Maui nonprofit specialist Kelly McHugh was honored as one of Hawai‘i’s “40 Under 40” future leaders during a celebratory event on June 8 at the Sheraton Waikiki. The event, sponsored by Pacific Business News, recognized exceptional business and community leaders in the state of Hawai‘i.
McHugh, the new marketing manager at the Pacific Whale Foundation, is best known for her work with the Hui No‘eau Visual Arts Center and the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission.
In 2008, McHugh began overseeing the marketing, fundraising and youth arts programs at the Hui. She led the Maui Mural Project in collaboration with the County of Maui. The resulting art – the Na Wai Eha mural located on the corner of Market and Main Street in Wailuku – was executed during a two-week residency by professional muralist Eric Okdeh.
Okdeh has created more than 200 murals throughout his career and said the Wailuku mural was one of the most intense projects he has developed and painted. “I’ve never worked with anyone like Kelly McHugh,” Okdeh said. “In only 2 weeks, we put together a year’s worth of research and community feedback into one painting that was physically created by hundreds of artists, keiki, carpenters, community movers and shakers and everyone in between, all under Kelly’s tenacious leadership.”
McHugh is also known for her work with KIRC, where she was recruited to run all fund development, communications and outreach initiatives. “The Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission needed to establish new means of sustaining its mission to restore Kaho‘olawe,” said Executive Director Michael K. Naho‘opi‘i about recruiting McHugh. “KIRC was seeking a unique combination of grant writing and public outreach with an artistic eye, which we found when we recruited Kelly McHugh in 2013.”
Naho‘opi‘i said not only was McHugh key in developing their mandated financial self-sustainability plan, but also established a successful agency-wide grant winning process and membership campaign. “Her creativity and technical capabilities makes this award a fitting one, for her time with the KIRC has allowed our agency to reach a broader and more engaged constituency to help support our future efforts,” Naho‘opi‘i said.
County of Maui Deputy Planning Director and KIRC Chairperson Michele Chouteau McLean nominated McHugh for the 40 Under 40 award. McLean said McHugh should be recognized for her outstanding leadership and tireless efforts in raising awareness of KIRC’s restoration, history and culture, as well as raising critical funds to continue related volunteer activities.
“Within McHugh’s first year… program grants increased from $14,700 to $193,300, and charitable contributions increased from $3,300 (17 donors) to $49,900 (481 donors),” McLean said.
Photo courtesy of Kelly McHugh