Hawaii woman with passion for serving kupuna selected as Obama Foundation Scholar

Dr. Poki'i Balaz has been selected as a class of 2022-2023 Obama Foundation scholar.
Dr. Poki'i Balaz has been selected as a class of 2022-2023 Obama Foundation scholar.(Lunalilo Home/Bennet Group)
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 4:04 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 16, 2022 at 10:02 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawaii woman with a passion for serving the kupuna population has been selected as an Obama Foundation Scholar for the 2022 to 2023 academic year.

Dr. Poki’i Balaz was chosen as the first scholar from Hawaii to participate in the program. Balaz is currently chief policy and compliance officer for Lunalilo Home, a residential care home that serves Hawaii’s kupuna.

The Obama Foundation Scholars program is made up of 30 emerging leaders from around the world who will study at Columbia University or the University of Chicago.

The program offers a hands-on curriculum of leadership development, networking activities and more in hopes that scholars can expand their work when they return home and make a positive difference in their communities.

“The Obama Scholars program provides students with the unique opportunity to give and gain insight into the work that fellow young leaders are driving in their communities, while speaking to the intersectionality of their efforts through collaboration,” said Obama Foundation Chief Executive Officer Valerie Jarrett, in a statement.

“We are eager to welcome the new cohort of Scholars to the Foundation family — a network of changemakers tirelessly working for a more equitable future.”

As a Native Hawaiian and geriatric nurse practitioner, Balaz has leveraged her background and skills in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

She’s also a member of the Native Hawaiian Health Advisory Board and the Policy Advisory Board for Elderly Affairs, promoting legislation on Hawaii’s aging population.