hannahs launched his career at Kamehameha Schools where he held several leadership positions over four decades.  From 2000 to 2015, he directed the Land Assets Division, responsible for a portfolio of 358,000 acres of agriculture and conservation lands.  ¬¬Hannahs championed the engagement of Native Hawaiians in educational, cultural, stewardship, and economic initiatives on these lands.  To enhance prospects for their success, he co-founded the First Nations Futures Program in 2006 in partnership with Stanfordʻs Woods Institute for the Environment and tribal organizations in Alaska and Aotearoa.

The work of this division earned the Innovation and Outstanding Leadership Awards of the Hawaiʻi Conservation Alliance.  Hannahsʻ impact also has been acknowledged with the Kamaʻāina of the Year Award from the Historic Hawaiʻi Foundation, I Ulu I Ke Kumu recognition from the UH Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, and Kalanianaʻole Scholarship Honor of Prince Kuhiō Hawaiian Civic Club.

In 1993, as Hawaii observed the 100th anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy,  Hannahs was inspired to memorialize this historical pivot point in an original symphony.  As executive producer, he raised funds to commission acclaimed musician Lalo Schifrin to compose the Liliʻuokalani Symphony, hold its premiere performance in Honolulu, and have it recorded by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.

Hannahs continues to be active in community affairs, serving on numerous boards of non-profit organizations, as well as the State of Hawaiʻi Commission on Water Resources Management.