About Us

The Pono Pono Peace Initiative is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization registered in Hawaii, dedicated to fostering opportunities for peacebuilding students and projects to amplify the impact of peacebuilding efforts throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

In Hawaiian when you put two words beside each other, their meaning is deepened or emphasized. The Hawaiian concept of "pono" is understood to mean balance and righteousness. “Pono Pono” therefore extends pono to a deeper level and reminds us that to have Pono Pono peace it is not enough to avoid conflict or do right; we need to do more to create peace! It is not enough to remove the weeds; we must plant the flowers and food of peace.

Pono Pono is a call to be a positive influence in the world wherever we are.

Pono's work was initially catalyzed by the vision of Naomi Pedersen, a Brigham Young University-Hawaii (BYUH) Intercultural Peacebuilding program student. Now an alumnus, Naomi saw an opportunity to help increase the impact of peacebuilding by focusing on the skills of BYUH students and connecting them with opportunities in the field.

To this end, the Pono Pono Peace Initiative has undertaken a multifaceted approach to cultivating a thriving peacebuilding ecosystem:

  • * Developing collaborative projects with community partners, such as the Abrahamic Faith Conference hosted at BYUH in the summer of 2023.

  • * Supporting students through internships, scholarships, and competitive opportunities to hone their peacebuilding skills and bring their ideas to life.

  • * Promoting peacebuilding strategies and solutions through podcasting, social media, and other outreach channels.

  • * Organizing workshops, seminars, and training programs for students, professionals, and the broader community to deepen understanding and application of peacebuilding principles and practices.

  • * Hosting peacebuilding conferences and symposiums that provide a platform for students and alumni to present their research, share insights, and engage with experts in the field.

Through these concerted efforts, the Pono Pono Peace Initiative strives to create a supportive ecosystem that nurtures student growth and catalyzes impactful peacebuilding initiatives, both locally and globally.

We recognize that Peacebuilding comes in many different shapes.

This organization would not exist without the dedicated support of the David O Mckay Center and dedicated donors and people like you.

If you would like to get involved with the Pono Pono Peace Initiative and contribute to the flourishing of peacebuilding in the Asia-Pacific region, we would love to connect with you.

Together, we can cultivate a more just, harmonious, and sustainable future.

Meet Our Board

Brian Moore

Board Member

Brian Moore received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management (Finance) from Brigham Young University, after which he obtained a Juris Doctor degree from Willamette University College of Law (Salem, Oregon).

After practicing real estate and land use law with the law firm of Saalfeld Griggs PC in Salem, Oregon, Brian joined one of his clients, Mountain West Investment Corp., managing real estate development projects.

In 2019, Brian helped found and is now the owner and CEO of the Neighborly Ventures, Inc. family of companies, which focuses on developing, constructing, and managing multi-family housing. Neighborly Ventures has developed over 3,300 multi-family units in three states (OR, WA, UT) valuing over $800MM, currently manages 18 multi-family properties (3,364 units) in those same states, and is currently constructing a 186-unit multi-family project in Bend, Oregon.

Brian and his wife, Hailey (BS, Family Science ‘99), have six children and live in Salem, Oregon.

Maclaine Day


Maclaine grew up in rural Central Montana. In 2017, she graduated from Brigham Young University Hawaii with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Cultural Studies with a certificate in Peacebuilding and Mediation and a certificate in Strategic Communication.

She then served a volunteer mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ukraine for a year and a half.

Maclaine graduated from the University of Bradford with her master’s degree in Advanced Practice in Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution in December of 2021.

She has worked as a youth fitness coach, residential assistant, mediator, legal assistant, substitute teacher, and music instructor.

Maclaine began teaching in the Intercultural Peacebuilding

department at Brigham Young University Hawaii in January of 2022.

Maclaine is passionate about peacebuilding. She has done peacebuilding work in Ukraine, England, Thailand, New Zealand, Hawaii, Utah, and Montana.

She loves the creative opportunities that working to constructively overcome conflict can bring.

Rebecca Burnham

Board Member

Rebecca Burnham’s passion for peacebuilding was lit when, as an 18-year-old studying the Arab-Israeli conflict in Jerusalem, she heard Biblical promises of gathering in a way that included the Arabs as well as the Jews. Since then, she has endeavoured to impact the world for good while overcoming her perceptions of others as enemies.

She has a BA in Near Eastern Studies from BYU, served an 18-month Christian mission among the people of Brazil, and wrote for BC Report magazine, covering family, religious, and educational issues from a conservative perspective.

She learned there that many of those whose ideologies she opposed shared her longing for a kinder and more just world.

While raising her family, she led two pro-family lobbies through the gay marriage debate while avoiding contention and inflammatory action alerts.

She works with developmentally disabled adults and is launching an online community devoted to bringing to the stage quality musicals that lift and unite.

Steve Pedersen


Steve Pedersen has dedicated his career to making a positive impact on communities and addressing the root causes of challenges related to poverty, health disparities, and social inequity. Armed with a Masters of Public Health degree from Yale University, Steve has leveraged his expertise to drive meaningful change. Steve has had the privilege of working with First Nations communities and stakeholders in Canada, striving to address the enduring impacts of colonialism. He has helped secure grant funding, taught workshops, and collaborated on the development of chronic disease and food security strategies.

Steve's entrepreneurial spirit has also led him to cofound a micro-credit NGO and an internet start-up that was subsequently acquired by a venture capital firm.

He has shared his expertise in public health as a university lecturer for five years and as an invited guest lecturer. As the executive director of an NGO, Steve has navigated the complexities of the non-profit sector, working to amplify the voices of the public health sector.

Steve has also served as the Director of a primary health care delivery organization working to strengthen the primary health care system by reducing gaps in care and supporting medical clinics in their efforts to become more patient-centered and to utilize team-based care. Alongside his diverse professional endeavors, Steve has maintained a deep commitment to fostering peace, trust, and interfaith understanding.

In 2023, he co-founded the Pono Pono Peace Initiative, a groundbreaking organization dedicated to promoting holistic, community-driven approaches to conflict resolution and social transformation.

Throughout his career, Steve has remained steadfast in his commitment to addressing the underlying issues of disease and poverty. He has honed his skills in creative leadership and design thinking and has even written an academic paper exploring the power of hope. Furthermore, Steve has created and taught numerous in-person and online courses focused on leadership, teambuilding, trust, happiness, marriage, and interfaith understanding.

Naomi Pedersen


Naomi Pedersen's passion for peace, helping communities thrive, and positive change moved her to co-found the Pono Pono Peace Initiative in 2023. A graduate of Brigham Young University-Hawaii's (BYUH) Intercultural Peacebuilding program, Naomi has spent the last twenty years tirelessly working to foster understanding, challenge injustice, and empower communities.

Born in Canada, Naomi has woven her commitment to peacebuilding into every aspect of her life. As a mother of 11 children, she has made it a priority to instill the values of compassion, respect, and conflict resolution within her own family. This dedication has extended beyond the home, as Naomi has taught in-person and online peacebuilding classes, reaching countless individuals. In addition to teaching, Naomi has created platforms for diverse religious and spiritual communities to engage in meaningful conversations, challenge biases, and discover shared values through hosting workshops, camps, retreats, and conferences,

Naomi's 20-year experience working closely with First Nations communities in Canada has given her a deep understanding of colonialism's enduring impacts and the critical importance of decolonization efforts. She has witnessed firsthand the ongoing struggles for Indigenous sovereignty, cultural revitalization, and the dismantling of oppressive colonial structures. This context has informed and enriched Naomi's holistic approach to peacebuilding and her commitment to centering marginalized voices.

Navigating diverse perspectives and beliefs has been a key challenge in Naomi's peacebuilding work. By facilitating open and respectful conversations, she has built bridges across divides and guided participants to discover common ground. Addressing systemic injustice has also been a priority, as Naomi has tirelessly advocated for gender equality.

Recognizing the transformative power of interfaith dialogue, Naomi has made it a centerpiece of her peacebuilding efforts.

Alongside her peacebuilding initiatives, Naomi has demonstrated a deep understanding of the interconnectedness between economic security and social harmony. She has owned several successful businesses. Her passion for event planning and positive psychology has further enriched her ability to create transformative experiences that inspire hope and empower positive change.

Réka Bordás-Simon


My name is Réka, I am originally from Hungary though I lived all over Europe before moving to Hawaii in 2014.

I got my double bachelors in Peacebuilding & Psychology, I graduated from BYUH in 2018.

I am a mother of 4 children. I just finished a criminal justice certificate at UH and I am transferring to grad school in a few weeks to get my MA in Conflict Transformation at the Peace & Justice Center at EMU.

I was a field director for the McKay Center and was also involved in volunteering with the center while I was a student. My main focus was mediation. I had a chance in 2015 to go to a field trip to Barcelona for the Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates and I always wished more of my peers had this opportunity because it truly enhanced my educational experience.