LEI Program Overview

LEI is a HTA-sponsored workforce development project created by ClimbHI to inspire Hawai’i’s youth to select careers in the Hawai’i visitor industry by providing them with the necessary means to achieve success. From the student’s perspective, LEI represents an opportunity for Leadership, Exploration, and Inspiration, and from the hospitality industry’s perspective, LEI provides an opportunity to Lead, Expose, and Inspire Hawai’i’s youth. The program began in 2011 with 300 Hawai’i high school students spending a day learning about the hospitality industry and the value of graduating from high school and going on to pursue a post-secondary education. During the course of the day’s program, the students meet, learn, and experience job opportunities that the hospitality industry could provide. Students also receive advice on filling out job/college applications, resumes, personal finance, and support resources.

Over the course of the last 7 years, the program continued to grow and during April 2018, ClimbHI and the Hawai’i Tourism Authority (HTA) will kick-off the 7th annual LEI program for over 1000 high school students and 100 college students from across the state. LEI 2018 will take place on four different islands (Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawai’i Island), involve over 100 businesses, and utilize over 80 volunteers.

New this year is that we are bringing all public high schools in Oahu to the Convention Center and in Maui to Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa.

LEI 2018 will be held on:

  • April 3rd: Maui at Sheraton Maui
  • April 6th: Kauai at Sheraton Kauai
  • April 9th: Oahu at Hawaii Convention Center
  • April 17th-18th: Hawai’i Island at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Example of LEI 2018 Schedule for Oahu

  • 9:15am-10:30am: Hawaii Convention Center – Leadership and inspiration through guest speakers and Hawaiian culture/sense of place trainings
  • 10:45am-2pm: Waikiki hotel visit – Students will be divided into groups and sent to different hotels for an overview of the hotel industry including a dining etiquette piece for lunch.
  • 2pm-3:15pm: Students return to the Hawaii Convention Center for a career fair to expose them to the variety of roles in the hospitality industry and post-secondary education opportunities.


Strong connections made with students:

“This is my second year participating and I certainly have gained so much knowledge and views from the experiences you have given me. It was great to be able to attend and befriend students of other schools as well as meet the staff at the beautiful Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and the Hawaii Convention Center.
The words you spoke of at the last year’s convention, “L.E.I. is not a program! Leadership Exploration and Inspiration are things that you should carry with you in life,” have stayed with me till this day and will continue to try and exemplify these characteristics.” –Student from James Campbell High School

“When I saw Tihati’s Productions and Germaine’s Lu’aū, I knew that people become successful in what they love to do- making it not seem like a typical, normal job. After seeing how people can make a living off of Tahitian and Polynesian dancing, I took it into consideration on adding this job into my future plans for myself. Like any other goal that people set up, I know that if I put in hard work and determination into dancing, I know that someday, I can be a professional dancer.” –Student from Kauai High School.

“The one thing that I most enjoyed about the program was the actual tour of the hotel. I felt that by having that inside access and seeing the entire behind the scenes operations of the hotel, we were able to gain a better sense of the hotel’s system and how each department contributes to the success of the hotel. It was also very intriguing to see how each department contained a certain type of personality profile; it was nice to see everyone happy with their job because it suited their personality and it was reassuring to know that there are jobs that can match your personality type.” –Student from Mililani High School

To get a glimpse of LEI click here to view a short video.

If you are interested to volunteer or get involved for 2019, please contact Julie@climbhi.org


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2017 Summary


  • The 6th annual LEI program expanded to include even more high schools across the state: LEI grew from 29 high schools participating in 2016 to 37 high schools in 2017. Full programs continued to be offered on 4 islands (Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii Island), including over 800 high school students.  For Oahu, Maui, and Kauai, the program consisted of a day-long event including leadership speeches, hotel visits, and a career fair. For Hawaii Island, the overnight hotel program has proven effective to accommodate participants with long drives.
  • The intern and Alaka’iprograms continue to expand. The intern class of 2017 consisted of 4 new team members and 6 returning members.  Alaka’i continue to be sourced from colleges and universities across the state and this year’s programs incorporated over 90 mentors vs 80 alaka’i in 2016.  Alaka’i participate in leadership training ahead of the event and each person commits to a minimum of 9 hours of volunteer hours during the program.
  • The planning and execution of the career fairs on each island have been developed into a curriculum and incorporated into classwork for Hawaii Pacific University on Oahu, Maui College on Maui, and Kauai Community College on Kauai. It was great to see this move beyond Oahu for 2017.
  • A new area of focus in 2017 is post-LEI opportunities. Post-event opportunities included creating awareness about:
    • Scholarships
    • Job openings
    • Internships
    • Other Exposure Events

800+ high school students participated in the LEI event from 37 different schools statewide

Baldwin High School

Farrington High School

Hilo High School

Honoka’a High School

Island School

James Campbell High School

Kaimuki High School

Kaiser High School

Kalani High School

Kamaile Academy

Kapaa High School

Kapolei High School

Ka’u High School

Kauai High School*

Kea’au High School

Kealakehe High School

King Kekaulike High School

Kohala High School

Konawaena High School

Kula Aupuni A Kahelelani Aloha

Lahainaluna High School

Lanai High School

Maui High School

McKinley High School

Mililani High School

Moanalua High School

Molokai High School

Nanakuli High School

Pahoa High School

Pearl City High School

Roosevelt High School

St. Anthony High School

Waiakea High School

Waialua High & Intermediate School

Waianae High School

Waimea High School

Waipahu High School

West Hawaii Explorations Academy Public Charter School

28 hotels provided exposure to their operations and team members:

Embassy Suites by Hilton Waikiki Beach Walk

Grand Hyatt Kaua’i Resort and Spa

Ka’anapali Beach Hotel

The Kahala Hotel & Resort

Koloa Landing

Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel

Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki

Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa

Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa

Honua Kai Resort and Spa

Ilikai Hotel & Luxury Suites

The Modern Honolulu

Queen Kapiolani Hotel

The Ritz-Carlton Residences

The Royal Hawaiian

Royal Lahaina Resort

Sheraton Kauai Resort

Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa

Sheraton Princess Kaiulani

Sheraton Waikiki Hotel

Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk

The Westin

Westin Moana Surfrider

Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa.

Waiohai Beach Club

110 volunteers gave their time to assist with the LEI program and 96 college/university students served as mentors

Hawaii Pacific University

Kapi’olani Community College

Kauai Community College

University of Hawai’i Maui College

University of Hawai’i West Oahu

University of Hawai’i Manoa

100+ businesses participated in the 6th annual LEI program:

Alan Wong’s
Alaska Airlines
Aloha Surf School

Aston Hotels & Resorts Maui

Aulani Disney Hawaii Resort and Spa
Atlantis Adventures

Avis/ Budget

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters


Bubba Gumbs/ Landry’s Inc.
Central Pacific Bank

Cold Fyyre Artisian

Destination Residences Hawaii
Eating House 1849 – by Roy Yamaguchi

Embassy Suites Kapolei
Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Hotel
Enterprise Holdings (Alamo, National and Enterprises Rent-A-Car)
Expedia Local Expert – Destination Experiences
FBI Agency
Four Seasons
Germaine’s Luau
Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa
Grand Wailea

Hawaii Air National Guard
Hawaii Convention Center

Hawaii Employment
Hawaii Language Roadmap Initiative
Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association
Hawaii Pacific University

Hawaii Restaurant Association
Hawaii State Federal Credit Union
Hawaii Tourism Authority

Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Outrigger Experience
Hilton Worldwide


Honolulu Cookie Company
Honolulu Police Department (Waikiki CPT)

Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach
Iolani Palace
Kamaaina Kids
Kapiolani Community College – Hospitality & Tourism Dept.

Kauai Coffee
Kauai Community College – Culinary Dept.

Kauai Marriott Beach Club

Kauai Museum

Kauai Sea Tours

Kauai Visitors Bureau
Keoki’s Paradise Restaurant
Kokua Communications
Leeward Community College
Legacy Events Kauai
Leonard’s Bakery
Mana Kai Maui
Marriott Vacations Worldwide
Maui C&C Fire Department

Maui Jim
Maui Visitor Bureau
Meadow Gold Dairies


Mutual of Omaha
Na Hoaloha Ekolu
Oahu Transit Services, Inc.
Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation

Oceanic Time Warner Cable
Pleasant Holidays

Robert’s Hawaii
Royal Lahaina Hotel
Roy’s Kaanapali
Seasport Divers

Sealife Park
Sheraton Kauai

Sheraton Maui
Silversword Studios
Speedi Shuttle

Stay Waikiki Hotel

St. Regis Princeville
Tanaka of Tokyo Restaurants

The Orchid Lei Company
The Plaza Assisted Living
The United States Marines
Tihati Productions
TIKI’S Grill & Bar

Tommy Bahamas
UH – Maui College
UH – Travel Industry Management

Vector Marketing

Vida Chic Weddings and Events

Westin Ocean Princeville Resort
Windward Community College – OCCE

Wyndham Vacation Ownership

Mahalo to the distinguished speakers and performers

Chucky “Boy” Chock – Kauai Museum

Craig Anderson – Vice President Mauna Kea Resorts

DJ B – Easy

Donna Wheeler – Director of Sales & Marketing Destination Homes

First Lady of Hawaii Dawn Iman-Ige

Govenor David Ige

John Keawe – Artist/ Musician

Julie Morikawa, President of ClimbHI

Katie Brenner – Hotel Manager Sheraton Kauai

Kula Aupuni A Kahelelani Aloha Students

KCK Entertainment

Lee Otaguro – HR Director Sheraton Maui

Leslie Dance – Vice President of Marketing and Product Development Hawaii Tourism Authority

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. – Mayor of Kauai

Palakiko Yagodich, Asst. Professor, University of Hawaii- Kapiʻolani Community College

TC Thompson – Maui Luau Manager Tihati

Tom Cross – Hotel Manager Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel

Tihati Productions

Tonga Sisters

Urahutia Productions

Wil Okabe- Managing Director Hawaii County

Mahalo to our partners:

Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority

County of Hawaiʻi

Hawaiʻi Island Visitors Bureau

Island Air

County of Kauai

Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa

Sheraton Kauai Resort
Germaine’s Luau Hawaiʻi
Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel
Roberts Hawaiʻi

Kala Brand Music Co.