News Flash

Press Releases

Posted on: April 5, 2022

Committee on the Status of Women announces 'Women of Excellence' Awards

Maui County’s Committee on the Status of Women ended Women’s History month by presenting its semi-annual “Women of Excellence” awards on Tuesday, March 29, at the University of Hawaii, Maui College.  Award recipients were honored as “Maui’s Mana Wahine.” 

This is a celebration, storytelling, deep listening, and reverence. Activating our strengths – together – we are women, here to support each other and raise each other up!” said Committee Chair Kate Griffiths in her opening remarks.

Maui County’s First Lady Joycelyn Victorino congratulated awardees by saying, “I could not be prouder of you Maui Mana Wahine for your dedication and commitment to family, healing, community and career. Women are the backbone of our families and community and our roles have no boundaries. On behalf of all the people of Maui County, mahalo for your contributions and your legacy.” 

The 2022 Women of Excellence, “Maui’s Mana Wahine” recipients are:


Young Woman of Promise (14-21 years old):

  • Makena Sunset Kawaialoha Guzman, Student, Kamehameha Schools, Maui Campus; altar server, usher, and sacred gesture dancer at St. Theresa Church; teacher’s aide for faith formation classes and youth ministry member. At the pandemic’s onset, she led efforts to sew face-masks for health care workers. Volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Maui and ot plant native plants in Kipuka Olowalu. Member of the National Honor Society, Health Occupation Students of America, Lifeteen, Hawaiian Ensemble, and Halau Kekua’okala’au’ala’iliahi. Nominated by Chanel Guzman.


Women of Excellence (22 years old to 59):

  • Valerie Janikowski, RN, BSN, Founder & Program Director, Lana’i Kina’ole; administrator, grant writer, long term healthcare advocate, compassionate home health care provider. Valerie is at the forefront of patient advocacy through Lana’i Kina’ole, the island’s only licensed home health care agency. Nominated by Councilmember Gabe Johnson.
  • Adrianne Heely, Judge, District Court of the Second Circuit, Hawaii State Judiciary. Serves on the Hawaii State Supreme Court’s Board of Examiners, former Vice President of the Maui County Bar Association, Hawaii State Bar Association director-young lawyers division, and Hawaii State Bar Association government lawyers section chair. She is an inspiration to young women who aspire to a career that helps women and children as well as young Native Hawaiian women. Nominated by Leo Caires.
  • Shandell Lehua Kaopio, Program Senior Advisor, GEAR UP, University of Hawaii, Maui College. Volunteer for Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii, Foster Youth Coalition and Kauahea Foundation previous volunteer service to KIDS HURT TOO Maui Economic Opportunity’s youth program. Currently enrolled in the ASU Master’s Program in Indigenous Education. As a tutor, she applies Hawaiian culture, history and values to her teaching in an effort to end discrimination against single mothers. Nominated by Leihua Bissen.


Unsung Hero (60 years old & up):

  • Gina Gillstrom, Lead Registered Behavioral Technician, Maui Learning Academy. Her commitment to those with special needs makes her an “Unsung Hero.” She often puts aside her own personal needs to help others find solutions to their problems. Nominated by Melody Uluave.
  • P. Denise La Costa, Real Estate Brokerage Owner, La Costa Realty Hawai’i, LLC; Maui Planning Commission vice chair, West Maui Community Task Force vice president, Maui Chamber Orchestra board member, Dame of Honor with the Orthodox Order of St. John Hospittallers Hawaii Priory, lector and eucharist minister for Maria Lanakila Church, member of the RPAC Presidents Circle, Maui County Commissioner for the Maui Commercial Roundtable president, Hawaii Real Estate Commission member. She is recognized for her selfless work, volunteerism and community service. Nominated by Gayle Shufledt.
  • Luz Medina, M.D.,  Physician, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Luz Patricia Medina, MD, Inc.; Maui County Medical Society vice president, member of the Hawaii Medical Association Council and Hawaii Medical Association Committee for CME. Saint Anne’s Parish prayer leader, volunteer for Divine Mercy, and choir member, Maui District Health Office of the Department of Health volunteer. She advocates for undocumented women and those coping with domestic abuse and mental illness. Nominated by Antonio Ramil.

Honorary Historical Award (Posthumous):

  • Linda Higgins, Seabury Hall Librarian Emerita, University of Hawaii Library Advisory Committee member, Carden Academy board member, and University of Hawaii Maui College master gardener. She was a life-long learner, curious, patient, kind and happy help students feel safe and valued. Her steady support and guidance produced many successes and a legacy of warmth, compassion and dedication to service. Nominated by Jessica Crouse
  • Phyllis McOmber, Creator of Continuing Education and University Extension programs on Lana’i and Maui Community College/University of Hawaii Maui College; Women Helping Women advocate on Lana’i, Lana’i Women’s Center and Lanaians for Sensible Growth board member. Co-founder of E Malama I Na Keiki O Lana’i School, Lana’i Baptist Church organ player Maui County Urban Design Review Board member, Lana’i Art Program board member, Maui Hotel and Lodging Association advisor. She was driven by her love for her community and her desire to improve life for anyone and a fiercely passionate fighter whose legacy will continue after her several years of service to the Lana’i Community. Nominated by Councilmember Gabe Johnson.
  • Sarai Stricklin, Philanthropic Artist andTeacher; She shared her artistic knowledge and time with youth in Hana, Keanae and Molokai by teaching them batik arts. She often donated her hand-painted batik scarves and hand-painted Hawaiian themed apparel to events hosted by the Maui Chamber of Commerce and Maui County Office of Economic Development’s “Made on Maui Festival”. She gave her heart to the community and her spirit lives on as an example of humility, generosity, and love of her community. Nominated by Linda Puppolo.
  • Terry Jones, Executive Assistant to Maui County Chief of Police:

Maui Police Department employee for over three decades and supporter of numerous Maui nonprofit organizations. Troy Barboza Law Enforcement Torch Run organizer to benefit Special Olympics, active volunteer for Women Helping Women, Roselani Place, Relay for Life, Maui Police Relief Association and homeless shelters. She served her community by supporting healing, health, and wellness efforts by putting others above herself. She is remembered for her compassion, volunteerism, spirit, and service. Nominated by Melissa Magonigle.


Other Nominees

Other “Women of Excellence” nominees include:

  • Stephanie Badillo, Student, Lana’i High and Elementary School
  • Chloe Shim, Student, King Kekaulike High School
  • Madison Strand, Student, King Kekaulike High School
  • Deborah Ho’ohuli, Director/Head of School, Maui Learning Academy
  • Bobbie-Jo Moniz-Tadeo, Clinical Director/Early Childhood Specialist, Imua Family Services
  • Cara Flores, Founder, Hale Hawaii
  • Edith Nu’u Quintero, Sergeant, Maui Police Department, Domestic Violence Unit
  • Kathryn Kiffmann, Founder/Co-Owner, Kiffmann’s Maui Elite Taekwondo
  • Barbara Vaiaoga, Senior Services Aid II, Department of Housing and Human Concerns

The Committee on the Status of Women thanks following businesses and individuals for their kokua and support:  

Sherri Reeve Gallery & Gifts

Pohaku Kaho’ohanohano Leis

Emura’s Jewelry

B. Miyo-Onaga Designs

Amy Hanaiali’I Collections & CD

Chloe’s Cupcakes

University of Hawaii Maui Campus – Media Services

County of Maui – Office of the Mayor

About the Maui County Committee on the State of Women

The Maui County Committee on the Status of Women (CSW) is a seven-member volunteer group of mayoral appointees that advocates for social justice, educates women on their rights, educates women to vote, engages in political processes, gathers information on women's issues, promotes women's equality, and serves as a resource for women through programming, public education, and citizen participation. Committee Members include Chair Kate Griffiths, Vice Chair Nalana Kaninau, Ki’I Kaho’oho’ohano, Jessica Crosue, Sheron Lehuanani Bissen, Pili Naho’oikaika and Leonora Espaniola. For information on the Maui County Committee on the Status of Women, visit

Facebook Twitter Email

Other News in Press Releases


Posted on: October 3, 2022

Molokai Landfill hours modified

Posted on: September 14, 2022

Trash pickups rescheduled in Kula

Posted on: September 14, 2022

Molokai Landfill hours modified

Posted on: September 6, 2022

Trash pickups rescheduled in Kula

Posted on: August 26, 2022

Update Lanai trash collections delayed

Posted on: August 11, 2022

Trash pickups rescheduled on Lanai

Posted on: May 31, 2022

Trash pickups rescheduled in Wailuku

Posted on: March 28, 2022

Trash pickups rescheduled in Wailuku

Posted on: March 21, 2022

Trash pickups rescheduled in Paia

Posted on: March 14, 2022

No-shows leave COVID-19 test gaps

Posted on: December 27, 2021

Mayor Victorino signs Bill 118

Posted on: December 10, 2021

Prepare for flooding in Maui County

Posted on: December 5, 2021

Mahalawa Bridge - Hana

Posted on: December 2, 2021

Waiehu residents asked to conserve water

Posted on: November 28, 2021

Trash pickups rescheduled in Kula

Posted on: November 26, 2021

Trash pickups rescheduled in Haiku

Posted on: November 15, 2021