LIHUE — Leave your politics at the door. And your favorite sports team. And even your religious beliefs.
The Kauai Mens Conference on Saturday is all about men coming together to focus on leadership and what that means for their families and this community.
“This one is really meant to bring men together over a wide cross-section,” said Brian Alston, an event organizer. “We want men of all walks of life to come to this gathering.”
The free conference, “Leading by Generations,” is set for 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Smith’s Tropical Paradise. It is put on by the Kauai Fatherhood Council. Lunch will be provided.
About 100 men generally attend the annual meeting, where there will be guest speakers, including a welcome address by Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami, and group sessions for men to talk story about challenges in their lives and facing them together.
Past conferences have focused family, health and spirit. This year’s will focus on leadership as males 13 and up hear and talk about how they can better work together across generations.
The keynote speaker at the Kauai Men’s Conference is Dr. Roy Nafarrete, director of human resources for a healthcare organization in Hawaii, a lecturer in leadership at Walden University, and president of ChangetheCulture, LLC.
A 28-year Navy veteran, Nafarrete developed the presentation: “Aloha Starts with I”, which addresses sexual assault and other destructive behavior prevention. Since 2016, Dr. Nafarrete has delivered his message to over 135,000 people.
“No matter who we are, we can be leaders in our personal lives in the prevention of male violence against women,” said Cary Valentine, another conference organizer.
He said the group sessions will be a chance to touch on different aspects of leadership. It is during those smaller gatherings that men can share more of what they’re thinking, Valentine said.
“They are oftentimes very, very powerful,” he said. “This is an opportunity for everyone to kind of share their stories and get feedback and make connections with others in the room.”
Each breakout session will be facilitated by a cross-section of persons from different generations, such as Millennials born 1977 to 1995, Generation X born 1965 to 1976, Baby Boomers born 1946 to 1964, Silent Generation born 1945 and before, and Generation Z teens through early 20s.
Organizers said they are “intentionally inviting males with an array of leadership responsibilities in five general areas:
w Public leadership (business, government, politics)
w Spiritual, religious and cultural leadership
w Educational leadership
w Health, exercise and sports leadership
w Family, fatherhood, and mentorship
Valentine said the conference “is intended for men to come together and feel supported.”
That’s not always the case.
“Often times in general, men feel isolated,” he said.
The conference will take a look at men and their relationships at home, at work and in the community.
“This opportunity is really intentionally served to open that doorway for men to feel connected, to feel heard,” Valentine said.
Alston has been involved in the Mens Conference each year since 2016. He and Valentine said they have seen its impact
“Men have reported how valuable it is to feel heard, to feel supported,” he said.
Others have said they don’t feel so alone following the conference.
Alston said he has spoken to some wives over the years, who said they have seen changes in their husbands following the conference, that they are more talkative and expressive at home.
“There’s a sense of brotherhood and community that’s being created as well,” he said.
Valentine said Kauai’s success with the mens conference is being noticed around the state and the local model could be used to create a statewide mens conference.
While the conference is free and you can just show up Saturday morning, registration is recommended at kauaimensconference.com.