MEDB announces first awards from the Jeanne Unemori Skog Leader and Entrepreneur Fund

Oct 4, 2018

In June 2017, after 33 years of serving Maui County through the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), Jeanne Unemori Skog stepped down as President & CEO. To recognize and honor her achievements, MEDB’s Board of Directors created the perpetual Jeanne Unemori Skog Leader & Entrepreneur Fund (JUS) on August 11, 2017. The Fund will support the next generation of visionaries through innovative programs, projects, and other initiatives that develop future leaders and entrepreneurs to benefit the people of Maui County.
Ryan Churchill, Chair of MEDB’s Board of Directors said, “For her years of exemplary service as MEDB’s former President and CEO, Jeanne was awarded MEDB’s highest honors, the prestigious Colin C. Cameron Award, and a new Fund established in her name. Throughout her tenure, MEDB significantly expanded its mission to lead and inspire innovation in business and education, leading the community toward building a vibrant economy. The JUS Fund will allow her to continue to focus on the next generation of professionals who will serve Maui County.”
“I am very touched that the Board honored my years with this gift of giving,” said Skog. “I have appreciated the mentoring and role models who figured in my life and accomplishments, ranging from my parents to leaders and entrepreneurs within MEDB, and to those associated with MEDB that I had the good fortune to meet. It is my hope that the Fund will help take some young person to the next step—as an entrepreneur or a leader, or both—who will then, like myself, find the most unexpected path to a great career and life.”
During her time at MEDB, Skog recognized the critical role that small business played and will continue to play in Maui County’s economy. She expanded development programs designed to address the specific needs of entrepreneurs and their emerging businesses. The programs came to include workshops on finance, social media, human resources, the intensive Start Up Weekend experience, and the first joint presentation of the Hawaii Small Business Conference.
In addition, Skog led the innovative Focus Maui Nui (FMN) visioning process that captured the values, priorities, and strategies to guide Maui County’s future planning.  MEDB continues to build on FMN with successive forums and conferences including the Hawaii STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Conference, the Maui Energy Conference, and the AMOS (Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies) Conference, the premier technical conference in the nation devoted to space surveillance.
Awards from the JUS Fund are nominally $3,000 and will be awarded to the most creative concepts for leadership and entrepreneurship. Preference is given to individuals, organizations, or programs for whom the Fund’s grants will have the greatest impact. All requests for assistance with professional or curriculum development, workshops, equipment and events related to the Fund’s priorities will be considered. Candidates should align with the vision and values of MEDB and FMN, which can be found at


The 2018 JUS Fund recipients are Nisei Veterans Memorial Center (NVMC), aimed at preparing “Our Nobler Selves” leadership curriculum for delivery in Maui Schools; and Nicolas Colon, Robert Kalei Miller, and Denmark Taroma for their participation in EMER-GEN™ at the AMOS Conference.


The first annual 2018 EMER-GEN™ program is a joint initiative of the AMOS Conference and the Space Generation Advisory Council. The event is designed especially for those 35 and under who are enthusiastic about a career in space. MEDB created the two-day program with the help of advisors from industry, government, academia and non-governmental organizations. EMER-GEN™ offers mentoring and specialized development sessions on key questions and challenges that will enable tomorrow’s leaders to meet and connect with today’s leaders.
Sandy Ryan, MEDB Program Director, said, “I’m happy to launch EMER-GEN™ which capitalizes on the significant expertise and experiences that come to Maui for AMOS. The program channels them to benefit young professionals and leaders. The JUS Fund allowed three young professionals from Maui to take advantage of the program who would not otherwise have been able to.”
“Skog added, “Three EMER-GEN™ participants were brought to my attention by their mentors at UH’s Institute for Astronomy, UHMC, and MEDB’s STEMworks™ program. I followed up with interviews and was impressed with the poise and drive of the three young men.”
JUS Fund recipient, Robert Kalei Miller, geospatial information analyst at the Pacific Disaster Center, said, “It is an honor to be a recipient of the JUS Fund and to attend the first annual EMER-GEN™ at the AMOS Conference. This is a great opportunity to learn from renowned space specialists, network closely with industry peers, and gain professional skills. The knowledge and experiences that I hope to gain from EMER-GEN™ at the AMOS Conference will help me with my continued career growth.”


The NVMC ignites human potential by inspiring people to find the hero in themselves through the legacy of the Nisei Veterans (Nisei means second-generation Japanese Americans).
“NVMC is honored to receive the inaugural grant from the JUS Fund,” said NVMC executive director, Deidre Tegarden. “The curriculum called ‘Our Noble Selves’ is a critical-thinking leadership program designed for junior and senior high school students based on the values of the Nisei Veterans. Students work together in groups to hear the stories of the veterans and then apply the lessons learned to decide how they would act in various situations. This spring a pilot of ‘Our Noble Selves’ was incorporated into an 8th grade social studies class. Our grant from the JUS Fund will work with the findings from the pilot and enlist the assistance of a professional academic writer to create a more streamlined curriculum that can be presented to Maui schools.”