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Inspiration has a way of popping up at the worst times…but when it comes, you have to heed the call. This year’s Pele Awards honors the true creative spirit—and the people who unabashedly drop everything to capture the idea, nail down the concept, and transform an assignment into award-winning work.

About the Pele Awards

The Pele Awards have been a part of Hawaii’s advertising and design community for more than 40 years. The Pele Awards is one of fifteen National District Competitions for the American Advertising Awards (also known as the ADDYs). The Pele Gold winners in all national categories are sent to the National Finals of the American Advertising Awards Competition to represent District 13. It’s designed to recognize excellence in advertising and design in the State of Hawaii for the past calendar year.

2023 Pele Show

Meet the Judges

Matt Fera

Creative Director, Eversana



“I trademarked the phrase, ‘Let’s take this to level Fera’, in case it ever catches on.”

Matt, or Matty Fresh as he’s often called thanks to his break-dancing skills back in Michigan, is a Creative Director at Eversana in Chicago+ Kansas where he’s working on many fun projects. Prior to that he was a Creative lead at McGarryBowen on Western Union, Disney, Rust-Oleum, Marriott, American Express and new business.

Before making the move to Chicago, he worked at numerous Detroit agencies including Doner, Campbell-Ewald, and Team Detroit. Past accounts include Chevy, US Navy, Kaiser Permanente, Ford, Lincoln, Chiquita, La-Z-Boy, Alltel Wireless and OnStar. A recipient of the DraftFCB employee of the month a record 9 times, he’s also helped MacGyver save the world, true story. Growing up with few friends, young Matt befriended small toys, inanimate objects and woodland creatures. He currently lives in Chicago’s northern suburbs where he spends time with his wife and 2 kids, and way too much time wondering why he can never tan.

He also writes his own bios but wants you to think someone else is writing them, so he seems important.

In addition to being a Creative Director he’s also a seasonal “Fitting Room Grievance Counselor” (during the transition from Winter to Spring),

EVERSANA INTOUCH: A Full-Service Agency Network

David Mesfin

Creative Director

Innocean USA, Huntington Beach, California


David Mesfin - Creative Director, multi-disciplinary designer

A Creative Director with 15+ years of experience with award-winning integrated campaign background including Super Bowl, FIFA, NFL, and global launch campaigns.

Creative designer with skills leading project teams. Managing key accounts and creating global partnerships to increase brand awareness through traditional, digital, social, and experiential marketing campaigns. Experience collaborating with C-suite leaders from Genesis, Hyundai, Discord, Honda, Network Associates, Sony, Adidas, Oakley, Toyota, Isuzu, Farmers Insurance, Neutrogena, La-Z-Boy, Mandalay Bay, Coldwell Banker, LA Phil, AT&T, and Los Angeles Master Chorale to communicate their company’s vision through creative and marketing. Consummate experience in creative direction, conception, art, and graphic design, user experience, event coordination, emerging media, and leadership. Fluent in English, Amharic, and Greek.

Awards: Super Bowl Sliver: Best of AdMeter Commercials over 25 years; One Show; Cannes; Clio; Webby; EFFIE; Communication Arts; Google Creative Sandbox; OC and LA ADDY; DIGIDAY; TED | Ads Worth Spreading; American Advertising Federation; FWA; The A-List Hollywood Awards; IAB Mixx; and Graphis.

Wade in the Water: A Journey into Black Surfing and Aquatic Culture. Director, writer, and producer of a full feature independent documentary film that delve into the 1,000-year-old tradition of Black surfing and aquatic culture from Africa to the Americas.

Co-Chair of Innocean Worldwide diversity council. Establish the first charter, mission, and objective, build an equitable and instructional environment.

Associate member of IADAS (The International Academy of Digital Art and Science). The IADAS was established to help drive the creative, technical & professional progress of the internet and evolving forms of digital media. Presented by The Academy, The Webby & The Lovie Awards recognizes excellence in digital creativity, establishing best practices on a yearly basis, and thus pushing the standards of web development continually higher.

Mentor/Advisor ONE School an intensive portfolio program designed to teach creative skills required to work at the world's top ad agencies.

Mentor/Coach of 4A's Foundation MAIP (Multicultural Advertising Intern Program)  is a fellowship specifically for college/graduate school students of color looking to become a part of the advertising industry.

Amharic (Ethiopian)


IADAS (The International Academy of Digital Art and Science) 
Anthem Awards / Judge
ONE SCHOOL Advisor/Mentor
4A’s Foundation MAIP (Multicultural Advertising Intern Program) Mentor/Coach
Early Education Ethiopia Board Member
Black Surfers Collective

Tricia Ting

Global Creative Director, ViewSonic

Taipei, Taiwan


Tricia has a knack for helping to transform companies into brands. Before Crispin Porter became known by its cooler single-moniker "Crispin," Tricia was there launching the BMW MINI in the US and winning Cannes Lions for Truth. Before StrawberryFrog became known simply as "The Frog," she was there leading the small business division of the Microsoft account. Yes, Tricia's resume reads like a "Best Agencies" report card. And yes, her award shelf is full of Lions, Pencils, Bowls and other statues. But the bigger story about Tricia is that she is a rare combination of artist & art director, of creativity & business. In fact, Tricia has illustrated children's books, co-founded a bakery with her husband and has helped lead start-ups.  So while her credentials alone are enough to make any advertising agency – or advertiser, for that matter – knock on her door, the reality of Tricia Ting is so much more than that. Meet her once, and we think you'll agree.

Carla Butwin

Creative Director, Doner

Detroit, Michigan


Carla is an award-winning creative with over 13 years of experience working with national and global brands like Tylenol, JBL, Oreo, Siemens, Bloomberg Media, McDonald’s and Anheuser-Busch.

Her work spans nontraditional and traditional media – from creating a TikTok challenge featuring Giannis Antetokounmpo garnering almost 8 billion views, to publishing the book If Animals Could Talk, that went viral and was featured on The Huffington Post, People, Mashable, Refinery 29, and the Daily Mail, among other publications. Carla’s work has been recognized by Cannes Lions, the One Show, Webbys, and her book was an Amazon bestseller.

With a background in painting and fine art, she brings a unique and unexpected perspective when approaching any project. Her passions include contemporary art, fresh pastries and her rescue dog Rufus.

Doner | A Full Service Advertising Agency - Doner Detroit

Brian Chin

Group Creative Director, VaynerMedia

New York City


Brian is an award- and biz-winning integrated creative leader with over 15 years of industry experience and a full head of hair. A strategic, UX-obsessed attention-hacker with a passion for social and digital. He’s helped lead teams, grow departments, and build ones for prolific modern brands across verticals: from automotive and tech, to retail and entertainment.


Kiran Koshy


Los Angeles, CA


Kiran is a director with Los Angeles-based production company, Raucous Content.

Kiran’s work has a distinct flavor to it. Subtle comedy driven by finely nuanced performances, impeccable art direction, and clever visual storytelling—often with a critter involved.

Before becoming a director, Kiran spent more than a decade as an agency art director in US, working on some of the biggest brands in the world. A truly global soul, at home in the East and the West, Kiran has an innate and deep understanding of people, consumer behavior, culture, brands, humor, and advertising. A breakout commercial directing talent, he made the new director shortlists at Shoot, LIA and the Kinsale Sharks, and won multiple Clios and Epicas while still on the agency side. He was included in the Top 10 Global Directors list on in his first year as a director. Represented world wide, Kiran pursues the creation of great advertising in the farthest corners of the globe.

Susan Mersch

Executive Creative Director, VMLY&R

Detroit, MI


Susan brings two decades of agency experience leading teams and creating work for some of the biggest automakers in the world and some of the smallest businesses on the block. It’s that diverse roster of work across all different mediums that keeps the work exciting for her. Currently she is Executive Creative Director at VMLY&R in Detroit, MI. In her role, she leads creative for the Ford Owner Experience which includes everything from vehicle service to customer experiences to parts to credit. Prior to that, she was SVP/Executive Creative Director at GTB. There she led a team responsible for Digital Experiences and Brand Activations for Ford. She’s also led the SUV work and worked on the car and truck businesses for both Ford and Lincoln. Earlier in her tenure there, she wrangled the agency’s pro bono efforts including The United Way, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, The Arthritis Foundation and several others. Prior to GTB, she held positions at BBDO and FCB where she worked on Jeep and Chrysler. She earned her ad chops at Doner ordering people’s dinner and working on everything from food to fashion. In her free time, you’ll likely find her on the sidelines of her kids’ games or enjoying the outdoors. She resides in Detroit with her husband where they’re working on their biggest collaboration to date - attempting to raise two boys to be good humans.

Ad Person Of the Year



Marketing Specialist, Hickam Federal Credit Union


Despite many challenges during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Priscilla Zheng maintained a positive attitude. Through her leadership and guidance, she rallied the troops and continued to create a sense of community by continuing the AdVise mentorship program, creating online programming and events, and ensuring that the public service campaign continued.

In her spare time, Priscilla gives back to the community as a Speech and Debate coach for Aiea High School and Farrington High School. Her impeccable work ethic is apparent in her day job and through her volunteer activities.



Director of Photography, UPSTREAM HAWAII


Born and raised in Hawaii, David Sato has nearly two decades of experience in video production and cinematography. While a student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa, he began his career at KHON where he shot news stories, produced station commercials and edited special interest packages. After college, he joined Pacific Focus, where he worked his way up the ladder as a production assistant, grip to Director/Director of Photography. 

In 2009, David formed his own production company, Upstream Hawaii. Over the years, he has partnered with many advertising agencies, film production companies and global brands to create award-winning commercials, documentaries, and digital content. His client list includes ESPN, Disney, Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, McDonald's, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Hawaii Pacific Health and more.



Vice President of Marketing & Communications, FCH


In his current position, Kevin Yim has led the process of revitalizing the Zippy’s brand through design, new digital services, a new social media presence, and renovations to the locations. He continues to work on the deeper digital transformation of Hawaii’s leading food brand. Before Zippy’s, he led marketing teams at Hawaiian Airlines and Bank of Hawaii. At Hawaiian Airlines, he spearheaded consumer marketing efforts around the globe.

Before Hawaiian Airlines, he led the branding efforts at Bank of Hawaii. He currently serves on the boards of HUGS Hawaii, the Aloha Diaper Bank, Goodwill Contract Services of Hawaii, and the Movers & Shakas program. He is a former director for Goodwill Industries Hawaii, Pacific Islanders in Communications, and the Oahu Visitors Bureau. He is a Kamehameha Schools graduate and the University of San Francisco.





A New York native, Chuck Cohen came to the Islands more than three decades ago and quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with in Hawaiʻi media. In Honolulu, he served as media director at Ogilvey & Mather, The Schiller Group, Milici Valenti Ng Pak, Starr-Seigle Communications, and for the last 15 years at Anthology Marketing Group.

His formidable New York experience included tenure at famed powerhouses BBDO Advertising, Ted Bates, and Cunningham & Walsh. 

Chuck has long been known by his peers in client, agency and media worlds as an innovative strategist, out-of-the-box thinker, and generous teacher to the next generation of professionals.

He represents the best – if sometimes rough-hewn – of the best in dedication to his craft, his clients, and his teammates.



President—Media Buy Paul, LLC


Paul Lam is the Governor of AAF District 13, is the Hawaiʻi representative on the National AAF Board of Directors and the AAF Council of Governors, and is the immediate past Chair of the AAF Western Region.

 As the Pele Awards chairman, year after year, he is given the daunting task of bringing the industry together to honor the best in Advertising and Design.

Most recognizable is Paul’s commitment to continue the Pele Awards despite the pandemic. Paul also works diligently to ‘grow’ the industry pipeline through the creation of the High School Pele Awards, now in its 5th year. The first and only program of its kind in the nation which helps get youth interested and engaged in Advertising and Design.

 In 2018, he opened up his own media buying and consulting firm. Today, he serves numerous clients including large and small businesses.

Help Nominate the 2023 
Ad People of the year!

2022 Pele Winners Reel

Save the Date

All “Professional” work entered in the 2023 Pele Awards Competition must have first appeared in media between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022. 

All “College” work entered in the 2023 Pele Awards Competition must have been created between January 1, 2022 and February 28, 2023.

Please see 2023 Pele Information Guide for specific entry rules, guidelines, and categories.

November 2022
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Thursday, March 2, 2023
March 6 to 19, 2023 (virtual)

This section is for the Professional and College Division.