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A Hui Hou: A Letter From Kristine Altwies


Former Executive Director, Kristine Altwies, LMFT (left), with new Executive Director, Shaylah Nichols, LSW (right)


Dear Friends,


Let me start by thanking you for the reason you are receiving this letter. I’m sending this to you as a friend, supporter and ohana member of Hawai’i International Child (HIC) and A Family Tree (AFT). Thank you for your belief in our mission.


I am writing to share exciting news about HIC and where we are headed.


On May 1, 2023, I will be gratefully handing over the leadership of A Family Tree, our adoption agency, to Shaylah Nichols, LMSW. When I met Ms. Nichols a few years ago I had a strong sense she was the future of AFT, and the more I got to know her, the clearer this became. Ms. Nichols’ father was adopted from Korea, she received her masters degree from Columbia University, she has international experience, and most importantly, a deep love and connection to Hawai’i. In her two years at AFT, Ms. Nichols has expanded programs, updated our technology and outreach, increased grant funding, streamlined client work and improved our intern training program. I am confident she will lead AFT into a bright future, and that many more children and families will be served under her watch.


With the support of our Board of Directors, under the leadership of Rann Watumull, my new role will be as CEO of Hawai’i International Child (HIC), and as Clinical Director of PonoRoots Counseling Center (PRCC). PonoRoots and A Family Tree are the two programs under the HIC umbrella. PonoRoots was started in 2021 and provides mental health treatment to children, families and individuals. We are also a therapist training center, working to improve and increase the number of trained therapists in Hawai’i.


To say that my work in adoption changed my life would be an understatement; for 30 years HIC was my life. And just as a conductor is nothing without her orchestra, my work at HIC would not have happened were it not for you and your support of our mission to improve the lives of children and their families. Until every child has a permanent family, and every family feels complete, there is still work to be done. I ask that as you have in the past, you continue to support A Family Tree with Ms. Nichols as its new Executive Director.


Stay tuned for more exciting developments, and thank you, again.


With aloha,


Kristine Altwies, MA/LMFT

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