Executive Director and Founder
Lolofi Olo Soakai, a first-generation Tongan American born in SoCal and raised in Ontario, comes from a family that emphasizes the value of remembering one’s culture and the importance of traditions, language, kindness, service, and gratitude. Lolofi is a founder and Executive Director of the Tongan-led, Tongan and Pacific Islander-serving organization M.A.L.O (Motivating Action Leadership Opportunity), which means “thank you” in the Tongan language.
Lolofi has made it her life’s work to empower her Tongan community and pass along the knowledge she has gained. The Soakai family has been a pillar of the Ontario community since the 1970s, supporting generations of Tongan families coming to the U.S. in search of opportunities for themselves and their community. Lolofi and her family have been channeling Tongan culture fostering deep connections with one another and educating the greater community of Tongans living in the Inland Empire. For over ten years, Lolofi has served as a community leader, organizer, and consultant for underserved Tongan and Pacific Islander families. Her passion for her community and improving living conditions for Tongans and Pacific Islander families in the region led her to establish MALO, which works to promote education, civic engagement, community-based resources, data, health, job readiness, youth leadership, mentorship, and so much more.
Within the past five years, Lolofi has implemented skills learned from her Master’s program in Ethical Leadership in a number of different ways. In particular, she organized an educational showcase to foster awareness of Tongan culture and to connect Tongans to their local community. Since then, Lolofi has built off of this project to find better ways to serve her Tongan community by establishing MALO (Motivating Action Leadership Opportunity), a non-profit devoted to building and fostering community with Tongans/Tongan Americans living in the Inland Empire.
Board of Directors
Ana Fakatoumafi, MBA
Kalesita Manu, MHIS
Karla Thomas, MPH
Dr. Michael Rabaja Manalo-Pedro, Ed.D
Director of Development
‘Asena Taione-Filihia, M.Ed
‘Asena, born in Riverside and raised in Southern California, identifies as a first-generation, low-income, Tonga woman. She is a mother of three, a wife, and a proud aunt to her nieces and nephews. She currently serves as the Assistant Director for the Asian American Resource Center at Pomona College. ‘Assena’s educational background includes an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts from LA Valley College, a BA in Communications from Cal State Northridge, and a Masters in Education from UCLA. ‘Asena has always had a passion for community-centered outreach among underrepresented families. She co-founded the first Native and Pacific Islander Summer Intensive Trander Experience at UCLA’s Center for Community College Partnerships (CCCP). ‘Asena also has managed both the Titan Ambassador Program and the Titan Choices Program at Cal State Fullerton, providing college access information, funding opportunities, and other higher education resources for high school students. ‘Asena is invested in supporting system-wide efforts to better serve underrepresented communities while also building long-lasting relationships that center community-based knowledge, Indigenous communities, and an Indigenous-centered pedagogy.
Community Health Workers
Community Member Contributions
MALO’s work comes from the contributions of the Soakai family in community organizing for the Tongan American community in the Inland Empire for the past few decades.
Fall 2019/Spring 2020
Harvey Mudd College
Solene Lux Bryant