Charitable Journeys: Kelly O’Brien and The Pacific Voyaging Society

Jun 14, 2024

Hopping on to a Zoom call with Kelly O’Brien felt like a mix of landing right on Kauaʻi and attending a lecture with your favorite college professor. In front of her zoom background of Hanalei Bay, Kelly joined us in a conversation about her charitable journey. Keep reading to learn more about what inspires Kelly, how she determines where to give, and about the Pacific Voyaging Society- an organization she supports.

“When your life is this good, you say to yourself, how can I share at least something with people who don’t have it? How can I make somebodies life better?”

-Kelly O’Brien

The above quote perfectly encapsulates Kelly’s approach to giving. She lives a fulfilling life- surfing in the morning only miles from her home, teaching business courses in entrepreneurship and strategic management, connecting with her family, supporting the impact of numerous amazing nonprofits, and DJing at Burning Man (check out the photo below!). Kelly is grateful for how wonderful her life is and wants to be able to pay that forward by supporting work that betters the lives of others.

Kelly is passionate about many things, including the environment and cultural conservation. Impact is the primary focus of her charitable decision-making. By looking at the results of an organization’s work, Kelly determines if that organization is a good candidate for her support. Whether donating her capital or her time, as she does with a local food bank, Kelly ensures that the organizations she supports positively impact the communities they serve. If they benefit the people they intend to serve, treat their workers well, keep their promises, and are true to their mission; they may be a good fit for her charitable journey.

The Pacific Voyaging Society is one such group. PVS was founded on a legacy of Pacific Ocean exploration. It seeks to perpetuate the art and science of traditional Polynesian voyaging and the spirit of exploration through experiential educational programs that inspire students and their communities to respect and care for themselves, each other, and their natural and cultural environments. PVS has built multiple voyaging canoes using traditional methods. These canoes are then taken on voyages on which only traditional navigation methods are used- including a worldwide voyage in 2017! If you’d like to learn more, you can visit their website here:

We’re honored to be able to support Kelly on her charitable journey and play a part in the journey of organizations such as PVS. How do you determine which charitable organizations you support? Do you tend to donate your time or your capital? Do you have a specific field of interest you tend to support?

Not sure how to get started on your charitable journey? Feel free to reach out to United Charitable at

Kelly DJing at Burning Man!

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