CHOW 2023 sponsorship has sold out! To join our sponsor waitlist for a chance to get involved should a sponsorship slot reopen, please email
Laurie VanBenschoten, Development Manager, at [email protected]

Thursday, June 8

The Ocean Awards Gala will take place in Washington, D.C., in the Ronald Reagan Building atrium on the evening of June 8, 2023 from 6pm to 10pm. Attire is black tie optional. The gala annually recognizes champions of marine and Great Lakes stewardship. Past honorees include Presidents, Members of Congress, and world-renowned scientists and conservationists.  

The Honorable Raúl M. Grijalva, U.S. House of Representatives, AZ-07 

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva has been a leading voice on environmental and social justice issues since being elected to U.S. Congress more than two decades ago. In 2018, he became Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, a role in which he successfully elevated climate action, environmental justice, Indigenous affairs, and the decolonization of U.S. Territories to the forefront of federal policy.


Some of Rep. Grijalva’s most celebrated accomplishments as Chair include passing the Great American Outdoors Act into law; securing major ocean and climate action wins through passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Inflation Reduction Act, and must-pass National Defense Authorization Act; passing the Environmental Justice For All Act, the most comprehensive environmental justice legislation in history, through Committee; holding the first congressional hearings in history on issues critical to Indian Country, including Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Indian Boarding Schools, and tribal consultation and co-management of public lands; and passing the historic Puerto Rico Status Act through the House.

The Honorable Ed Case, U.S. House of Representatives, HI-01 

Congressman Ed Case has represented Hawaii's First Congressional District since 2019 and previously represented Hawaii’s Second Congressional District from 2002 to 2007. Congressman Case was born and raised in Hawai‘i, was introduced to the ocean before he could walk, and has spent a lifetime in and advocating for our world’s ocean. As a leader in ocean policy in Congress, Congressman Case was an early advocate for and was instrumental in the designation of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and current efforts to expand protections for the Pacific Remote Islands. A member of the House Appropriations and Natural Resources Committees, he has worked to ensure that indigenous communities, including Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and Alaska Natives, are involved in all aspects of marine natural resources management. Congressman Case also co-led reauthorization of the Coral Reef Conservation Program, and continues to fight for ocean-based climate solutions, sustainable climate ready fisheries management, and international cooperation and coordination in saving our world’s oceans. 


This year, the Foundation will recognize The Honorable Raúl M. Grijalva, U.S. Representative from Arizona; The Honorable Ed Case, U.S. Representative from Hawai’i; Solomon Pili Kahoʻohalahala; and William J. Ailā Jr. 

The Leadership Award will celebrate Congressman Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and Congressman Ed Case of Hawai’i. This award honors political leaders who demonstrate a commitment to ocean, coastal and Great Lakes stewardship. Through their work on policy and governance, Leadership Award honorees elevate attention of the marine and Great Lakes environment through support of sound science and conservation. They champion change and action to protect these environments and their natural and cultural resources for future generations. 

Solomon Pili Kahoʻohalahala  

Solomon was born on the island of Lānaʻi and descended from a long line of Hawaiian navigators, keepers of the land, waters, and the sea. Inspired by the mission of traditional seafaring and wayfinding, he became a crewmember on Hawaiian double hulled voyaging canoe, Hōkūleʻa, while organizing the people of Lānaʻi to support, protect and stop the bombing of Kahoʻolawe island, a significant site in celestial navigation and ceremonial voyaging departures. He is a founding member that established the Kānepuʻu Native Hawaiian Endemic Dryland Forest Preserve and the Mānele-Hulapōeō Marine Life Conservation District on the island of Lānaʻi. He was elected to serve several terms as the Lānaʻi island representative to the Maui County Council, the Hawai‘i State Legislature and appointed Executive Director of the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission. He established the Maunalei Ahupuaʻa Mauka-Makai Managed Area and is a co-founding member of the Maui Nui Makai Network, supporting traditional Hawaiian mauka-makai resources management communities on Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi and Maui islands. He advocated and met with US Congressional members and Executives of the Obama Administration, culminating in the expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, creating the world’s largest marine protected area, and currently serves as its native Hawaiian elder on the reserve advisory council. He also serves as Chairperson of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. He is the current native Hawaiian member on the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument community group and a member of the Pacific Remote Islands Coalition. This year he has advocated for a variety of protections for our ocean including sanctuary designation for Papahānaumokuākea and the Pacific Remote Islands, achieving the 30x30 goal, modifying the Treaty of the High Seas, and preventing deep sea mining that would cause irrecoverable damage to deep sea ecosystems. I ka wā mamua i ka wā mahope. 

William J. Ailā Jr.   

William was born and raised on the Wai`anae Coast, on the island of O’ahu. He grew up fishing and diving near his great-grandmother’s beach home where he learned from her the values of respect for the ocean and conservation of its resources. A lifelong native Hawaiian fisherman, he has practiced Indigenous sustainable fishing practices throughout his entire life. After earning a B.A. in tropical agriculture from the University of Hawaiʻi, William embarked on a 37-year journey as a public servant of the State of Hawaii. He was the Wai‘anae Boat Harbor Harbormaster and worked for more than 23 years in the state of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation before being appointed Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources and chair of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, a state body responsible for conserving and managing Hawaii's natural resources. During his tenure he proved his commitment to protecting areas that have deep cultural importance as well as significant natural resource value and expanded Hawaii’s Natural Area Reserve program, streamlined permitting for restoration of Hawaiian fishponds and helped create the first community-based subsistence fishing area in Haena, Kauai. In his most recent role as Chair of the Hawaiian Homes Commission and Director of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, he helped to secure a historic allocation of $600 million to address the housing needs of native Hawaiians. William was instrumental in the creation and expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and was the former chair of the Papahānaumokuākea Reserve Advisory Council. He is a member of the Pacific Remote Islands Coalition, a group brought together by a love for the ocean that connects and sustains us working to expand and increase protections for these special islands, atolls, and reefs. 

Sanctuary Wavemaker Award

The Sanctuary Wavemaker Award will be given to Solomon Pili Kahoʻohalahala and William J. Ailā Jr. This award celebrates dedicated citizens who conduct critical work that benefits national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments and are active advocates and ambassadors for national marine sanctuaries. 

Sustainable Seafood Contributors

We would like to thank our sustainable seafood and beverage partners for their generosity and support! Positively Groundfish will be donating the entrée, Finless Foods, Atlantic Sea Farms, NETUNO, and Taylor Shellfish will be providing oysters and hors d’oeuvres during our cocktail reception, and Tito’s Vodka will be providing two signature cocktails, the “Tipping Point Tipple” and the “Climate Connection.”  We are proud to be able to showcase their delicious offerings. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts (and stomachs!)

Help Make a Difference!

Sponsorship opportunities for CHOW 2023 are sold out and individual gala tickets were not sold this year. However, there is still a chance to attend the Ocean Awards Gala! The top fundraiser of the Foundation’s first annual peer-to-peer CHOW fundraising campaign will win a pair of tickets to the gala for the rare chance to network with a who’s who of marine conservation in the United States.