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7th Annual International Women’s Leadership Conference [ Back ]

Tue 09/21/2010
Honolulu, HI
Speaking Event

7th Annual International Women’s Leadership Conference – speaking event on September 21 at 1:30 p.m. HST in Honolulu


Hawaii 7th Annual International Women's Leadership Conference on September 21, 2010

Conference Host

Photo of Linda Lingle
Governor Linda Lingle
State of Hawai`i


Photo of Pacita Juan
Pacita Juan

About the Conference

The 2010 IWLC provides participants a unique opportunity to network with the attendees and hear the inspirational stories of world-renowned guest speakers.

Throughout her travels, Governor Linda Lingle has met numerous inspirational women in key leadership roles all over the world. Wherever she goes, she has made a point to be a part of round-table discussions with these women leaders to better understand and learn from each other.

After one such meeting during a visit to Japan in 2003, Governor Lingle knew that the people of Hawai‘i deserved the same opportunity to come-together with female leaders from across the globe. A forum needed to be held to share with each other what successful women from all backgrounds, cultures, religions, and lifestyles were thinking and doing to positively impact our global community. This coming together of ideas, stories, and networking was brought to life for the first time in September of 2004.

The annual International Women’s Leadership Conference is now in its eighth year. Over the past seven years, the inspiring leadership from women all over the world has moved other aspiring women leaders in Hawai‘i to make their own mark on history and to leave a lasting legacy for future generations. Delegates leave feeling inspired and motivated while our speakers gain new perspectives from the Hawai‘i women they meet. The success of this conference continues to grow, making each event more exciting than the last.

Conference Schedule

7:30 am

General Conference Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30 am

Opening Ceremonies Honoring our Visiting Nations

8:45 am

Opening Remarks by Governor Linda Lingle

9:00 am

Remarks by Madam Li Xiaolin - China

As Vice-Chair of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Madam Li has launched and helped to finance many poverty relief projects, including a project to support poor and disabled students as they finish school; a vocational training program for laid-off women workers; English teacher training courses for China’s poverty-stricken areas; and sand control and water resource management projects.


9:45 am

Remarks by Jin Kyu Robertson – Korea and USA

Jin’s riveting story as a Korean factory girl who immigrated to America as a housemaid at age 22 with little English and $100 to her name is the embodiment of success. Through determination, imagination, and sheer will, she became a U.S. Army Major and graduated from Harvard with a Ph.D.  Her story has won the heart of Korea and now the U.S


10:30 am

Break – Opportunity for networking with conference delegates

Hosted coffee, tea and snack


10:45 am

Remarks by Lindsay Phillips – USA

As a high school student, Lindsay began to hone her entrepreneurial spirit. Upon founding SwitchFlops, the unconventional and infinitely versatile sandals with interchangeable strap designs, Lindsay applied for her first patent before graduating high school.


11:15 am

Remarks by Pacita Juan – Philippines

Pacita Juan has been in social development for 9 years now, starting with programs benefiting the Philippine Coffee industry. While looking for coffee she came across communities who made crafts that had no market access. This inspired her and her partners to look for a solution to this common but widespread problem. Further, she started campaigns on going organic and taking care of the environment. These further solidified the business plan that gave birth to ECHOstore.


12:00 pm

Networking Luncheon – Hosted by American Savings Bank

Including special menu items from around the world.


Luncheon Remarks by MacDella Cooper – Liberia

MacDella came to America in 1993, one of countless thousands of refugees of the Liberian civil war. Today, she works tirelessly through her foundation to attract international investors to Liberian markets and creating awareness of the plight of the Liberian children through her humanitarian initiatives.


1:30 pm

Remarks by Sister Rosemary – Uganda

St. Monica’s Tailoring School, operated by Sister Rosemary, houses a diverse group of refugees: former child soldiers, orphans, AIDS victims and young mothers, many of whom are former sexual slaves to the “Lord’s Resistance Army.” The school offers “child mothers” and their babies a safe haven so students can get jobs, feed their children and rebuild their lives.  A truly revolutionary system for reviving the lost souls of her homeland, Sister Rosemary has brought hope to the hopeless and is healing the wounds of war.


2:15 pm

Remarks by Her Excellency Dr. Ing Kantha Phavi - Cambodia

H.E. Dr. Ing Kantha Phavi was appointed Minister of Women’s Affairs in July 2004 following the formation of the new government. Prior to becoming Minister, Dr. Phavi served five years as Secretary of State of Women’s and Veterans’ Affairs, where she was responsible for elaborating gender-responsive policies, strategies and plans of action.


3:00 pm

Remarks and Performance by Rhonda Begos – USA

Rhonda Begos has been an entertainer since childhood. Rhonda has been an advocate for children’s and women’s rights as it relates to violations of the mind, body and spirit, and has been on a journey toward healing from her own experience and abuse that was suffered as a child. Her story will empower you to take control of your spirit in healing your whole self.


3:45 pm

Break – Opportunity for networking

4:15 pm

Remarks by Dr. Connie Mariano – USA

During her successful career in medicine, Eleanor “Connie” Mariano has racked up an impressive list of “firsts.”  Not only was she the first Filipino-American to become a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy, she also was the first female director of the White House Medical Unit, as well as the first military woman to be appointed as the White House Physician, providing medical service for two sitting presidents, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.


5:00 pm

Closing Remarks by Governor Linda Lingle

5:30 pm

Hosted closing Reception with conference speakers and attendees

(Conference Schedule Times Subject To Change)

Past Conference Pinay Speakers:

Loren Legarda, a senator of the 14th Congress of the Republic of the Philippines, is the first woman to occupy the post of majority leader.

After a 20-year career as a journalist, Legarda was elected to public office. She has championed environmental causes, entrepreneurship, protection of the rights of women and children, workers’ rights and sought to improve public health services.

Environmental issues have long been a priority for Legarda, and in 1998, she founded Luntiang Pilipinas to promote public awareness of environmental issues and to encourage joint efforts to find ways to address these problems. Since its inception, the organization has established hundreds of forest parks nationwide.

Her environmental efforts have earned her recognition from the World Economic Forum which, in 2000, named her a “global leader for tomorrow.” She was honored by the United Nations Environmental Program in 2001 as a UNEP Laureate and was included in the program’s Global 500 Roll of Honor.

She was also instrumental in the formation of the Senate Oversight Committee on Climate Change, which helps monitor and consolidate the government’s efforts towards mitigating the adverse effects of climate change. Those efforts led to her appointment as United Nations Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in the Asia Pacific.

Legarda’s speeches on climate change have been distributed to schools throughout the Philippines as part of an effort to increase awareness and get young people interested in environmental issues.

Loren is also a reserve officer in the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the rank of lieutenant colonel.


Cristeta Comerford

Columbia, Maryland, USA
Originally from Manila, Philippines
First female and first Filipino executive chef at the White House

Born in Manila, Philippines, Cristeta “Cris” Comerford now works in the most famous house in the United States of America. Ms. Comerford became the first female and Filipino White House Executive Chef in August of 2005. Her many responsibilities include designing and executing menus for state dinners, social events, holiday functions, receptions and official luncheons hosted by President and Mrs. Bush.

Trained in French classical techniques and specializing in ethnic and American cuisine, Ms. Comerford has worked as an Assistant Chef in the White House kitchen since 1995. She has helped develop inventive menus that showcased American foods and wines for special White House events including the State Dinner in honor of Her Excellency, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines; the Official Dinner in honor of His Excellency, Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of the Republic of India; and a social dinner in celebration of William Shakespeare's birthday.

Ms. Comerford received her bachelor's degree in Food Technology from the University of the Philippines and gained culinary experience serving as Chef Tournant at Le Ciel in Vienna, Austria; Chef at Le Grande Bistro at The Westin Hotel in Washington, D.C.; and Chef at The Colonnade at the ANA Hotel in Washington, D.C., where she implemented the "Culinary Arts Gallery" which showcased the best of American fine cuisine.

In addition, she collaborated with Chef John Ash to promote American game cooking and assisted and coordinated on the "East Meets West" promotion featuring the late Barbara Tropp. Ms. Comerford melds training received from institutions such as The Education Institute, American Hotel and Motel Association with experiences with some of the nation's most innovative chefs in the California wine country and San Francisco restaurants to produce original dishes with American flavor.

“Her passion for cooking can be tasted in every bite of her delicious creations.”
-First Lady Laura Bush commenting on the first female White House Executive Chef Cristeta “Cris” Comerford

“I cannot miss the chance to talk about one export that has risen to the top of her game and does the Philippines proud -- Cristeta Comerford, who is now the most visible chef in the world as the new Executive Chef for the White House in Washington, DC.
Congratulations, Cristeta!”
-President of the Philippines Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her speech during the National Export Congress 2005

Stephanie Castillo
Stephanie Castillo
Documentary Film-maker

A former Honolulu Star-Bulletin newspaper reporter and an EMMY Award-winning independent filmmaker, Stephanie has been developing television documentaries full-time since 1989. She holds an MBA (2000) from the University of Hawaii and was a 1999 Selected Professions Fellow with the American Association of University Women.

Her Honolulu-based production company, ‘Olena Productions, completed its first documentary -- the EMMY Award-winning SIMPLE COURAGE -- in 1992 as a co-production with Hawaii Public Television.

For the 2006 Centennial Celebration of Filipino Immigration to America, Stephanie presented three films. SANDAAN, a 90-minute documentary on 100 years of Filipino immigrants in America, premiered at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. Directed by her long-time filmmaking partner Noel "Sonny" Izon, the film is one of several joint efforts by Noel and Stephanie, who is the documentary's co-producer and co-writer. Premiered at the Hawaii International Film Festival was Stephanie’s 9th documentary, STRANGE LAND:MY MOTHER’S WAR BRIDE STORY. In 2005, also at the Hawaii International Film Festival, she had premiered REMEMBER THE BOYS, a portrait of a WWII veteran and chaplain to his war buddies.

In May 2005, AN UNTOLD TRIUMPH: THE STORY OF THE 1ST & 2ND FILIPINO INFANTRY REGIMENTS, U.S. ARMY, aired in national prime-time on PBS. Directed by Sonny Izon, Stephanie was the lead writer and associate producer. Narrated by actor Lou Diamond Phillips, it had its world premiere at the Hawaii International Film Festival on Nov.4, 2002 and won the BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO Audience Award for Best Documentary.

Completed in 2004 was AN UNCOMMON KINDNESS: THE STORY OF FATHER DAMIEN. Stephanie was co-director, co-writer and co-producer with Daniel Marra and Walter Josten. Actor Robin Williams narrates the piece. Distributed by Blue Rider Pictures in Los Angeles, the biography won a CINE Golden Eagle.

COCKFIGHTERS: THE INTERVIEWS, an 8-hour DVD/VHS seriesssss was completed in 2003. The controversial project explores the subculture of cockfighting from the point of view of American cockfighters. A two-hour version had its world premiere at the Cinema Paradise Film Festival in Honolulu in 2003.

In 2004, she co-produced a cable television series, HAWAII’S REEL STORIES, that featured the works of local filmmakers.

Stephanie continues to research and seek funding for TREASURED ABOVE GOLD, a project now ten years in the making. It will tell the remarkable story of the historic connections between Korea and Japan through the story of abducted Korean potters and Korean teabowls used in Japanese tea ceremony.

Currently in editing is FROM THE FIRE, a short film on Korean contemporary ceramics.

She also produces marketing and sales videos.

Conference Moderator (2007-2008)

Vivian Aiona
Vivian Aiona


When Mrs. Vivian Aiona was 19 years old, she met her future husband, Lt. Governor Duke Aiona, at a dance in Waikiki. Four years later, in September 1981, they were married.

Mrs. Aiona has embraced her public role as wife of Hawai`i's Lieutenant Governor, continuing her strong, active service to the families and communities of Hawai`i.

She often reads to elementary and middle school children and remains active in faith-based work. She assists grief-stricken families as the bereavement coordinator at her church before, during and after the funeral ceremony.

She's a leading voice for humanitarian missions of the Salvation Army in Hawai`i as a member of its advisory board. And she is working to educate pregnant women to refrain from drinking alcohol as a member of the Fetal Alcohol Task Force.


About VivianRounding out her schedule are talks at civic events, where Mrs. Aiona appeals to women influenced by the twin pressures of career and family.


With her, privacy is prized, and family sticks close to home. As a mother of four, being honest, having faith and living healthy are paramount values instilled in her children.

Mrs. Aiona grew up the youngest of five children in a working-class family from Honolulu, where she graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1976.

Her father was a Navy sailor from Boston. In Hawai`i, he met and married Vivian's mother, whose family arrived from Cebu in the Philippines.

Those who meet Mrs. Aiona are quick to point out her graciousness and humility.

Inspired by the hearing-impaired mother of a childhood friend, she studied sign language at Honolulu Community College.

In 2002, she retired from Air Canada after 25 years of service to become a full partner in helping her husband serve the public.

"We thought long and hard about the decision before we made it," Mrs. Aiona said. "Through it all, my biggest responsibility hasn't changed - raising our children to be good citizens in the community."

Additional info about the Conference:

Mentorship Opportunities

Hawai‘i’s youth will determine the future of our state. It is our obligation to help inspire them while providing the tools needed to compete in the global economy. To achieve this goal, Governor Lingle will host the 2009 International Women’s Leadership Conference and is encouraging the participation of young women - and men - from around the state.

Business leaders and residents across the state are stepping forward to provide students with the tools they need. You and your business can too.

By hosting a student at the sixth annual International Women’s Leadership Conference, you are supporting the expansion of knowledge, ideas and leadership in our community and investing in the future leadership of Hawai‘i, the nation, and the world.


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