Teaching Local-style Leadership

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - February 14, 2007
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Pacific Leadership Partners president Celine Piilani Nelsen (standing) and chief operations officer and affiliate trainer Chastity Cox
Pacific Leadership Partners president Celine Piilani
Nelsen (standing) and chief operations officer and
affiliate trainer Chastity Cox

Celine Piilani Nelsen mimics her grandfather’s full-on Kauai pidgin to relate the lessons in life he taught her.

“Eh, bebe,” she says with a deeper voice, a smile and a dramatic pause. “Common sense will always allow you to do your best job.”

What her grandfather, Louis Niau meant, she says, is that you can’t rely on technicalities alone. His message is, “we have to trust our instincts or our na’au. The na’au will never fail you.”

Nelsen applies those lessons with her company, Pacific Leadership Partners, offering a series of interactive how-to workshops on self-help, human resources and leadership in a curriculum of more than 10 half-day and all-day seminars. She’s been teaching these classes since 2002, and officially started her business in 2005. Her book, No Matter What! Five Steps of Reflection for A Balanced Life, is also the title of one of her workshops.

Nelsen’s husband, Bill, a director of membership and auxiliary services for Hawaii Dental Service, teaches classes in policies and procedures, and her chief operations officer, Chastity Cox, a Kahuku High graduate, also teaches a class, using her desire to play volleyball for the University of Hawaii as a lesson in persistence, overcoming obstacles and achieving dreams and goals. Other trainers are Caroline Sakai, Gerry Yahata, Stevette Santiago and Alt Kagesa.

Originally from Port Allen on Kauai’s south side, Nelsen often uses stories of her humble beginnings on the plantation as comparisons to lessons that apply in today’s work force.

“When I was a kid, I had no idea other kids were of different ethnicities,” recalls Nelsen. “I remind people how to look at ourselves through a child’s eyes.”

The oldest of three children, Nelsen was raised by her grandfather, who had a third-grade education. She credits him for his hands-on lessons in ukulele, gardening, fishing and salt patch harvesting, which gave her valuable life skills.

“I have no challenges,” says the Kalihi resident, who does business with the end result in mind. “There are little bumps in the road, and I’ll try to circumvent them with good planning.”

Performing hula on stage since she was age 2, she’s no stranger to the spotlight. She does her best to get a chuckle from her audience when she shares her wisdom.

Just to name a few, her clients include Kamehameha Schools, University of Hawaii Federal Credit Union, Bishop Museum, Queen Liliuokalani Children’s Center, RCUH and Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center.

Nelsen says her dreams for the future include franchising, and to be the kind of philanthropist that changes one person at a time in the community for a better Hawaii.

For more information, call 843-8810, or log onto www.pacificleadership.com


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