9th Annual LEI Virtual Event

April 2021

LEI 2021 Event Highlights

  • On April 9, 2021 the 9th annual LEI program took place virtually from 9am-11:30am.
    There were 1,000 participants including students and educators from 33 colleges, universities, high schools, and intermediate schools across the state.
  • The event is continuing to touch student lives as educators have access to the 4 videos from the event to reference anytime and CTE has shared the links and added them to the Hospitality Pathway resources.
  • 39 businesses/entities and 52 special guests participated in the program by either joining as a live speaker, participating in the videos, and/or providing a pre-recorded message.
  • Students were highly engaged throughout the event with over 400 positive messages being sent during the live event in the form of questions, agreement, and further thoughts.
  • Post-event student reflections and survey show a positive change to perceptions of the Hospitality Industry with 57% of respondents having a positive view on the industry before the event, and 93% of respondents having a positive view on the industry after the event.

Participants- 1,000 participants including students and educators from 33 colleges, universities, high schools, and intermediate schools across the state.

Participating Middle and High Schools (30)

Admiral Arthur W. Radford High School
Hilo High School
Kahuku High & Intermediate School
Kailua High School
Kaimuki High School
Kaiser High School
Kalani High School
Kapa’a High School
Kapolei High School
Kapolei Middle School
Kauai High School
King David Kalākaua Middle School
Kohala High School
Konawaena High School
Lahainaluna High School
Lana’i High & Elem School
Leilehua High School
Maui High School
Molokai High School
Myron B Thompson Academy
Nānākuli High & Intermediate School
Pearl City High School
President William McKinley High School
Robert Louis Stevenson Middle School
St. Anthony School
Waiakea High School
Waialua High & Intermediate School
Waianae High School
Waimea High School
Waipahu High School

Participating Colleges and Universities (3)

Hawaii Pacific University
University of Hawaii – West Oahu
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Sponsors & Donations

Alaska Airlines
Aloha Hospitality Professionals; Kaukau Box
Blue Hawaiian Helicopter
Boardriders, Inc
County of Hawai’i
County of Maui
Elite Parking Services
Four Seasons Lanai
Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani
Hawaii Tourism Authority
Kahiau Gifts and Services
Mana Cruises + Charters
Mauna Kea Resort
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
Residence Inn by Marriott Oahu Kapolei
RJ Gourmet
Sheraton Kauai Resort
Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa

Participating Businesses & Entities
(39 businesses & entities/52 special guests)

  • Governor David Ige, Governor of Hawai’i, pre-recorded message
  • Mayor Derek Kawakami, Kaua’i County, pre-recorded message
  • Mayor Mike Victorino, Maui County, pre-recorded message
  • Mayor Rick Blangiardi, Honolulu County, pre-recorded message
  • Hawai’i Tourism Authority
    • John DeFries, President & CEO, live speaker
    • Caroline Anderson, Director of Community Enrichment, video
  • Alaska Airlines – Daniel Chun, Director of Sales, Community & Public Relations – Hawai’i, live speaker and video
  • Aloha Hospitality Professionals – Jarod Doi, Talent Acquisition Manager, live speaker
  • Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa – Elliott Mills, Vice President of Operations, video
  • Big Island Candies – Lance Duyao, Director of Retail Operations, video
  • Blue Hawaiian Helicopters – Eric Hamp, Director of Operations, live speaker
  • Boardriders, Inc. – Raelayn Borges, Field Visual Merchandiser – Hawai’i, live speaker
  • Careers by the People – Mike Wysocki, Author, live speaker
  • Castle Resorts & Hotels
    • Crystal Idica, Director of Online Sales, video
    • Jordan Joanou, Vice President of Revenue Management, video
  • ClimbHI
    • Julie Morikawa, President, live speaker
    • Palakiko Yagodich, Master of Ceremony, video and live speaker
  • Elite Parking Services
    • Nina Naka’ahiki, Executive Vice President & Partner, live speaker
    • Chase Takatsugi, Area Manager, Hospitality Division, video
    • Dan Tsuda, Director of Healthcare and Risk Management, video
  • Four Seasons Resort Lana’i
    • Larry Icalla, Island Activities Manager, video
    • Queenie Felipe, Senior Director of Housekeeping, video
    • Rachel Alconcel, Cultural Leader, video
  • Four Seasons Resort Lana’i’s Manele Golf Course – Seril Shimizu, Golf Course Superintendent, video
  • Grand Wailea Maui, A Waldorf Astoria Resort- Kainoa Horcajo, Director of Culture, live speaker
  • Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani – Julie Arigo, General Manager, live speaker
  • Hawai’i Convention Center – Teri Orton, General Manager, video
  • Hawai’i Land Trust – Makana Reilly, Director of ʻĀina Connection, live speaker
  • Hawai’i Lodging and Tourism Association – Muffi Hanneman, President & CEO, live speaker
  • Hawai’i Pacific University – Allyson Agustin, Assistant Director of Admissions, live speaker
  • Hawai’i Visitors and Convention Bureau – Karen Nakaoka, Director of Membership, video
  • Island of Hawai’i Visitors Bureau – Ross Birch, Executive Director, live speaker
  • Mana Cruises + Charters
    • Jacob Kahiapo, Owner, video
    • Kawika Kahiapo, Crew Member, video
    • Rodney Banis, Crew Member, video
  • Mauna Kea Resort
    • Grayden Ha’i-Kelly, Director of Activities, video
    • Peter Abarcar, Jr, Executive Chef, video
  • Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association (NaHHA) – Malia Sanders, Director of Operations, live speaker
  • Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
    • Ashlie Duarte, Museum Educator, video
    • Ford Ebesugawa, Youth Programs & Scout Manager, video
  • Prince Waikiki, Honolulu Luxury Hotel – Jared Matsuki, Hotel Assistant Manager, live speaker and video
  • Residence Inn by Marriott Oahu Kapolei
    • Kelly Kitashima, Director of Sales & Marketing, live speaker and video
    • Brian Hunnings, General Manager, live speaker
  • Ritz Carlton Residences Waikiki – Doug Chang, General Manager, live speaker
  • RJ Gourmet Maui – Rob Mason, Private Chef, live speaker and video
  • Sheraton Kaua’i Resort
    • Joseph Kaneakua, Security Manager, video
    • Kaira Kupihea, Human Resources Manager, video
  • Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa – Andy Badua, Baker, video
  • University of Hawai’i – Kapiʻolani Community College – Dave Evans, Chair & Professor, live speaker
  • University of Hawai’I at Mānoa – Carissa Gusman, Director & Advisor, live speaker
  • University of Hawai`i – West O`ahu – Holly Itoga, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, live speaker
  • Waikiki Resort Hotel – Glenn Vergara, Vice President & General Manager, video appearance

Virtual 9th Annual LEI Program Event

Value of Tourism to Me
Careers in Hawaii’s Hotels & Resorts
Other Careers Beyond Hotels & Resorts in Hawaii’s Hospitality Industry

Post-Event Student Reflections

Before the LEI Conference I didn’t think that the tourism industry had much of an impact, I thought that they only took care of the people who were visiting. Now, after the Conference it changed my whole perspective. I have noticed how much the tourism industry does for people and for Hawaii. Not only are they a source of income, but they also help share the values and the knowledge about Hawaiian culture. When people around the world come to visit Hawaii, the tourism industry treats their guests with aloha and makes sure that they start to love Hawaii not only for the environment and the beaches, but for their culture and the special bond that everyone has with one another. One of the main reasons why people join the tourism industry is to make people notice how beautiful Hawaii really is, and without the tourism industry people wouldn’t have that opportunity. It gives them a reason to love Hawaii and want to come back. Overall, the tourism industry has become very important to me because it helps people who visit gain the experience and knowledge about Hawaii and its culture.
Student from Waianae High School

The tourist industry in Hawaii is important to me because it gives so many locals opportunities to work and find a passion. I also find that the importance of the tourist industry falls under the knowledge that we can spread to visitors that come from all over. We can share our culture, mana, and ‘Aina with them. The tourist industry supports so many of the needs and wants of the islands, from agriculture to stores. The money from the enormous industry gets funneled back into our communities, schools, roads, and government. The people of Hawaii should be so grateful to have such a once-thriving industry and soon to be brought back once again. I know that I’m so very thankful for this industry not only because of the profits that Hawaii gets but for the opportunities that are given to many local Keiki and future generations.
Student from Molokai High School

The tourism industry in Hawaii is important to me because it was my first welcome into America. As an immigrant from the Philippines, my family decided to move to America for better opportunities. After getting off my flight, the tourism industry was the first thing to welcome me on this island. The welcoming faces of people, whom I have never met before, made me feel like I’ve been living here for years. It felt like home.

The tourism industry does so much for our community that it is sometimes overlooked. People think that the tourism industry is there just to accommodate tourists and give our island money, but it’s actually way more than that. The tourism industry creates new ways to welcome a variety of people into our islands. Not only that, but the tourism industry in Hawaii is completely different from other areas. Our industry finds a way to make you feel like home, even if you are miles away from home. In addition, they treat you like family, despite just meeting you for the first time. Without the tourism industry, I don’t think I would have felt very welcome stepping onto new land. That is why the tourism industry in Hawaii is important to me.

Student from Waipahu High School