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 35 years, Claudia has been an active and positive contributor to her Pacific Islander community. In 2014, Claudia founded Island Liaison, a nonprofit organization in Arizona which serves as a resource for providing awareness of available health and educational agencies, and other government services locally to Pacific Islanders with the focus on people from the Freely Associated States (FAS).  

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

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.

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Li'olemasina "Li'o" Pele Lubanski
Board of Directors; Secretary

Li'o Pele Lubanski is of Samoan-Bohemian descent born in Long Beach, CA and raised in Mesa, AZ. Their mother is from the village Malie in Upolu, one of the islands of the independent country of Samoa. 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."

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Miriam Aneo
Board of Directors; Community Outreach Liaison/Interpretor (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).

Staff Members

Rebecca Lee

Rebecca Lee
Webmaster

Rebecca Lee is an award-winning strategic communications professional with nearly 15 years of experience in government, consulting, and nonprofit environments. She runs a consulting business providing digital marketing, public relations, and design services for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) advocacy organizations.

Rebecca was previously Communications Director at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), where she coordinated communications across 20 agencies and offices, managed the Initiative’s national outreach across traditional and digital media platforms, and led media efforts for the historic White House Summit on AAPIs in 2015. Rebecca is also Co-founder and Managing Director of Act To Change, a national nonprofit working to end bullying in the AAPI community that began at WHIAAPI under Rebecca’s leadership.

Rebecca has served as a public affairs specialist at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she coordinated agency-wide messaging. She joined the federal government as a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF), selected from graduate programs across the country in 2011. As a PMF, Rebecca served as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and led national media strategy around the Affordable Care Act.

Rebecca holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a Master of Public Health from Columbia University. At Cornell, Rebecca led a diverse coalition to fund the Asian & Asian-American Center.

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Daniel L. Hong
Software Developer

Daniel Hong is currently an Associate Software Engineer for the University Technology Office (UTO) of Arizona State University. Originally from Southern California, Daniel attended and graduated from ASU in 2019 with a B.S in communication and served as the Vice President on the Hawai'i and Pacific Islander Club at ASU (HPIC).