Monday, October 23, 2023 | WASHINGTON D.C. – Following the wildfires on August 8 that devastated areas of Maui County, a delegation from Hawaiʻi is set to meet officials in Washington D.C. this week. The primary objective is to evaluate current recovery allocations and to discuss the potential for additional resources to facilitate economic recovery and both immediate and sustainable relief for Maui County.

The delegation is composed of:

  • Councilmember Yuki Lei Sugimura: Vice-Chair, Maui County Council; Chair, Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee.
  • Councilmember Esther Kiaʻāina (with Jocelyn Doane, Chief of Staff)Vice-Chair, Honolulu City Council; Chair, Planning and the Economy Committee.
  • Laksmi Abraham: Legislative Liaison/Executive Assistant to Maui Mayor Richard Bissen.
  • Kūhiō Lewis: President & CEO, Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.
  • Sherry Menor-McNamara (with Adrian Kamali‘i, Communications Consultant): President & CEO, Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi.
  • Melissa Unemori Hampe (Skog Rasmussen LLC for Debbie Cabebe, CEO): Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc.
  • Michelle Kauhane: Senior Vice President & Chief Impact Officer, Hawaiʻi Community Foundation.
  • Dr. Noe Noe Wong Wilson: Vice-Chair, Board of Directors, ʻĀina Aloha Economic Futures.
  • Leslie Wilkins: CEO, Maui Economic Development Board.
  • Dr. Luke Bailey: CFO, Maui United Way.

The delegation’s primary activities in Washington D.C. include scheduled meetings with Hawaiʻi’s congressional delegation, officials from the Small Business Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Economic Development Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the White House, and members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Reflecting on the solidarity seen in the aftermath, Councilmember Sugimura expressed, “Our journey towards recovery has been uplifted thanks to the incredible support from the private sector and our sister islands. This endeavor to D.C. is a manifestation of that unity. With heartfelt gratitude, we’re committed to securing what Maui County truly needs.”

Sherry Menor-McNamara stressed the wider economic implications. “Maui’s resilience is about more than immediate relief; it’s about a long-term vision to strengthen our economy, safeguard jobs, and rebuild our community. We’re determined to ensure this message resonates in the corridors of Washington.”

Kūhiō Lewis articulated, “Our immediate responsibility is ensuring that resources reach the communities affected most by these wildfires. Yet, our vision extends beyond the present moment. We are dedicated to laying the groundwork for long-term recovery, fortifying Maui Nui’s resilience for generations to come.”

Debbie Cabebe, CEO of Maui Economic Opportunity, commented, “I’m heartened to know that MEO is actively participating in these crucial discussions for Maui County’s recovery. With nearly six decades of service to Maui Nui, our dedication to the community is unwavering. We’ve stood by our people in times of prosperity and adversity, and this time is no different. Our collective efforts will ensure that the resilient spirit of Maui remains undiminished.”

Echoing a collective sentiment, Councilmember Kiaʻāina shared, “This mission symbolizes more than just economic recovery for Maui County; it stands as a testament to Hawaiʻi’s collective spirit in times of challenge. We are united in our endeavor to advocate for a bright future for Maui, its people, and our state in memory of such deep and painful loss.”

The delegation’s Washington agenda will emphasize the pressing needs of the Maui community, backed by a detailed roadmap aimed at ensuring a holistic and sustainable recovery.

Beyond just securing additional resources, the message is clear: Together, Hawaiʻi is poised to rebuild and rejuvenate Maui with renewed vigor.


  1. Letter to Hawai‘i’s Congressional Delegation – PDF: Maui Economic Recovery Letter FINAL.pdf 

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