Patria Ruth Weston
Patria’s great-grandmother gave her the name, which in Spanish means land of our ancestors, fatherland and love of homeland.
She is the proud mother of two ‘ōpio who attend Kahuku High School. Patria says that one of the most defining experiences for their ʻohana was the chance for her keiki to be educated and developed through Pūnana Leo and Kula Kaiapuni Hawaiʻi. The grounding, connection and worldview nurtured during these years has been nothing short of transformational in a lifelong learning process.
Patria has been engaged in community work in Hawaiʻi and abroad for 20 years. While pursuing an undergraduate social work degree at BYU-Hawaiʻi, she had the chance to complete a practicum in Suva, Fiji. She completed her MSW at Columbia University in New York City where she worked to support permanency planning in the child welfare system with youth and their extended family in many different neighborhoods in the city.
Upon returning to Hawaiʻi, Patria worked as the Social Service Manager for Kahuku Medical Center assisting Koʻolauloa families navigate the health system. In 2008, she began working as the Senior Program Officer for Consuelo Foundation, an operating foundation dedicated to prevention of child abuse in Hawaiʻi and the Philippines. She represented the foundation as a community liaison and provided various kinds of support to Consueloʻs partners.
It was during these years that Patria had the chance to work deeply with a number of ʻāina based programs. She learned first-hand that “the concept of traditional charity work is more about redemption of the giver and not the liberation of the receiver” (Robert Egger). Patria tells us, “these were mind blowing years being able to spend time with ‘ōiwi leadership from across the pae ‘āina. I feel deep commitment and kuleana to support the lāhui Hawaiʻi.”
She spent two years as the Executive Director of Kids Hurt Too Hawaiʻi during a time of leadership transition, and had the chance to lead the organization in the creation of a workforce development enterprise program called HI Rising. Most recently, Patria worked with Islander Institute, a group dedicated to building community power and supporting change in complex systems. Her time in the not-for-profit system has taught her that choosing not to take risks to enact change, is definitely the biggest risk of all.