About Our President

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Claudia Kaercher
Founder & President

Claudia deLeon Guerrero Fajardo Kaercher is of Chamorro-Filipino descent from the Mariana Archipelago in Micronesia, a region in the Western Pacific.  Claudia and her family lived on several islands in the region of Micronesia and graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Tumon, Guam.

As an Arizona resident for over 40 years, Claudia has been an active and positive contributor to her Pacific Islander community. In 2012, Claudia founded Island Liaison (which became a nonprofit organization as of 2014) in Arizona which serves as a resource for providing awareness of available health and educational agencies, and other government services locally to Pacific Islanders.

Claudia is well recognized for her work in fostering better understanding of Pacific Islanders and have received several awards, including most recently from Triad West "2020 Positively Powerful Woman Award", Arizona Asian Chamber of Commerce ”2020 Person of the Year”, ASU "2015 Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion" award, and Arizona Aloha Festival’s “2011 Kokua" award, naming a few.

Read more about Claudia's work here.

Island Liaison Board Members

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Merci J. Hernandez
Chair

Merci J. Hernandez Born on Guam, Merci has made Arizona her home for the past 20 years. An employee of the Judiciary, she serves as a Departmental Liaison with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office and works closely with the Victim Advocacy Office.  As a former member of the Maricopa County Diversity Council, Merci’s role with Island Liaison unknowingly began almost 15 years ago after a colleague requested a presentation featuring Guam and Micronesia for the City of Phoenix Diversity Program.

Read more about Merci here.

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Joanne L. Rondilla, Ph.D
Board of Directors;
Social Media Team

Dr. Joanne L. Rondilla is an award-winning educator. Originally from Dededo, Guam, she and her family moved to the San Francisco bay area (Union City) when she was thirteen years old. She holds degrees from UC Berkeley (M.A., Ph.D.) and UC Santa Barbara (B.A.). Currently, she is an assistant professor in Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (SISS) and Asian American Studies at San Jose State University.

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Kathryn 'Kathy' Nakagawa, Ph.D
Board of Directors; Treasurer

Dr. Kathy Nakagawa is an Associate Professor in Asian Pacific American Studies and Culture, Society & Education in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. She is a native Arizonan and received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University. Her research focuses on the social context of education and Asian Pacific American women's health & storytelling. She currently serves on the board for Asian Pacific Community in Action, Arizona Family Health Partnership, Space 55 Theatre as well as Island Liaison.

Portrait-mode photo of a nonbinary Samoan person. This is Island Liaison member, Li'o. They have their dark brown mullet down around their shoulders. They are wearing rimmed glasses and smiling wide. You can see their shoulders - they are wearing a button-up shift with a pineapple print. The background is purple with Samoan floral motifs.

Li'olemasina "Li'o" Pele Lubanski
Board of Directors; Secretary,
Social Media Team

Li'o Pele Lubanski is of Sāmoan-Bohemian descent born in Long Beach, CA and raised in Mesa, AZ. Li'o is a trans nonbinary individual, among many other intersections. Their mother is from the village Mālie in Upolu, one of the islands of the independent country of Sāmoa. They were one of the first to graduate from Arizona State University with a degree in Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies with a focus on Samoan culture both traditional and modern. They have been involved with EPIC (Empowering the Pacific Islander Community) in California as a cohort member of the 6th cohort of PILOT (Pacific Islander Leaders of Tomorrow) then as a returning alumnus and Mana Mentor for the 10th cohort.

Their passion lies in keeping ancestral knowledge alive and how to innovate that knowledge and apply it to living in the 21st century. Using their lived experiences as a nonbinary trans, queer, neurodivergent person, Li'o is also a fervent advocate for mental health as well as awareness and acceptance of the 2SLGBTQIA+ and neurodivergent communities within indigenous spaces.

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Miriam Aneo
Board of Directors; Community Outreach Liaison/Interpreter (Marshallese)

Miriam Aneo is from the Marshall Islands.  Her parents are, the late Dr. Enta Peter (Dentist) and Jeita Peter (RN) during and after World War II. Miriam was inspired by her parent’s field of work and decided to help her community. In 1994, Miriam was transferred to Honolulu, Hawai’i while working for Mercy Healthcare. Miriam was the Patient Referral Coordinator, assisting patients who were under the Section 177 Health Care programs from four of the Atolls that were affected by radiation as a result of the nuclear testing conducted by the U.S.  Later on, Miriam went to work at Queens Medical Center as a Translator for the Marshallese residents that lacked the necessary proficiency in the English language.  Miriam then moved on and worked for Swissport for over 3 years at the Honolulu International Airport in Honolulu, Hawai’i.

In 2015, Miriam moved her family to Phoenix, Arizona, after her eldest daughter graduated from high school in Honolulu, Hawai’i. Since then, Miriam has continued to work with the Marshallese community living in Arizona. In 2020, Miriam became a part of the Arizona based nonprofit organization Island Liaison as a member of the Board of Directors, focusing on Community Outreach/Interpreter (Marshallese).

Interns

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Gabrielle Romero
Arizona State University
Hawai'i and Pacific Islander Club
HPIC
Fall 2022

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Calie Cordeiro
Arizona State University
Hawai'i and Pacific Islander Club
HPIC
Spring/Fall 2021 - Spring 2022

Volunteers

To Be Announced!