Founder and Executive Director
Lolofi Olo Soakai, from Ontario, CA. Comes from a family that has embedded the importance of valuing culture in order to never forget who you are inside and out and too value the importance of traditions, language, kindness, service, and gratitude. I am a founder and Executive Director of a Pacific Islander lead organization called MALO. In the Tongan language, MALO means Thank you.
As a first-generation Tongan American, my family has been a pillar of support in the Ontario community since the 1970s. We’ve supported generations of Tongan families who have come to the U.S. from the island of Tonga in search of a better life. Through these many connections across our community, my family and I have been channeling the Tongan culture as a way to both connect with one another and also educate those from outside our community about the indigenous values that make us who we are. I have made it my life-work to empower my Tongan community and pass along the knowledge that was handed to me. For almost ten years, I’ve served as a community consultant for the under-represented Pacific Islanders and the community of Tongans in the city of Ontario in addition to some of the local cities in the Inland empire. My family and I were able to partner with Pomona College’s Asian American Resource Center to promote a college tutoring program that helps to promote the value of higher education as well as create the understanding that Tongans/Pacific Islanders belong in college settings as much as anyone else. This program is called the Saturday Tongan Education Program (STEP) and it has been in existence since 2009. To serve the community that I identify with creates such meaningful efforts towards understanding and genuine hope for success and self-sufficient futures.
Within the past five years, I was able to implement skills learned from my Masters program in Ethical Leadership and I organized an educational showcase of the Tongan culture as a means to create understanding. This event was the beginning of efforts in connecting an underrepresented Tongan community to their local city/community. We’ve since built off this project to find ways to better serve our Tongan community by establishing a non-profit in California called MALO (Motivating Action Leadership and Opportunity).