He ʻolina leo
kā ke aloha
A joyousness is in the voice of love
Leanne Ferrer exuded aloha not just through her voice but in all she did. Her small thoughtful gestures coupled with her huge heart made a positive impact on everyone she met. Her endearing spirit lives on in the hearts she touched as a daughter, sister, mother, wife, niece, cousin and friend.
A life too short yet filled with so many memories. In Leanne's time with us here in this realm, she lived life to the fullest as evidenced through her many experiences and accomplishments. But most telling of a life well- lived is in it's relationships. Leanne touched the lives of countless individuals whether just for a minute or throughout a lifetime. Full of happiness, she naturally spread joy to others as well. While life was not always easy for her, she chose to focus on the positive while always putting the needs of others before her own. Here are some highlights of her journey . . .
Born to Michelle Minhoto and Ronald Kang, Leanne spent her early years going between the Waianae coast and the ahupuaʻa of Kailua with her grandparents Ernest and Ellen Lee. Growing up, she would holoholo everywhere with her Papa and Grandma and throughout her grown life always took care of them. Raised jointly as the youngest child of her grandparents and the oldest child of her parents, she had three siblings, Megan, Kekoa and Keola. Leanne was the first born grandchild on both sides. She was a natural born leader of her generation.
The Gift of Education
At six years of age, Leanne enrolled at Kamehameha Schools where she attended for the next 13 years until her graduation in 1985. During her years at Kapālama, she participated in the many school traditions including Song Contest. She reveled in the accomplishments of her class "sweeping" or winning all the awards for both Junior and Senior year! It was also here that she formed lifelong relationships with best friends Chris Laumauna and Kaulana Furtado.
After high school, she furthered her studies at Leeward Community College (LCC). Then she transferred to University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and received a degree in Speech and a minor in Political Science. While in college, she gained her first experience working in video as a student hire at KHET (now known as PBS Hawaiʻi).
Frank & Leanne
While at LCC, Leanneʻs life would be forever changed because of a runny nose. Her soon-to-be husband, Frank recalls taking a Communications class with her and constantly sniffling because of a runny nose. “She came and gave me tissues and thatʻs how we met.” recalls Frank. They continued in the program together and then both worked at KHET and later KHON.
They also both shared the same sense of humor and chose April Foolʻs Day 1995 as their wedding date.
He pūkoʻa kani ʻāina.
A coral reef grows into an island.
A person beginning in a small way gains steadily until they become firmly established
Leanne's early experiences at KHET (PBS Hawai'i) and KHON in video production both ENG and EFP established her technical foundation. She ran the production control room for the live news and while she could perform all crew positions, her favorite was switcher. Eventually she ventured into the production offices of several Hollywood films shooting on location in Hawaiʻi including George of the Jungle and Escape from Atlantis. These experiences led her to Pacific Focus (1013), a local production house, where she served as a freelance Producer and Production Coordinator.
During her time at Pacific Focus, she forged professional relationships which soon transformed to personal friendships with Jason Suapaia, Jeff Katts, Lance Holden, Nalani Kealaiki, Charlyn Masini, Ken Sato, BBJ, Dave Sato, Ryan Kawamoto, Tobias Huber, Karen Kau and many others.
She also met her creative/producing partner, Leah Kihara through Pacific Focus. Together they embarked on their first production, the award winning "i scream, floats and Sundays." This Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC) funded short film motivated them to create their own production company, Punk Productions, LLC
SERVING THE COMMUNITY
Soon after, Leanne realized her passion to serve her community and transitioned to working at Nānākuli Housing / Baseyard Hawaiʻi, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring affordable housing and home ownership a possibility for all with a focus on Native Hawaiians. While working here as a Marketing Director, she mentored under community stalwarts Paige Barber and Marlene Among.
In 2008, Leanne broadened her non-profit experience as a Program Manager at Pacific Islanders in Communication (PIC), a non-profit media arts organization committed to supporting, advancing and developing Pacific Island media content and talent that results in a deeper understanding of Pacific Island history and culture.
A VISIONARY LEADER
After five years, Leanne ascended to the role
of Executive Director of PIC in 2013. She navigated PIC into a new era through her visionary direction. She expanded Pacific Islander opportunities and ensured authentic voices to tell the stories of the Pacific. She supported countless filmmakers, up and coming as well as established veterans including Heather Giugni who referred to Leanne as her cheerleader, "She cheered us all on. She was the Mama of our far-reaching film family. She gave us opportunities and in her Leanne way nudged us towards them in case we didn't recognize it."
Beyond the shores of Hawaiʻi, she emanated the urgency for these stories to be shared and solidified a place at the table for Pacific Islanders. While in this role, she created and executive produced award winning programming for public and local broadcast. She achieved these accomplishments through the support and dedication of her staff, Cheryl Hirasa, Maluhia Kaimikaua and Roann Gatdula as well as her previous staff, Caleigh Dillon, Amber McClure, Jade Villanueva, Remington Kawood and Ianeta Leʻi. Maluhia shares "Leanne knew how to build people up and bring people together. She had compassion for everyone and knew the importance of working together as our ancestors did."
Her work impacted beyond PIC to boost other organization as she served as the previous Board President for Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking, founding member and advisory board member of the Hawaiian Media Makers and the Hawaiʻi Film Foundation at Nuʻumealani. She spearheaded the Hawaiʻi Media Makers Conference and was currently working on the Hawaiian Media Makers Website and Database as well as a Hawaiian Handbook for Media Protocol.
2005 Kaʻiulani 2011 Keolalaʻi
Perhaps her most important role was that as a mother to her two children, Kaʻiulani and Keolalaʻi. She embraced this role as a devoted, supportive and fun mom. Upon Kaʻiulaniʻs birth, she decided to take time off to seize the opportunity to engage as a full-time mom to raise her first child. These years were filled with baby music lessons, movement classes, Keiki o Ka ʻĀina educational programs and countless play dates.
Even with a demanding career, Leanneʻs children were her guiding stars. She always lived in the moment and made every minute count knowing the precious gift she shared with her children . . . her time. They inspired and motivated her as a mother, a community member and a leader.
Her legacy lives on not just in her children, but in each and every one of us. Her light continues to radiate and guide us to continue the work she started. Together we celebrate her and share in the joy of Leanne.