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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Akakū Staff


Jay April

President and CEO

Jay April has served as President/ CEO of Akakū since January 2007, and has previously served on Akakū’s Board of Directors from 2001 to October 2006. Mr. April is a television producer, director, video journalist and artist whose work has been featured on many national networks and won awards from film festivals worldwide. Credits include special correspondent to CNN’s Environmental Unit, the TODAY Show on NBC and the much acclaimed PBS series, The 90s. He was responsible for the successful start up of E! Entertainment Television as a founding producer, and he has produced, directed, written and shot hundreds of television segments and commercial spots in a variety of genres. His documentaries about ecology and American culture have been called, “prolific and passionate” by The Wall Street Journal, “poignant” by the LA Weekly, and “provocative” by The Los Angeles Times.

In recent years, Mr. April has specialized in documentaries about Hawaiian culture, and he has been exploring the parameters of emerging digital video tools to make ground-breaking new media. He is currently developing strategic partnerships with talented video and internet era veterans to launch a first wave artist-in-residence television station to debut on the worldwide web.

Mr. April is an experienced national cable television consultant with a specialty in telecommunications policy, cable regulation and community programming. Clients have included the State of Connecticut, the City of Los Angeles, municipalities, non-profits, universities, and cable television companies. He brings eight years of managerial and administrative experience in PEG access; and he is one of the pioneers of the PEG access concept in the United States and a founding member of the Alliance for Community Media.

Awards include Hawaii International Film Festival (1999) San Francisco International Film Festival (1992, 1993), Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (1993), American Film Institute National Video Festival (1980, 1991), Sony Visions of US (1993), Jackson Hole International Wildlife Film Festival (1993), International Wildlife Film Festival (1992, 2001), Advertising Club of New York City (1997) and a National Cable Ace Nomination (1989).

April has taught courses in video for social change at Yale University. He holds a B.A. in English and Education with a minor in Theatre Arts from Boston College. He also took graduate courses in Television Production at University of Connecticut.

Terrie Roberts

Administrative Director

As a long time Kama’aina, Terrie has a large extended family in Hawaii raising her son and daughter in Kula and  became a “Tutu” in January of 2010.  
In 1987, Terrie became a partner in Sunset Tropicals, a company that ships exotic tropicals and protea throughout Hawaii, the mainland and sometimes abroad.  Terrie began working at Akaku as a part time Executive Administrative Assistant in July of 2008.  
In her “spare time?”, Terrie enjoys playing tennis in the USTA Hawaii League with a 3.5 rating and also loves being a team player with all the staff members of Akakū.

Suki Halevi

Director of Development

Suki Halevi, Akakū’s Director of Development, is dedicated to community outreach and working together with Maui organizations, agencies and funders in Hawai'i and beyond.  Suki also assists with organizational development and strategic planning, and acts as special counsel to Akakū. Suki is a certified Akaku community producer; her first piece covered the Hawaii Supreme Court's live hearing on a constitutional case, in front of an audience of students from seven Maui high schools.

Suki is a member of the bar of Hawai'i and Massachusetts, has been a community consultant with Pasifika Foundation Hawai’i, is a coordinator for the Maui Film Festival at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, and teaches Sunday School at Congregation Beit Shalom in Kihei.

As an attorney, Suki has argued First Amendment cases before the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Before arriving on Maui in 2007, Suki worked for a law firm that specializes in employee-owned businesses and for the Cooperative Fund of New England.  Suki has facilitated consensus decision-making with non-profit organizations in transition, completed a green renovation of a 1930s Craftsman bungalow, and enjoyed being part of a local homeschooling community.  Suki graduated from Vassar College, has a master’s degree from Tufts University and graduated with honors from Duke University School of Law.

Shawn Michael

Programming Director

Shawn Michael has been with Akaku since 2002 and is currently the most senior employee on staff. He began in the Production Department of Akakū, shooting County Council Meetings, live shows, events, and editing. For the last several years heʻs been working in the Programming Dept. as a Programmer; creating schedules and maintaining the broadcast library. In 2013, he became Director of Programming with plans to make enhancements to the visual presence of our channels.

"I see Akaku's mission to ʻempower the community's voice through access to mediaʻ as the first and foremost mission we have as a non-profit," said Michael. Michael plans to expand this mission to not only empower the community's voice via video, but empowering voices from all types of communication including Twitter, Facebook, blogs, pictures, Instagram and whatever else becomes the norm in daily life.  

He plans to create dynamic ways to incorporate the communityʻs voice not only through the videos they create but by converting as much of the broadcast as he can into Social Network TV.  This will empower the community to control the images and messages upon the screen without the need, and sometimes technical burden, of "creating a video".  He also plans to have as much live and real-time content broadcast on the channel as possible, utilizing the many tools and feeds available to everyone.

"Akaku is that unique blazing star that Maui County's community would be at a loss and lesser without," Michael expressed.

Sayble Bissen

Director of Production

Sayble was born and raised on Maui and attended Kamehameha Schools Maui. She recently graduated from Santa Clara University with a BA in Communication and is hoping to earn a Master's Degree in the near future. Sayble was looking to gain some experience/knowledge with television and production which led her  to Akaku where she was thrust into the action right away. "I hope to someday get a taste of the television/movie industry. If that doesn't work out my second choice as an astronaut shouldn't be too tough. Fly me to the moon." She also had the greatest opportunity to travel to countries around the Mediterranean and ever since she has the travel bug and really hopes to be able to see more of the world in the future.


Kat Tracy

Director of Education

Kat Tracy is Director of Akaku’s innovative new media youth program, YBEAM, (Youth Broadband Education Awareness and Mentoring). Kat developed the YBEAM curriculum that leads to becoming a Certified Youth Mobile Journalist and she facilitates the month long program throughout Maui Nui. Kat also maintains the program site, that hosts the YBEAM program content and their community stories produced by program youth. Kat continues to be instrumental in beta testing both the VeriTV and VeriLocal video hosting sites developed by leading new media journalism pioneers VeriCorder. Furthering the research and work of YBEAM, Kat looks forward to helping Akaku integrate mobile journalism tools and workflow into the greater community, expanding the organizations mission to empowering Maui’s voice through access to media.

Kat’s freelance video production company, Kat Tracks Hawaii, has been in business since 2000. Kat has worn a variety of hats as a supporting crewmember on numerous movie and TV productions, both Nationally and Internationally. Kat produced two award-winning documentaries, “Passing the Gift” and “The Road to Hana Clean-Up”.  Kat also served as the Media Director for the Professional Kiteboard Riders Association until 2005, writing press releases and sending video content worldwide. Additionally, Kat taught media production skills to Maui youth through the Paia Youth and Cultural Center’s ‘Venture Media’ program.

Kat has a degree in Electronic Technology Engineering with a minor in Communications. Kat has been on Maui since 1988 and came to Hawaii to learn more about her mother’s Hawaiian roots and to learn to surf, windsurf and kite. Kat has successfully raised three daughters.

Stephen Luksic

Technical Director

Stephen Luksic has been a freelance editor and video technician on Maui Since 1994. He designed and executed multimedia shows all over the world. He came to Maui after 5 years with The American Film Institute. The first 3 years he was the Video Operations Coordinator at the Sony Video Center, which produced over 150, thirty minute student films a year. During his last two years at the AFI he was Technical Director for the Advanced Technology Programs where he managed a media lab with 20 workstations and 30 software applications associated with filmmaking. He was introduced to Interactive video design and production in 1985 and was part of an award winning team. At age 17 he was Assistant Director at WHYY -TV 12 in Philadelphia

Dan Emhof

Molokai Media Center Director

Daniel Emhof is the director of the Akakū: Molokai Media Center. He has been honing his media skills through dedicated service to the people of Molokai since 2004. Serving to empower the Molokai community with video literacy training, cultural productions, coverage of local governance, and community building outreach projects. "Working at Akakū has filled my world with possibilities and opportunities. Possibilities to learn new skills every day, and opportunities to help make the place I live better every day".

Chivo Ching-Johnson


Chivo joined Akaku as Productions Specialist in August 2008, bringing to the team extensive experience in radio and video media, but it is not his first time with the organization. More than a dozen years ago, he helped build Akaku from the ground up by piloting government access television for Maui County. His career in multimedia began more than 15 years ago as a radio newscaster. After years of writing radio copy, he learned that it translated well into scripting and storyboarding, leading his career from voice only to combined imagery of video production. Video credits include: Cameraman for E! Entertainment, CNN, NBC, CBS, ESPN, FOX, Extreme Sports, Mercedes Championship in Kapalua, Maui, Inside Edition, and Entertainment Tonight. Produced and Co-produced several documentary films. On Maui, Chivo ran his own video production business, specializing in event videography that focused on weddings, conventions, network news, documentary films, voice-overs, and narration. He has produced more than 1,500 weddings in the past 6 years and is a creative editor proficient in digital post production. Chivo is schooled in telecommunications and has taken numerous classes and seminars in digital production and editing. He has also completed four separate specialty tracks offered by University of Southern California and The Hawaii Film Initiative.


Dana Fulton 

Production Specialist

Born on Maui and raised in Kihei, Dana Fulton graduated Kihei Charter High School in 2009. She went on to enroll at Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, CA at the age of 17. In January 2010, she went on a filmmaking trip with 12 other students to Sao Paulo, Brazil to investigate the Japanese-Brazilian immigration. That summer she got an internship at Akakū: Maui Community Television and continued returning to Akakū; the summers thereafter. In the spring of 2012, Dana did asemester abroad in Barcelona, Spain, completing a cross-culturalcomparison study of the native Hawaiians and the native Catalonian peoplewhich earned her special recognition by her Catalonian professors. Uponher return to Akakū; that summer, Dana decided to pursue community
television work post-graduation and added extracurriculars to her schedule in her senior year to include social networking classes, a media communications course, website building, and a grant writing course. Dana graduated in May 2013 from Soka University of America with her bachelors degree in Social Behavioral Sciences and has proudly
joined the Akakū production team.

Linda Dorset

Production Specialist

Linda and her son took a couple of classes at Akakū in hopes of steering the son to a career; linda got hooked.  Linda started spicing up her boring years at various boring clerical jobs by producing Pet Files, a show for the Maui Humane Society and later lucked into a position with Akakūʻs production department. Linda has spent many exciting hours in the control room at the County building capturing the drama of the council meetings.


Peter King

Maui Facility Coordinator

Peter graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a degree in
communication and video production. He has worked on the Morning Show on
KHON channel 2, along with Olelo Oahu community television and the UH
Media lab as an equipment technician. Peter manages the front desk and is
responsible for all equipment used by the public, and films many local and
community events on Maui.


Shanti Berg

Education Specialist

Shanti Berg has been a freelance television and video producer on the island of Maui since 1998.  He has travelled extensively and gained international television experience producing shows for professional sports organizations throughout the world.  His work has aired on networks such as Eurosport, Sky News Network, Telemundo, Fox Sports, TNN and many more.  Currently Shanti is pursuing a Bachelor of Applied Science degree at University of Hawaii Maui College in Sustainable Science Management. This gives Shanti a unique perspective on television production and new media development in our island state.

Ruhi Moran

Molokaʻi Community Outreach and Education Coordinator

Ruhi Moran has been telling stories through video, collaborating with grassroots organizations, and teaching media literacy for more than 15 years. Ruhi got her start in production by working on major motion pictures and independent films after graduating from the University of California, San Diego with a double major in Visual Arts Media and Biological Anthropology. Ruhi is currently serving as Akaku's Community Outreach and Education Coordinator on Molokai. She enjoys practicing hula, learning Hawaiian, and volunteering at the youth center.


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