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2009 Person of the Year Finalists

The Maui Weekly spotlights Person of the Year nominees who have made important contributions to our island commmunity.

December 31, 2009
Sarah Ruppenthal

Mahina Martin
Public Information Officer for Maui County
It’s 3:45 a.m., and Mahina Martin’s cell phone is ringing. While many of us would muffle the phone with a pillow and drift back to asleep, Mahina springs into action. When her phone rings any time of the day or night, she knows it’s important—she is responsible for informing Maui’ County’s residents of any “breaking news,” including brush fires, water main breaks, power outages, flash flood warnings and sewage spills—just to name a few. And if you try to list Mahina’s duties as Maui County’s Public Information Officer (in any particular order), it will very likely leave you breathless.

“I’m on the clock 24 hours a day,” she revealed to me at a meeting one afternoon. It sounds exhausting, but it’s obvious Mahina loves her job—and according to our sources, she’s good at it, too.

According to Assistant Public Information Officer (and fellow Person of the Year Nominee) Lois Bisquera, “Mahina is passionate about the people, places and cultural history of Maui. She has worked hard to increase the flow of information from the county to the community and amongst agencies, businesses and organizations.” And on top of it all, she has the energy to wake up at dawn for her favorite pastime—paddling.

Article Photos

Our Person of the Year finalists contribute much to Maui.

For more than six years, Mahina served as race director for high school outrigger paddling regattas and the Maui Interscholastic League. Additionally, she volunteers as a rules committee member and judge for the Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association (HHAA). Her passion for the sport is unfailing.

In a “Viewpoint” published in The Maui News on Jan. 25, she wrote, “I ku mau mau, Maui! In all we do to help our youth succeed—it must be together.”

Those words, “I ku mau, mau,” which mean “stand together,” represents Mahina’s guiding philosophy in life, which is why she was nominated as Maui Weekly’s 2009 Person of the Year.

Lois Bisquera
Assistant Public Information Officer for Maui County
If you’ve taken a ride on the Maui Bus lately, you may have noticed a “traveling exhibit” of laminated prints displayed within the fleet of vehicles. Among the visually stunning treasures featured on these mobile art galleries is a series of nature photographs taken by freelance photographer and writer Lois Bisquera.

Since 2007, Lois has served as the Assistant Information Officer for Maui County, a full-time job that carries a fairly intense workload, but one that she seems to handle effortlessly—and always with a smile. Her love for photography flourished when she was a young girl growing up in Kula, where she discovered the natural beauty of the island through the lens of a camera—a childhood hobby that has evolved into a bona fide talent.

Her work caught the eye of award-winning Maui photographer Randy Jay Braun, who said, “Lois knows how to work a camera; both in front of, and behind the lens. I photographed her as a model for a project years ago, and her bubbly personality shined through in every shot.” And during the 2009 Maui Photo Festival in Kā‘anapali, he said, “Lois sat in a couple of my classes as a student. Her knowledge as a working photographer has blossomed beautifully, because photography has always been a passionate hobby of hers.” And of course, her boss hasn’t overlooked her talents, either.

“I’m very fortunate to have such an outstanding staff member like Lois,” said Mayor Charmaine Tavares. “Her artistic eye brings a totally new look and professional approach to producing government materials and publications… her work [helps] bridge the public’s need for information and local government’s ability to provide effective ways to do so.”

Stacey Moniz
Executive Director, Women Helping Women Maui
Stacey Moniz is a survivor—and as executive director of Women Helping Women (WHW), she has become a champion to countless other survivors of physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

In addition to caring for the women and children who seek refuge in WHW’s shelters, Stacey is an outspoken advocate for justice, equity and safety for all victims of domestic violence. Her commitment to the agency extends far beyond her administrative duties as executive director—she is a beacon of hope for those in need.

According to Maui AIDS Foundation Executive Director Keith Wolter, “Stacey has a passion and eloquence for preventing and ending domestic violence that is of the highest quality. She puts her heart and mind, body and soul into her work. And the most amazing thing is that she does it all with a gleam in her eye and laughter on her lips. Her love of life is undying.”

Upcountry Maui Boys & Girls Club Director Lisa Rodrigues, who has known Stacey since they were in junior high school, said, “She is an incredible human being… she gives so much, without expecting anything in return.”

In addition to her role as director of Women Helping Women, Stacey is also a devoted friend, sister, mother of two—and a diehard fan of the University of Oregon Ducks Football Team.



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