“There is a strong sense of community here that’s unique” declares Brittany Heyd, who grew up in Irvine, California and spent a decade living in Washington, D.C. “Everyone cares deeply about this place, and everyone knows everyone, which feels nice. It feels like an extended family. We shouldn’t lose that specialness because people can’t make ends meet.”
Heyd and her husband Nick moved back to his hometown of Wailuku, Maui in 2016 to raise a family here. They now have four children, born between 2015 and 2020. Heyd contrasts the sense of ‘ohana that permeates the culture in this state to the bigger cities she’s lived in, and asserts “hands down” that’s the biggest attraction for her.
The caring goes both ways. Heyd wants to reciprocate the aloha she’s received from her fellow citizens. She talks about how hard it was for her and Nick to find jobs on Maui that compared to their prior lives in Washington, DC that spanned the White House, venture capital, and high growth technology startups. “We wanted to be here for family reasons, but it was a big decision,” she shares, empathizing with the many people who either can’t afford to return home to live here, or who leave Hawai‘i for a lower cost of living.
“Our decreasing local population is a problem for many reasons, including that is disconnects people from family and culture,” notes Heyd, who hopes to make a difference not just at her job as cofounder of Mana Up, a business accelerator and venture fund, but also now as a Holomua advisory committee member.
Her work at Mana Up focuses on supporting businesses in their own growth, to diversify the economy and in turn hire executives at a competitive salary who can then afford to live here. Her goal for Holomua is to help create policies that support that, as well as “collaborate with different groups to find solutions. We all need to work at this together,” she pronounces. She views this community as her extended ‘ohana, and sharing her time and talent is her way of putting family first.
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