Hawaiian woman passionate about kupuna service selected as Obama Foundation Fellow

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – A Hawaiian woman passionate about serving the kupuna people has been selected as an Obama Foundation Scholar for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Dr. Poki’i Balaz was chosen as one of two American scholars and the first from Hawaii to participate in the fifth cohort. Balaz is currently Head of Policy and Compliance for Lunalilo Home, a retirement home that serves Hawaii’s kupuna.

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program is made up of 30 emerging leaders from around the world who will study at Columbia University or the University of Chicago.

The program offers a hands-on leadership development curriculum, networking events, and more in the hope that scholars can expand their work upon returning home and make a positive difference in their communities.

“The Obama Scholars Program offers students the unique opportunity to give and gain insight into the work that other young leaders are doing in their communities, while talking about the intersectionality of their efforts through collaboration,” said said Obama Foundation Executive Director Valerie Jarrett in a statement.

“We look forward to welcoming the next cohort of Fellows to the Foundation family – a network of changemakers working tirelessly for a more equitable future.”

As a Native Hawaiian and geriatric nurse practitioner, Balaz has applied her experience and skills in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

She is also a member of the Native Hawaiian Health Advisory Board and the Policy Advisory Board for Elderly Affairs, which promotes aging population legislation in Hawaii.

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