Marisa’s (she/her) personal and professional journey was shaped by her Latin American and Okinawan grandparents, who hailed from rural Hawai‘i, urban San Francisco, and Mexico. Passionate from a young age about building bridges between diverse people and places, Marisa has focused her 25-year career on investing in and learning from the strengths and insights that exist in communities that have often been excluded from opportunities.
Marisa is the managing director of Hawai‘i programs for the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, where she oversees statewide grant-making initiatives and collaborations within the Foundation’s funding areas of housing, health, jobs, and education. She has a special focus on rural grant-making and increasing food security, family health, and island resilience by rebuilding local food systems.
Prior to her work at the Weinberg Foundation, Marisa was a public-sector consultant in Hawai‘i for 12 years, leading statewide strategic planning efforts in the areas of community health, public education, and workforce development. Earlier in her career, she worked in California as a director of Spanish-language services at a domestic violence agency and as a nonprofit executive director in the field of community asset building. Marisa also served as a board member of the Susannah Wesley Community Center and as board chair and founding member of Mālama Honua Public Charter School, a Native Hawaiian culture-based school that serves students from kindergarten through grade eight in Waimānalo.
Marisa’s formal education journey took her from California public schools to Williams College in Massachusetts, where she was a Ford-Mellon research fellow and earned a Bachelor of Arts in history and women’s studies. She received a Thomas J. Watson fellowship to live and work in South America and Asia and later studied at Harvard University, where she received a Master of Public Policy. She is currently an Omidyar Fellow, joining an ongoing forum of leaders dedicated to creating positive and lasting change in Hawai‘i.
Marisa lives in Kailua, Hawai‘i, with her husband, son and daughter. Together, they enjoy hiking, travel, good stories, and helping to care for their island home.