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Cheryl Hirasa Named New Executive Director of Pacific Islanders in Communications

Posted on November 02, 2022

Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC) has named Cheryl Hirasa as its new Executive Director, serving the national media organization and their global collective of established and emerging content creators throughout Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and diaspora communities. This follows Hirasa’s previous appointment as PIC’s Interim Executive Director, after the death of Leanne K. Ferrer in 2021. 


As an impactful and well-rounded non-profit media executive, Hirasa first joined PIC in 2013 as the Director of Program Development & Content Strategy.  In 2019 she deepened her institutional stewardship when she was appointed PIC’s Managing Director & VP of Programs. During her tenure, Hirasa led operations and programmatic activities; working with titles including OUT OF STATE, FAMILY INGREDIENTS, POI E:  THE STORY OF OUR SONG, EVERY DAY IN KAIMUKĪ and WATERMAN – DUKE:  AMBASSADOR OF ALOHA as well as produced Pacific Heartbeat, PIC’s signature series on national public television.


Previous to joining PIC, Cheryl worked at the Independent Television Service (ITVS) for nine years and was a Senior Production Manager overseeing the development and completion of over 150 productions for public television broadcast.  She has more than 25 years of experience in the media industry and arts management and participated on a number of funding panels for various arts organizations.  Cheryl currently serves on the advisory board of Color Congress and is a grants advisor for the Redford Center.  


Leanne K. Ferrer left an indelible mark on Hawaiʻi and countless Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander media artists, as well as partners and collaborators across the film community. The legacy of her impact lives on in innumerable spaces: from Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), where she was Executive Director, to the Hawaiian Media Makers that she spearheaded, to her early years at PBS Hawai'i.  Leanne’s legacy lives on in the many people whom she cared for and nurtured. 


Cheryl is committed to continuing to grow PIC’s mission and carrying on Ferrer’s legacy of building community power for Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders in media.  This work started earlier this year by appointing Maluhia Kaimikaua as Director of Operations, and bringing on board Lowen Kainoa Rudolfo as Program Manager, Athena Taitingfong as Management & Programs Coordinator and Amber McClure as Digital Engagement Manager.  Together with Roann Gatdula (Communications Coordinator), PIC’s team will work on exciting new initiatives in the next year.


"We are excited to continue the PIC journey with Cheryl.” said Maluhia Kaimikaua, Director of Operations, “She shares a commitment to the artists that we serve, and the communities that we amplify.” 


As Executive Director, Hirasa will lead PIC with a particular focus on cultivating a thriving and prosperous Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander media making ecosystem, beginning with new initiatives that acknowledge artistic excellence and contributions to the field at the forthcoming Hawai‘i International Film Festival through sponsorship of the Leanne K. Ferrer Trailblazer Award presented by PIC (previously known as the PIC Trailblazer Award) and the Pasifika Award.  PIC will continue to expand its support in narrative feature films with an investment in MAKAWALU, a production of Hawai‘i International Film Festival with Executive Producers Anderson Le and Beckie Stocchetti.  Support for short feature films will continue with PICʻs partnership with ‘OHINA and their 2022 Labs.


“I’m truly honored to have been asked to be PIC’s Executive Director.”  Hirasa said. “PIC is the only organization in the country dedicated to amplifying stories that convey the richness and diversity of the Pacific Islander experience.  These stories serve as a bridge between communities and connect us all through the human experience.  Although I’m not of Pacific Islander descent, I am proud and grateful that I’m from Hawai‘i.  It’s part of my identity that helps me navigate through life and it’s the source of my passion and dedication to PIC and the people I work with and serve.”


About Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC):

Established in 1991, Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC) is the only national public media organization that supports media content and its makers to work together to promote a deeper understanding of Pacific Islander history, culture and contemporary issues that define our communities. PIC addresses the need for media content that reflects America’s growing ethnic and cultural diversity by funding independently produced films, and by providing hundreds of hours of innovative content by and about Pacific Islanders to American public television including its flagship series Pacific Heartbeat. PIC receives major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 


For more information about Pacific Islanders in Communications and Pacific Heartbeat, visit www.piccom.org | PIC Promo


Follow us on social media: 

Twitter: @PICpacific | facebook.com/piccom | Instagram: @picpacific | TikTok: @picpacific


About Pacific Heartbeat:

Now in its eleventh consecutive season, Pacific Heartbeat is an anthology series that provides viewers a glimpse of the real Pacific—its people, cultures, languages, music, and contemporary issues. From revealing exposés to rousing musical performances, the series features a diverse array of programs that will draw viewers into the heart and soul of Pacific Island culture.


About the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB):

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of nearly 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television, and related online services. For more information, visit www.cpb.org and follow us on Twitter @CPBmedia, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and subscribe for email updates.


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