Leading Women

Priscilla Badua, superviser with the state Department of Human Services, along with kumu hula Leina’ala Pavao Jardin and county managing director Nadine Nakamura will be honored at the YWCA’s Na Wahine Alakai Women’s Leadership Award dinner Saturday evening

The YWCA is committed to empowering women, and this weekend, for the first time, it will pay special tribute to three exceptionally inspiring women at its 2014 Annual Na Wahine Alakai Women’s Leadership Award Dinner.

Priscilla Gubaton Badua, Leina’ala Pavao Jardin and Nadine Nakamura will be recognized as role models for their positive influences in the community.

“I feel like there are so many women out there who deserve to be recognized for their kokua to the community,” Jardin says humbly. The kumu hula for Halau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leina’ala from Kalaheo has nearly 200 students, mostly female, who regard her as a mentor. She graduated with a major in communications and a minor in Hawaiian studies from the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Her halau has had much success throughout the years, receiving several accolades, including from the Queen Liliuokalani Keiki Hula Competition and the Merrie Monarch Festival.

“This award is almost like a realization that I have a big kuleana to my students and to those in the community who look to me for guidance,” she says.

Mary Ann Pavao, Jardin’s mother, always encouraged her daughter to reach for the stars and inspire others with aloha.

“What makes a good leader is someone who leads with aloha and respect for everyone around them,” says Jardin. “Through my eyes, I look with love and respect. That way, you gain respect from others, which propels you to become a leader.”

Badua accepts her award on behalf of her predecessors who paved the leadership way.

“You receive this kind of award not getting to where you’re at alone,” she says. “I receive this reward on behalf of so many people. It’s not just me who will be up there.”

There were many people who supported Badua throughout her life, including her father, Alfredo Gubaton, who played an active role in the ILWU. She recalls riding with him in their Jeep while he announced upcoming meetings to the Kaumakani plantation community, where she grew up.

“I feel so honored because I’m following in his footsteps, but as a female,” says Badua, who’s involved in a number of organizations, including Hawaii Government Employees Association.

Growing up on the Westside was fun for her, but at the same time, it was an era when women took the backseat and men led the way.

“You never saw women in the workforce – they were at home raising children, cooking, washing clothes,” recalls Badua, a Waimea High School graduate.

A trendsetter for her generation, Badua graduated from California State University, Fresno with a degree in social welfare. She moved back to the island and began working for the state Department of Human Services, where she still is employed.

“Women in leadership positions are really important,” says Badua.

Participating in politics is something she wishes more women would do to help effect change in areas such as equal pay.

“It’s time for a change,” she asserts.

One woman who has played a politically active role in the community for a number of years is Nakamura, managing director for the County of Kauai.

“Women bring different insights and approaches to problem-solving, which I believe is more inclusive,” says Nakamura, who says she is humbled by her YWCA recognition. “We need more women at the decision-making and policy-making table because it will lead to more thoughtful, pragmatic solutions that will benefit our island community.”

Nakamura brought many of her progressive ideas to the county table when she served on the council. She chaired the Planning Committee, and was vice chairwoman for the Finance and Economic Development Committee.

By recognizing successful women such as Jardin, Badua and Nakamura, the YWCA continues its mission to not just protect women from domestic violence, but to help them create a better life for themselves and their families.

“Believe,” replies Jardin when asked to share one piece of advice for women.

“Whatever you decide to do, believe in it, believe you can do it and put your mind to it and attain it. Don’t prepare for failure; prepare for success.”

“But don’t get discouraged by failure,” adds Badua. “It should, I hope, build character for you to be strong, to have self-confidence that’s needed to get ahead. Don’t stop at failure; just keep going.”

Hear more of what the 2014 Na Wahine Alakai Leadership Award honorees have to say Saturday (May 31) from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott at Coconut Beach in Kapaa. Visit ywcakauai.org/kauai-events/womens-leadership-award for more information.