Background & Education
I currently make my home in Waimea on the Big Island of Hawai’i at the beautiful Pu’ukapu Hawaiian Homes. Born and raised in Kailua, O’ahu, my career brought me to the Big Island in 2004. I am a proud graduate of Kamehameha Schools, Kapālama and a University of Redlands graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Education. I am currently pursuing my Master’s degree in Business and Organizational Management.
Family & Career
After a successful twenty-year career at the Sheraton Waikīkī and the Royal Hawaiian Hotels, where I held various positions in Operations, Sales, Human Resources and Training & Development, my world came to a life-altering halt. In 2001, my husband, Charles Kahoali’i Aiu, III, lost his battle with cancer and I found myself a single mother to our six-year-old daughter. Faced with the reality that overnight I lost the love of my life, I decided to further my hospitality career in pursuit of an executive leadership position, with the goal of providing my daughter with the future she deserved.
In 2004, I was offered the Director of Operations position at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa (formally the Kona Surf) responsible for overseeing the operations and a multimillion-dollar renovation. In 2008, I was recruited to join the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel as the Hotel Manager. Within this luxury property, I was responsible for overseeing business operations during the $150 million restoration. My executive management hotel career further expanded to the Hotel Manager at the Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii.
New York, NY
When my daughter, Cashman Kinohi Aiu graduated with honors from Kamehameha Schools Kea’au, we ventured to New York where she attended New York University (NYU). Together we navigated the transition from the Big Island to the Big Apple.
With my extensive knowledge in hotel management and my excitement to return to my education roots, I became a Hospitality and Tourism college professor. Soon thereafter I was recruited by New York-Presbyterian, ranked #1 according to U.S. News and World Report and repeatedly named to the Honor Roll of “America’s Best Hospitals”, to train the Weill Cornell Medical Center hospital staff with the goal to improve the hospitality experience. I was transported to the months I spent at the hospital comforting my husband and realized the personal care and compassion shared by the medical staff was key to healing.
I recall first-hand the aloha spirit that lined the halls at Castle Medical Center as they cared for my husband and kept me informed of his medical needs. Keeping this in mind, I developed a customer service training program that focused on these needed skills. After a successful creation and launch of this program to all service staff, the patient experience “responsiveness and friendliness” service scores saw a twenty-point improvement. The program was then introduced and rolled out at three additional New York-Presbyterian hospital campuses.
Upon my daughter’s graduation from NYU and her successful start to her career, I eagerly returned home to Hawaii to be closer to my parents. Together we are navigating the tumultuous world of building a home on Hawaiian Home Lands.
As a hotel and healthcare executive, I have spent many hours in the boardroom making decisions that affect our guests, employees, and managers. I look forward to bringing this leadership experience to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) boardroom, making decisions that affect our Hawaiian Community.