University of Hawaii

MMS Faculty

Maenette Kape‘ahiokalani Padeken Ah Nee-Benham, Ph.D.

I begin by giving thanks to my kūpuna and mākua whose mana and wisdom grounds my soul.
I give thanks to my husband, Robert Benham and children, Ka‘imi and Kiana, who remind me that this is a wonderful world, a joyous life, and hugs should be freely given.
I give thanks to my extended ‘ohana a me na hoa who fill me with bliss everyday of my life.
I give thanks to akua who sustains my passions and makes my commitment possible.

Professor Maenette Benham is Dean, Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.  Maenette began her education career teaching K/1 in the Bay Area, California, followed by teaching grades 3/4 and 7-12 in Texas and Hawai‘i schools. During her 15-year preK-12 career, she had the opportunity to serve as a curriculum specialist, elementary school administrator, and regional-level administrator.  She joined the College of Education faculty at Michigan State University in 1993, where she built a strong base of inquiry that centered on: (a) the nature of engaged and collective educational leadership across diverse communities and organizations; (b) the praxis of social justice envisioned and enacted by educational leaders; (c) the value of systems knowledge in the work of building collective leadership; and (d) the effects of educational policy on vulnerable communities. 

Dr. Benham’s work on alternative frames of leadership and issues of education is nationally and internationally respected. She is the lead author of numerous articles on these topics, and has published several books: Culture and Educational Policy in Hawai‘i:  The Silencing of Native Voices (Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers), Let My Spirit Soar!  The Narratives of Diverse Women in School Leadership (Corwin Press), Indigenous Educational Models for Contemporary Practice: In Our Mother’s Voice, Volume I (Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers), Indigenous Educational Models for Contemporary Practice: In Our Mother’s Voice, Volume II (Routledge), The Renaissance of American Indian Higher Education: Capturing the Dream (Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers), and most recently, the monograph Kellogg Leadership for Community Change: Crossing Boundaries, Strengthening Communities (W.K. Kellogg Foundation). As Dean of Hawai‘inuiakea she has established the Hawai‘inuiākea Series.

Her passion and commitment to healthy and sustainable learning environments for native/indigenous learners and their families is grounded on the motto she has lived her life by, “No laila, e kūlia i ka nu ‘u kākou a pau!”

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