- Chief Advocate for the State of Hawaii’s Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Kawika Riley is the Chief Advocate for the State of Hawaii’s Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is an independent Hawaii State agency established to improve the lives of the Native Hawaiian people.
As OHA’s Chief Advocate, Kawika directs the agency’s Advocacy department, which includes five programs and nearly 30 staff. Before returning to Hawaii, he managed OHA’s federal advocacy as its Washington DC Bureau Chief – and office where he first served as an intern while attending GWU’s Graduate School of Political Management.
Prior to returning to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Riley worked in senior positions within the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. At the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration, he was the key spokesman to the foreign press, Mid-Atlantic media, and as part of the counterterrorism agency’s national press team.
Before that, he spent over three years running the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs’ communications shop, at which time Congress passed the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and various other reforms for veterans, servicemembers, and their families. In addition to rising to the position of communications director, Kawika also worked in the Senate as a legislative assistant and director of constituent affairs. Kawika is also the founder of the Pacific Islander Access project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation dedicated to improving Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander access to higher education.