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2010 honorees 
33rd Annual LeaderLuncheon

Please join us in congratulating this year's
LeaderLuncheon honorees:


Violeta Arnobit
Faye Kennedy
Nanci Kreidman
Nola Nahulu
Leslie Wilcox


Violeta Arnobit - 2010

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Violeta Arnobit and her husband embarked on the risky venture of starting a small business when she was pregnant with their fourth child. Working as a nurse in home health care in the 1980s, she saw an opportunity to provide quality products and services to enable a better quality of life for Hawaii’s aging population. Violeta had little business experience and virtually no start-up capital, but she trusted her instinct above the security of a steady paycheck. Violeta set up a home office in her daughter’s room and created a warehouse in the family garage. After several precarious years of operating losses, Ace Medical, Inc. flourished and the business achieved $1 million in sales by 1999.

Originally from the Philippines, Violeta grew up around small business. Her grandparents owned a gas station and bus service, and as a young girl she ran the cash register at her parents' neighborhood grocery store. The family immigrated to New York City with very humble means. Violeta’s personal and professional successes make her a leader among Filipino women, health-care providers, and all women in Hawaii.

This accomplished entrepreneur is still a nurse at heart; she personally takes 24 hour service calls to respond to emergencies and attend to client needs. Her commitment to patient care is shown through her involvement with the Filipino Nurses Association of Hawaii. As President of the Association, she promoted educational programs and developed networking opportunities for nurses to build their careers. Among her many accolades, Violeta was recognized with the Nurse of the Year Excellence in Leadership Award in 2009.

Faye Kennedy- 2010

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Since arriving in Honolulu in 1978, Faye Kennedy has worked to make Hawaii a better place. She strives for equal opportunity and equal treatment for all people. Her tools are education and advocacy, and her engagement comes in the form of articles and letters to the editor, participation in panel discussions, legislative hearings, community and classroom forums, and organizing for a range of causes.

The fruits of Faye’s efforts are experienced locally and nationally, at all levels of community. Among her contributions, Faye was instrumental in founding the Hawaii Commission on Civil Rights and was a leader in establishing the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a state holiday in Hawaii. She also promoted diversity and gender equity by organizing a series of events to honor Dr. Donnis Thompson, a trailblazer in UH women’s athletics and the implementation of Title IX legislation.

Faye provides a critical perspective on the African American experience and contributes to the integrity of Hawaii as a multicultural, inclusive community. Level-headed and compassionate, Faye is willing to get involved in controversial issues, especially in support of individuals who are traditionally excluded, unfairly treated, or unable to advocate for themselves. Faye has been known to courageously take an unpopular stand when her support is needed, despite possible repercussions to her personally.

Faye is currently Co-chair of the Hawaii Friends of Civil Rights and President of the Hawaii Women’s Political Caucus. She has been recognized for her advocacy and civic participation by the Honolulu City Council, Who’s Who of American Women, and Hawaii Literacy, Inc., to name a few.

Nanci Kreidman - 2010

Nanci Kreidman is a voice for those who cannot or will not speak for themselves. She is a fighter for women and children for whom “home” is a place of fear, pain and chaos. Some victims survive; others do not. Nanci speaks for them all.

Violence against women is an unrelenting problem to which Nanci Kreidman has dedicated her professional life. As CEO of Domestic Violence Action Center, Nanci is the go-to spokesperson for the issue of domestic violence and a leader among agencies working for change. She has partnered with educational institutions and spearheaded statewide coalitions addressing the many layers of domestic abuse, from interpersonal to systemic. The recent DVAC campaign, Hiding in Plain Sight, stressed that domestic violence is not restricted to specific socioeconomic groups. Through education and awareness, Nanci seeks to prevent abuse and raise awareness in order to stop violence before it escalates catastrophically.

On a given day, Nanci’s job may take her from testifying in a criminal case to teaching teens to spot early signs of abuse to being a surrogate “auntie” to young victims in need. Nanci possesses the vigor and resiliency required to work in the field of domestic violence. Her stamina is matched with an ethical compass that guides her organizational leadership. She strives for gender and racial equality through the daily activities of her own organization as well as any committee or coalition on which she serves.

The YWCA joins a list of organizations that have recognized Nanci for her service and achievements, including Soroptomists Hawaii, Hawaii Women Lawyers and the Salvation Army.

Nola Nahulu - 2010

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All but one of the touring ensembles in the Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus are given Italian names. The highest level touring choir is called Nā Leo Kūho‘okahi, which translates, "Voices Which Stand Together As One.” Members of this elite group are vocal leaders as well as role-models for the younger performers of HYOC. A model of excellence, fellowship and reverence, Na Leo Kūho‘okahi exemplifies the powerful standard set by its director, Nola Nahulu.

Through her work as Director of Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus and numerous organizations on Oahu, Nola has impacted the Hawaii arts community for over 25 years.

Since Nola began working for HYOC, membership has grown from a sparse 30 children to over 200 members performing in nine different ensembles. In 2011 the group will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Music education is the focus of HYOC; members have the opportunity to study keyboard, theory and hula. The individual and institutional success stories that have emerged over the years are largely attributable to Nola’s leadership. Young opera performers transform children from bashful children to poised young adults throughout their tenure with HYOC.

Born and raised in Makaha, Nola’s parents drove to town every weekend for Nola and her sister to take ballet classes at the Honolulu YWCA. Nola graduated from Kamehameha Schools and went on to earn her Bachelor’s at Whitman College and her Master’s at UH-Manoa. Nola has served as choral director for Hawaii Opera Theater, Kawaiaha‘o Church and University of Hawai‘i. She is the founder and director of the Kawaiolaonapukanileo ensemble, a group dedicated to the preservation of the Hawaiian choral music genre.

Leslie Wilcox - 2010

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Leslie Wilcox became a familiar face and a household name in Hawaii as a top-rated news anchor for KHON and KGMB Television. In more than 30 years in newspaper and broadcast journalism, she earned a reputation for integrity and thorough reporting. She held virtually every reporting beat, moderated live election debates, and produced a series of TV documentaries, including “At Any Cost: The Rescue of the Lost Battalion.”

Leslie is also known for her compassion and volunteerism. She co-founded the Lōkahi Giving Project, and for two decades spent untold hours outside her work in news, helping provide emergency assistance and holiday provisions for working individuals and families in Hawaii.

Three years ago, Leslie combined her passion for storytelling, lifelong learning and the nonprofit sector. She took the helm of Hawaii’s own public television station and multi-media organization, PBS Hawaii. Today, Leslie is credited with revitalizing PBS Hawaii into a vibrant, locally oriented people’s station. She says her leadership style is collaborative and that any advances are the result of working alongside many others.

Despite a dreary economy in these first years of Leslie's tenure, PBS Hawaii has strengthened local programming and local engagement, expanded children’s educational shows, and brought in trusted international news, including the BBC World News and NHK World TV from Asia. The station is creating the first statewide student news network in the country, called Hiki Nō, meaning “can do.” It’s an innovative digital media program which will help students develop 21st-century workforce skills, and inform citizens about young people's interests and concerns in communities large and small throughout the state.

Leslie, born and raised in Hawaii, lives on Oahu's North Shore. She and her husband have a blended family, with four grown children and three young grandchildren.

She is an example of first-rate professionalism, with down-to-earth charm and extraordinary energy.

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