Executive Director – Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association
Pohai Ryan is the Executive Director of the Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association. She brings with her a potpourri of experience that has given her a unique lens into our community and the visitor industry.
Pohai has served as the Executive Director of the Kailua Chamber of Commerce where she executed a start-up grant from the City & County of Honolulu by maximizing community resources and partnerships to deliver an exceptional model of a community visitor center which hosted as many as 1200 visitors in a month in a mere 400 square foot retail space. Through this position as both the E.D. of the KCOC and the Director of the Kailua Information Center she gained unique insights into the expectations of the independent traveler, and businesses that support visitors in island communities.
The success of the Kailua Information Center was made possible partly through the support and efforts of board members and strong community partnerships which included major employers of Windward Oahu such as; and multiple micro businesses and members of the Chamber. Her strong relationships with business owners in the area made it possible to gain their support for other community projects and to engage in honest dialogue with business owners about the positive impact of tourism in Hawaii and how it helps to keep Hawaii’s economy thriving.
Pohai also brings to NaHHA a background in local politics as a volunteer, Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Hawaii and as a legislative office manager to Senator Brickwood Galuteria and as a former State Senator representing one of the largest Native Hawaiian Communities in the State of Hawaii. She also has experience operating her own business which featured “Made in Hawaii” products. In these positions she learned the importance of government support for Hawaii’s primary industry and for the preservation of a quality brand of service well known throughout the world.
Pohai is known for supporting community and boutique businesses and continues to advocate for support from government and private sector that allow Hawaii to remain and grow as a premier world class destination and first choice for day destination tourism by local residents. Pohai’s goal is to teach visitors “respectful visiting” through future projects by NaHHA.
Affiliations and memberships; Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, Maui HLTA, Hawaii Society of Business Professionals, Hawaii Professional Women’s Network, Aloha Society of Association Executives, Society of Human Resource Management, Hawaii Retail Merchants Association, National Association of Professional Women, American Indian Alaskan Native Tourism Association, Chamber of Commerce; Kailua, Kapolei, North Shore, Native Hawaiian & Kauai Native Hawaiian. Kailua Hawaiian Civic Club BOD President.
The Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association is dedicated to promoting and perpetuating the thriving culture that encompasses vast history, extensive knowledge, spiritual depth, relevant values, and natural treasures of Hawai’i and its’ people.
NaHHA was founded in 1997 by George S. Kanahele, Kenneth Brown and other Native Hawaiian professionals to address concerns about how Native Hawaiians and Hawaiian culture were perceived and represented in tourism. They determined that, in order to have greater success in improving tourism and honoring Hawaiian culture and its people, they would need support. In 1997, they called a small group of Native Hawaiians together to form NaHHA, a 501 (c)(3) private nonprofit.
We advocate for the development and advancement of Native Hawaiians in tourism as our best investment in future leaders and in the perpetuation of authentic culture in the industry.
We promote Hawaiian culture in the tourism industry through consulting and educating, developing and implementing effective communication tools, conducting research, and providing project support and coordination.
Working to better connect the Hawaiian community and the tourism industry, NaHHA has formed alliances with various Hawaiian organizations and nonprofits, artists and cultural practitioners, and with tourism associations, hotels and private businesses. These connections and alliances have gained NaHHA recognition as lead agency for the Hawaiian Culture Initiative of the Hawai‘i State Tourism Strategic Plan.