Fellow: Lolofi Olo Soakai
Seed Lab Cohort: 2020/2021
Location: Inland Empire, CA
Brought up in a family that has been a pillar of support in their Tongan community in Ontario (CA) since 1970s and constantly channeling their culture as a way to both connect with one another and also educate about their culture and traditions, Lolofi’s life-work is to empower her community. As a first-generation Tongan American, Lolofi has tirelessly advocated on behalf of the under-represented Pacific Islanders and the community of Tongans in the city of Ontario and successfully gained the support of various stakeholders in the Inland Empire from local and state institutions, to foundations and academic centers.
Lolofi founded MALO (“Thank you” in the Tongan language) to empower the Tongan community by providing access to opportunities to improve their livelihoods, increase their role and visibility in the environments they are part of and celebrate their culture as well as developing a model for other Pacific-Islander peer groups to adopt to meet similar goals.