(c) Eugene Tanner
Morikawa founded ClimbHI in 2011 with the goal of educating Hawaii students about future career options. Its largest initiative, the LEI program (for lead, expose, inspire), focuses on the hospitality industry. The annual event introduces students to opportunities in Hawaii’s tourism sector through hotel tours and a career fair. In 2019 alone, the event drew more than 1,000 high school students, 150 college students and 110 businesses statewide.
“Julie has a deep connection to the hospitality industry. She had a vision to mentor our youth and provide eye-opening experiences that introduced our future leaders to the vast opportunities the industry has to offer, including the ability to build successful careers without having to leave the Islands,” Women in Lodging and Tourism wrote in its February newsletter.
Morikawa also has designed a custom hospitality certificate program for the Hawaii Department of Education in partnership with Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.
Most recently, ClimbHI launched a virtual career training portal, the ClimbHI Bridge, to connect students and educators with businesses for opportunities such as site visits, internships and more. The platform officially launched in December 2020 in partnership with the Hawaii Department of Education, with support from the Hawaii Executive Collaborative. It has already reached more than 4,000 students.
Morikawa told PBN that she’s “very humbled” to be named as Women in Lodging and Tourism’s Woman of the Year.
“To receive that award … really represents our business community coming together and really caring about our next generation,” Morikawa said.