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Women's Day Event-The story of Captain Chantelle Pamalia Nani O Kekai Brown

Updated: Feb 13

Embracing the Journey: A Life Fueled by Passion and Perseverance 

Celebrating Women's Day is a profound acknowledgment of the strides women have made towards equality, recognition, and empowerment, reflecting on both the achievements and ongoing challenges faced by women globally. It's a day that transcends cultural, national, and ethnic divides, uniting us in the recognition of women's contributions to society, the economy, culture, and politics. It's also a call to action for accelerating gender parity and ensuring that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe, and rewarding.

In the heart of Maui, where the spirit of community and aloha thrives, choosing Captain Chantelle Pamalia Nani o Kekai Brown to honor during Women's Day was a decision that resonated deeply with our values and mission. Captain Brown's story is not just one of personal success; it's a narrative that encapsulates the essence of what Women's Day stands for: resilience, determination, and the breaking of barriers.

Captain Brown's journey from a humble upbringing on the Big Island to becoming the first female Captain for Ocean Safety in the State of Hawaii is a testament to her unwavering spirit and dedication. Raised in a setting without basic amenities, she learned early on the value of hard work, perseverance, and the importance of dreaming big. Her educational journey, marked by excellence and leadership, set the stage for her groundbreaking career in a field traditionally dominated by men.

But Captain Brown's achievements go beyond her professional milestones. Her commitment to community service, particularly through the Junior Lifeguard Program, has made a lasting impact on the lives of countless young individuals, teaching them not just about ocean safety but about the values of courage, teamwork, and leadership. Her role as a mentor and educator reflects her deep commitment to empowering the next generation, making her an embodiment of the ideals we celebrate on Women's Day.

Moreover, Captain Brown's recognition as the first female rescue watercraft operator in the nation and her accolade as "Woman of Excellence" in 2016 highlight the groundbreaking nature of her career. These milestones are not just personal achievements; they are beacons of progress for women in public safety and beyond, illustrating the possibilities that can be unlocked when barriers are broken, and glass ceilings shattered.

In honoring Captain Brown, we are not just celebrating an individual's achievements; we are highlighting the broader narrative of women's empowerment and resilience. Her story is a powerful reminder that with passion, perseverance, and dedication, it is possible to overcome obstacles, break new ground, and pave the way for future generations. Captain Brown's life and career embody the spirit of Women's Day, making her an ideal figure to honor as we celebrate the achievements and potential of women everywhere.

This Women's Day, as we gather to recognize and honor Captain Chantelle Pamalia Nani o Kekai Brown, let us also recommit ourselves to the values she represents. Let's continue to push for progress, support one another, and celebrate the incredible contributions of women to our world. By doing so, we not only honor those who have paved the way but also inspire the next generation of women to dream big, break barriers, and achieve their full potential.

Embracing the Journey: A Life Fueled by Passion and Perseverance 

The Story of Captain Chantelle Pamalia Nani o Kekai Brown


In a world filled with countless stories, mine is a testament to the power of passion and perseverance. From humble beginnings to extraordinary achievements, my life has been a remarkable journey of self-discovery, growth, and unwavering determination. Through the highs and lows, I have learned invaluable lessons that have shaped me into the person I am today. This is my biography—a chronicle of a life lived with purpose, fueled by an unwavering belief in the limitless potential of the human spirit.

My name is Chantelle Pamalia Nani O Kekai Brown and I was born on the Big Island in Keaukaha and raised on the Island of Maui. I graduated from Baldwin High School in Wailuku. I have a younger brother- Jack Ekolu Kaimakani Williams and we were raised by two individuals who are my role models in life - my mom and dad who are both from Oahu. I have two amazing children - my son- Duke Kameaho’okohoiapu’uwaihaokilaka’aka’alokuloku who graduates from Kamehameha Schools Maui this year and my daughter - Aaliyah Ku’umomimakame who also attends Kamehameha Schools Maui and is in the 7th grade.  I’ve  been married to my best friend, partner, and soul mate - Keola for 16 years and we’ve been together for 20 years.

On the Big Island, we had no running water or  electricity and my parents struggled to make ends meet and put food in our mouths. There was no choice but to take a bath in a pikini during daylight hours as it was only on special occasions where my dad would warm up water on our small portable Coleman propane gas stove so we could enjoy a warm bath. And forget about doing anything at night as we lived in a remote area and would only be able to see if we lit our Coleman lanterns. I was a little kid and didn’t realize how hard it was to live as I was only in Kindergarten and my brother was a baby being that he’s 4 years younger than me. I was happy if I got to pick all the gardenia flowers that were growing in the lava beds or playing with finger paints and cooking with mud. I’m so grateful that I got raised this way as I have grown to appreciate EVERYTHING in life. When I went to school- it was a treat!! I got to play with children my age, I loved learning and getting to know people. Thank goodness for my mom who bought me those learning books with whatever money they had to teach me. My dad built rock walls in the day for $20 a day and drove tandem trailer semi trucks at night while my mom stayed home with my brother and I in our makeshift home with no home security of any kind. 

Seeds of Ambition

Born into a modest family, I quickly learned the value of hard work and the importance of dreaming big. From early childhood, I possessed an insatiable curiosity, an insatiable thirst for knowledge that propelled me forward. With every setback, I found the strength to rise, embracing challenges as opportunities for growth. It was during this formative period that I discovered my passion—a burning desire to make a difference in the world.

Navigating the Storms

Life, as I soon discovered, has a way of testing our resolve. Through personal hardships and unforeseen obstacles, I learned to weather the storms that came my way. It was during these trying times that I discovered the strength within me, a strength that would guide me through even the darkest of hours. With unwavering determination, I forged ahead, refusing to let adversity define my path.

We left the Big Island while I was still in Kindergarten and moved to Maui. We moved in with my father’s mom and dad and for the first time in our lives - my brother and I discovered water falling from a pipe - a shower!!! We played in it for hours…lol. During elementary and middle school - I thrived. GPA of 3.8-4.0 every year, student of the month numerous times, good citizen, student of the year, head of multiple committees, vice-president of my class in 7th grade and president of my class in 8th grade. Extra Curricular activities included Cheerleading, Volleyball, Drama, Ballet and Karate. In high school, I was still hitting Honor Roll, involved in multiple committees from Freshman to Senior Year and was a cheerleader for Baldwin High School. Made the May Day Court, Most Talented for two years, part of the Junior Prom Court and Sophomore Representative for our Basketball Rally Court. Extra Curricular Activities include the Junior Lifeguard Program and Canoe Paddling for Malama Ula Canoe Club. 

Turning Passion into Purpose

Armed with a clear vision and an unwavering belief in my abilities, I set out to turn my passion into a purposeful career. Through relentless dedication and countless hours of hard work, I honed my skills, pushing beyond my limits to achieve excellence. Along the way, I encountered mentors who believed in my potential, offering guidance and support that fueled my aspirations. Their belief in me became the catalyst for my growth and success.

I was part of the Junior Lifeguard Program my Junior and Senior year. I graduated in May of 1996, turned 18  two months later in July and got hired as a pool guard for the County of Maui in October 1996. Two years later in 1998- I got promoted to work for Ocean Safety and have been working there ever since. To this day- I’ve been working for 27 years. In 2013, I  became the first female Captain for Ocean Safety in the State. I captained the South District from 2013-2015, transferred to Training Captain from 2015-2021, then transferred back to the South District. During my time as a Training Captain, I have educated, certified and instructed thousands of people ranging from preschoolers to senior citizens, whether it be the general public or those who work in a public safety agency. I’ve multi tasked and fulfilled my duty at community events, numerous recruit classes, instructed numerous rescue watercraft classes, certified many in CPR, instructed all Ocean Safety Officers in all of their yearly training (which means doing one training for the whole bureau 13 times to cover all personnel), coordinated and ran the Junior Lifeguard Program all by myself for 5 years. In my last year of Training, I finally got a Lieutenant to assist me with my workload. Also, in 2002 I was the first female rescue watercraft operator in the Nation and recognized as “Woman of Excellence” in 2016. After my work day is complete, I would go home and put on my wife and mother hat and be there for my family. After all, everything I do is for my family. 

Leaving a Legacy

As the years went by, I realized that true fulfillment lies not in personal achievements alone but in leaving a lasting impact on the lives of others. I embarked on a mission to inspire and empower those around me, sharing my knowledge and experiences to ignite the flames of possibility within them. By embracing my purpose, I discovered a profound sense of fulfillment that transcended personal accomplishments.


One of my motto is “Be the person you want to work with.” My whole life, all I strive to do is to make others happy, make sure others get what they deserve and need, make sure all that I do is fair and consistent and complete all tasks without asking for anyone’s help.

My story is not just a collection of achievements; it is a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and the unwavering pursuit of one's dreams. Through every triumph and setback, I have learned to embrace the journey, for it is in the journey that true growth and transformation occur. I hope that my story serves as a beacon of inspiration for those who dare to dream big and chase their passions relentlessly. May it remind you that within each of us lies an incredible potential waiting to be unleashed. Embrace your journey, for it is through adversity that we find our true strength.

You Are Invited

In the spirit of Women's Day, What Makes You Feel Beautiful (WMYFB) is proud to present "Celebrating Strength in Grace: The Enduring Spirit of Maui's Women," a unique gathering that shines a light on the resilience and empowerment of the incredible women of Maui. This event, set against the backdrop of our beautiful island community, promises an evening of inspiration, connection, and celebration. With a special focus on the remarkable life and achievements of Captain Chantelle Pamalia Nani o Kekai Brown, we invite you to join us in a celebration that transcends the ordinary, offering a space for stories of strength, courage, and grace to inspire and motivate us all.

As we unveil Captain Brown's mini documentary for the first time, prepare to be moved by her story of passion and perseverance. This is more than an event; it's an opportunity to be part of a movement that honors the spirit of Maui's women, fostering a sense of community and shared purpose. Whether you're looking to connect with influential community members, support a cause that celebrates women's achievements, or simply enjoy an evening filled with heartfelt performances and meaningful connections, this event is for you.

We warmly extend this invitation not just to attendees, but also to potential sponsors and volunteers who wish to contribute to an evening that promises to leave a lasting impact on our community. This is your chance to support an event where every detail, from the honoring ceremony to the vibrant community celebration, is designed to uplift and empower.

Let's come together to make "Celebrating Strength in Grace" an unforgettable tribute to the enduring spirit of Maui's women. Your presence, support, and involvement will not only enrich this event but also reinforce the message of strength and grace that defines our community. Join us in making a difference, celebrating achievements, and inspiring future generations.

We look forward to welcoming you to an evening of unity, empowerment, and celebration. See you there!

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