Kāwika Riley believes that democracy is not a spectator sport and Hawaiʻi deserves people willing to care for her. Born and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, Kāwika left the islands for college and spent his professional career in Washington DC before moving to Oʻahu in his 30s. While on the U.S. Continent he worked for Senator Daniel Akaka, was an instructor at the George Washington University, and spent two years as a national spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration during President Obama’s first term. His last job in DC was as the Washington DC Bureau Chief for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Kāwika spent five years as Chief Advocate at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and ran Liliʻuokalani Trust’s statewide community change initiative program. Currently he is the Director of Government Relations and Strategic Partnerships at Kupu, Hawaiʻi’s leading youth-oriented conservation nonprofit. He has served on local and national boards, and is currently writing a dissertation on the role of Native Hawaiian community leaders in shaping Congressional policy. Kāwika appreciates the opportunity to be part of an organization whose mission is to facilitate dialogue on important public policy issues, and raise the bar for how policies are considered, decided, and implemented.
While not quite kamaʻāina to Oʻahu, Kāwika now calls Kaimukī home. He is happiest in the company of his wife and two children, wherever their adventures take him.