The Board of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation provides leadership and raises funds for the organization. Each board member serves a term of four years.
- Roy Catalani, President
- Robert Merce, Vice President & Secretary
- Kevin Cockett
- Mike Hodson
- Malia Ka`aihue
- Gina Lobaco
- Jon Matsuoka
- Mark Kawika Patterson
- Teresa Tico
- SPOTLIGHT ON NEW BOARD MEMBERS
NHLC recently welcomed three individuals to its Board: Malia Ka`aihue, Gina Lobaco and Mark Kawika Patterson.
Board members Malia Ka`aihue, Gina Lobaco and Mark Kawika Patterson explain why they wanted to serve on NHLC’s Board.
Partner and VP of Strategy
It is an honor to serve on the Board of Directors of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation. I have long admired the tremendous work of the organization who in my opinion works every day to carry out the state’s motto, ua mau ke ea o ka ‘āina i ka pono, in a manner consistent with Kauikeauoli.
Waiōhinu and Kaʻimukī are my kulaiwi. I’m raising my seven children, along with my husband, Duane DeSoto in Kaʻimukī. I’m a graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi [UH] where I earned a BA in both Hawaiian Studies and Hawaiian Language and an MA in Political Science and completed a Ph.D. in Political Science specializing in Indigenous Politics.
I’m the managing partner and president of DTL, a Hawaiian strategy studio, in Kakaʻako. And through my work continuously challenge the status quo by utilizing Hawaiian history, politics and language combined with experience in government, community and business to provide critical thought around deploying cultural and community assets to solve modern day challenges.
I’m committed to utilizing these skills to support NHLC’s mission to perpetuate, through legal and other advocacy, the rights, customs and practices that strengthen Native Hawaiian identity and culture.
Associate Director of Philanthropy
Serving on NHLC’s board of directors is a huge honor and an important kuleana for me. When you live in Hawaiʻi, the presence of Hawaiians is felt everywhere. Every place on every island—river, mountain, forest, beach, valley, field—has a name and every name has a story, reflecting the love, reverence and stewardship of the ʻaina which was the hallmark of Hawaiʻi’s, pre-contact civilization. In some small measure, I hope to help NHLC in its mission to preserve the rights of Native Hawaiians to perpetuate their heritage, traditions and culture, but also their legal claims to land and water.
I have spent the majority of my professional career working for public-interest law firms which seek to ensure that “equal justice under law” is not merely an empty phrase chiseled into the portico above the U.S. Supreme Court building. In a law-based society, we must ensure that access to the courts and to the corridors of power are open to all, especially those who need it the most but can least afford it. NHLC’s work to represent disenfranchised native communities in Hawaiʻi represents the highest expression of the notion of “liberty and justice for all.”
When I was a young boy, my father charged me to watch my grandmother as she foraged from the reefs fronting our home in Makaha. Wana, Haukeuke, Pipipi, Aama, Waiwaiole and Limu Kohu to name a few of the items my grandmother gathered for the family and her friends. For the most part she never paid attention to the ocean, that was my purpose. Once a rogue surge came upon the reef and knocked my grandmother down I lost sight of her under the white foam of the wave, I dove to the last spot I saw her. I found a leg and held it with one arm while the other was used to hold onto the reef. When the surge receded my grandmother was on her back laughing with haukeuke in each hand. She stood and made her way closer to the dead coral that made up the upper reef. She swung one hand and slammed the haukeuke against the coral and broke it in half. She held half the broken shell to her mouth and began sucking. When she was finished she offered the other half to me, I remember seeing the orange innards in the half shell, she laughed as she saw my face grimace as I backed away from her. She immediately sucked the second half, smiled and said "this is old school McDonalds" and started laughing again. The opportunity to join the NHLC reminded me of this story about my grandmother. For many Hawaiians, hardships come as we attempt to maintain our traditional ways of life, we search and gather what we can to sustain ourselves from our ancestral foundation but we are constantly being knocked down by external surges that we do not control. NHLC is an organization that is prepared to reach out through the mist to take hold when all seems hopeless to allow our people to continue to feed on who we are, to pick up our fallen and set them on their feet again so that we can become all that we can. I am honored to be a part of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation.
Your donation will enable the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation to provide effective, low cost legal assistance to individuals, families and communities who seek to protect their traditional cultural practices and maintain their ancestral ties to their lands and natural resources.