Our Team

Brent Kakesako
Executive Director
Brent feels humbled to co-learn alongside communities across Hawai'i and beyond and blessed with an awesome team he supports as best he can. He is driven by his family upbringing, the connection he feels to this place, and his initial eye opening community engagement experiences. Brent also dabbled in supporting the startup ecosystem, founded a small consulting business, coaches wrestling, and wipes out a lot at Kewalo's. He received his J.D. from the William S. Richardson School of Law, an M.B.A. from the Shidler College of Business, and his Bachelors from Harvard University focused on the study of teams.
Keoki Noji
Chief Operating Officer
Keoki Noji is the Chief Operating Officer of HACBED and supervises the planning and execution of training and technical assistance activities. In addition, Keoki is responsible for grant writing, budgeting, and reporting. He has extensive experience and background with grant and project management, operation, and evaluation. Before coming to HACBED, Keoki was employed by the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Program at Kapi‘olani Community College (KapCC) as the Marketing Coordinator.
Merri Keli‘ikuli
Office Manager & Program Support
Merri Keli‘ikuli is the Office Manager & Program Support of HACBED, responsible for day to day management of the office, accounting/bookkeeping, and support across various programs/projects. Merri’s work experience includes her previous role as Executive Director of Hoa ‘Āina O Mākaha, overseeing daily operations, grant and budget management, and community outreach. Prior to that, she led several teams in retail operations while executing merchant planning and buying for more than 25 years. Merri received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Loyola Marymount University.
Sean Tangco
Program Specialist
Sean Tangco is honored to work alongside the HACBED team and co-learn with all of its community partners. After finishing his graduate research in applied anthropology at San Diego State, he has focused on applying his research in identity politics and education in our community. He is committed to doing his part in the advancement of social justice. He believes his role is to contribute his passion for data collection/analysis, story telling, and community building to any project that aligns with this purpose.
Angelica Penaran
Community Planning Support AmeriCorps VISTA
Angelica graduated with a bachelor's degree in Asian/Pacific-American Students from Arizona State University and a master's degree in Social and Community Leadership from The University of Auckland in New Zealand. After living in Auckland for four years, she decided to moved to Hawaiʻi to pursue her passion of working with the community towards social equity and justice. Angelica hopes to offer support to individuals, families and community organizations by lifting up community voice and assisting with various projects and activities.
Pua Lani Yang
Research & Planning Support AmeriCorps VISTA
Pua is excited to learn and contribute to HACBED's mission of advancing holistic community development. After serving with the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, she wanted to direct her passion for social justice and experiences with community engagement to her island home. Prior to the Peace Corps, she was a research assistant at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, where she received her Bachelorʻs of Arts in Public Health. In her free time, Pua enjoys hanging out in a hammock with a book after a good swim.

We mahalo the following former team members for their hard work and dedication:

Bob Agres · Paige Allen · Will Chen · Molly Chlebnikow · Jamie Cook · Ben Costigan · Brent Dillabaugh · Trung Doan · Anna Dorman · Kamuela Enos · Athena Esene · Avemaoe Galeaʻi · Justin Fanslau · Maggie Flynn · Elwen Freitas · Sharde Freitas · Randy Gingras · Tony Hall · Hunter Heaivilin · John Higgins · Eden Jablon · Manish Joshi · Larissa Meinecke Kick · Derrick Kiyabu · James Koshiba · Malachi Krishok · Trevor La Torre-Couch · Vivienne Lee · Jay Mason · Gary Maunakea-Forth · Blake McElheny · Hermina Morita · Briana Monroe · Paula Nagao · Mika Okuno · Chelsie Onaga · Gaby Orantes · Tommy Otake · Vini Pabon · Kehau Padilla · Sang-Hyoun Pahk · Foley Pfalzgraf · Piʻilani Pang · Joong-hee Park · Richard Pezzulo · Ethan Porter · David Rothwell · William Simmons · Padmendra Shrestha · Collin Siu · Susan Tamanaha · Lee Tokuhara · Hanale Vincent · David Washburn · Johnathan Yim