Maile M. Zambuto is the Founder & President of Benefit Partners and Benefit Partners Foundation, a circle of changemakers who incubate and accelerate radical ideas, projects, and organizations, with a shared vision of bringing more goodness into the world. Prior to Benefit Partners, Maile spent 25 years raising much needed funds and awareness for social justice issues. She has held leadership positions in organizations like Safe Horizon, the nation’s leading victim assistance organization and most recently in partnership with Actress and Advocate Mariska Hargitay for 9 years as the Executive Director and National CEO of her Joyful Heart Foundation. In addition to raising hundreds of millions of dollars in philanthropic resources, Maile has worked at the intersection of social justice and entertainment, creating content to turn up the volume on issues no one wanted to talk about until recently. She produced campaigns like the NOMORE PSA campaign, the NFLSays NOMORE campaign, Hawaii Says NOMORE, End the Backlog, and Executive Produced the Emmy Award winning HBO documentary, I AM EVIDENCE.
Maile is a recipient of Women’s e-News’s 21 Leaders for the 21st Century and received the Commissioner’s Child Advocacy Award from the NYC Administration for Children’s Services. A survivor herself, Maile frequently shares her story to both inspire healing and galvanize change to end violence and abuse. Through Benefit Partners, Maile’s current focus is on gender equity, domestic violence and sexual assault, criminal justice reform, and contributing to the anti-racism movement.
One of the projects Benefit Partners has incubated into a 501c3 organization is ‘Ekolu Mea Nui. Founded by the Miller Family after their teenage son received a ten year prison sentence. This mission of ‘Ekolu Mea Nui is to transform Hawai‘i’s justice system through Native Hawaiian cultural practices and values
Dr. Jamee Māhealani Miller is Co-Founder & President of ‘Ekolu Mea Nui and has dedicated her entire professional life to working with Native Hawaiians. She started off as a non-traditional education student at Kailua High School where she worked in the counseling department and serviced Native Hawaiian students, most were from Waimānalo. She assisted these students in completing high school and plans for college. Dr. Miller then started a child abuse prevention program in Waimānalo to service families and young children of Hawaiian ethnicity, she lead a team of multi-disciplinary professionals to strengthen families in the child rearing practices. Dr. Miller’s longest employment has been with the Queen Liliʻuokalani Trust, first as a practicum student and fifteen years later as the Kona Unit Manager. There she increased her learning and practices in indigenous methodologies towards healing. She was able to practice with the greatest of Hawaiian leaders and mentors of our time. Dr. Miller felt privileged to represent her generation on the executive team at QLCC, now referred to as Liliʻuokalani Trust. It was an honor to serve the Queen and her mission. Five years ago, Dr. Miller was lured away from one aliʻi Trust to another. Knowing that the Queen and Pauahi love one another so much, it wasnʻt a difficult decision. Dr. Miller is the Regional Director on Oʻahu.
Dr. Miller has a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California, a masterʻs degree in Social Work and a bachelorʻs in Hawiian Studies from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She is a licensed clinician with the state of Hawai‘i and is also a student of hula with Hālau o Ke ʻAʻaliʻi Kū Makani.
Through all of her professional success, Dr. Miller has made her ʻohana a priority. Unforeseen personal circumstances brought her to the work of justice reform in Hawaiʻi and the creation of ʻEkolu Mea Nui—named for her son who has the biggest heart, generous spirit and a brave soul. Ten years ago, the Millers were struck down by tragedy that resulted in their son ‘Ekolu, a teenager at the time, receiving a ten year prison sentence—a first offense in his young life. The Millers spent years preparing their children for college, career, and life, but were ill-prepared in navigating the criminal justice system. ‘Ekolu has been incarcerated for over 9 years now, and most of his time has been spent at Saguaro Correctional Facility in Arizona. Although he is currently transitioning out, he continues to face humiliation, hopelessness, discrimination, and fear. This personal experience led to a deep understanding of the gaping holes that exist within the incarceration system and compelled the Miller family to act.
“We refuse to accept the system as it is and believe that alternatives to incarceration exist. We envision a pono justice system that heals and empowers individuals, ‘ohana, and communities, and have made it our mission to transform Hawai‘i’s justice system through Native Hawaiian cultural practices and values.”