Tuesday, March 31, 2015         

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Activists often profess to work on behalf of those with no voice at the table, and in Marjorie Ziegler's case, the assertion is literally true. As executive director of the Conservation Council for Hawaii, she strives to protect Hawaii's native plants and animals — species that depend on human intervention to undo ravages caused by mankind's earlier missteps.

What helps Scott Morishige remain focused on the goals of his agency is witnessing those success stories, the people who've come back from years of living on the streets and are on a better path.

Rachael Wong has been at the helm of the state Department of Human Services for just 2 1/2 months and already has made it clear how she intends to run the department.

A deep-rooted commitment to social justice motivates Jacce S. Mikulanec, whether he is advocating for gay rights, universal preschool or the preservation of the Honouliuli Internment Camp.

Richard Ha says he learned his own can-do spirit from his father, who worked the land before him on Hawaii island. Farming has always been a challenge, he said earlier this week, but now the challenges are starting to overcome even the sunniest optimist.

Sierra Club Hawaii is currently between directors, so the environmental nonprofit is taking the team approach toward the annual mission of lobbying at the Legislature.

Harry Saunders has long known that developers often get a bad rap in Hawaii. He is, after all, president of Castle Cooke Hawaii, which has developed more than 20,000 homes in Hawaii and currently is seeking to build the controversial 3,500-home Koa Ridge project in Central Oahu.

It was a bus strike that got Chad Taniguchi back on his bike. The executive director of the Hawaii Bicycling League was a routine cyclist until he was 25 years old, but then fell out of the habit. In 2003, at age 52, he started commuting to work by bike again, when labor strife stalled his usual ride.

Wesley Lo is Maui region chief executive officer for the state's Hawaii Health Systems Corp. and believes an agreement that his region has been negotiating with a potential private partner, Hawaii Pacific Health, could be a model for statewide application.

Located at the foot of Diamond Head, Waikiki Elementary School has test scores to prove that something special is going on there. Moreover, Caine is not the first teacher from that school to be named state public school teacher of the year; colleague Matthew Lawrence was chosen in 2014.

In case anyone is wondering: The new CEO of Kamehameha Schools does take occasional "ribbing" about being a graduate of Punahou School. (He met his wife, Kimi, while they were attending UCLA, but their three kids are part of Team Buffanblu, too.)

Bob Marchant uses every bit of his life experience — as a hotel executive, a college instructor, a pastor and time in the military — in his work as executive director of the River of Life Mission, abiding by its promise to be "a friend to the friendless."

Susan Chandler says she had no particular opinions about medical marijuana before she agreed to be facilitator for Hawaii's Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task force — and as a formal matter she still is neutral when conducting the business of the legislatively created body.

Esther Kia‘aina, the youngest of seven children, was born in Guam, where her father was a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy. So her appointment as the assistant secretary for insular affairs — the part of the Department of the Interior that deals with the U.S. territories, including Guam — feels a bit like a homecoming, a chance to give back.

Barely two weeks as chief of the city's new Office of Strategic Development, Sandra Pfund is working to fast-track housing on city property, especially for homeless people who need "wraparound" mental-health and social services.

Ron Iwami wasn't sure in 2005 that taking on the state's Hawaii Community Development Authority and original "Big Five" member Alexander & Baldwin Inc. was something he should do.

There are parts of the state's information technology system that were built before Keone Kali, 43, was even born. Kali became the state's chief information officer in February after the departure of Sonny Bhagowalia.

Jeffrey Kissel has largely weathered the first open-enrollment period of his tenure as executive director of the Hawaii Health Connector.

Jennifer Sabas has been keeping busy since her former boss, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, died in December 2012 at age 88. Resume highlights at the moment for the senator's former chief of staff include executive director of Move Oahu Forward, a pro-rail organization she joined in May 2013.

Maj. Gen. Darryll Wong has, besides the unusual spelling of his first name, a distinction: At 64, he said, he's among the last military officers from the Vietnam era still serving in full-time status.

"Be True to Your School" is more than a song to University of Hawaii alumnus Jay Shidler. It's a personal mantra, and a rallying cry to likeminded alumni to support what the business mogul considers Hawaii's most important institution — even if they can't commit anything close to the $100 million that he has.

Resilience is more than an individual personal trait, it's a collective community asset, one that must be learned, taught and handed down through the generations.

Michael Titterton is aware of the many concerns about Hawaii Public Radio's semi-annual on-air fundraising drives, but for now, he says, there's probably no better alternative.

The Navy has been a part of Steve Colon's life, one way or another, for more than three decades. Colon, Hawaii region president for Hunt Cos., left active duty in 1988 and retired from the reserves as a captain in 2006.

The executive director of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women welcomes the opportunity for a "culture shift" in the way Honolulu police respond to domestic violence in the wake of a highly publicized incident involving a police sergeant.

Sid McWhirter is Hanauma Bay's version of the reluctant warrior. As president of the nonprofit Friends of Hanauma Bay, he has become somewhat of a thorn in the side of some city officials for his persistence in seeking answers about why operations at the world-famous Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve Park have, in some respects, been deficient.

On Wednesday, Alan Oshima will move into the Hawaiian Electric Co. president and CEO's office -- but he's already been a presence at its core for several years.

Jenai Wall is a leading Hawaii business executive who believes in supporting the communities that support her famiy's businesses. It's a tradition started by her father, Maurice "Sully" Sullivan, who started the Foodland supermarket chain in 1948, opening its first store at Market City in Kaimuki.

In the 14 months that Ivan Lui-Kwan has chaired the board of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, the controversial Oahu fixed-rail project has emerged from an obstacle course -- a daunting one by any standard.

Hawaii Medical Service Association, as the state's largest health-insurance company, has always been a titanic presence in the Hawaii health care industry, and as its president and CEO, Michael Gold always had a voice that carried.

Political iconoclast Ed Case was back in the media spotlight on primary-election night, but not because he was running for office.

Briefly, before heading off to law school, Judge R. Mark Browning, 59, spent a few years as a teacher at 'Iolani School. That came with its own set of challenges, everything from instruction in math -- never his strong suit, Browning admitted -- to, upon the conversion to co-educational classrooms, the first sex-education class at the formerly boys-only campus.

To say that Simon Engler has an adventuresome spirit is putting it mildly. The computer scientist, who specializes in robotics and artificial intelligence, continually pushes his physical and intellectual limits, a mindset that makes him a natural for the Hawai'i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation.

Kristin Izumi-Nitao is executive director of the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission, which especially during election season commands attention for its role in making sure the many political candidates comply with laws intended to ensure the integrity and transparency of the campaign finance process.

Ruthann Quitiquit's office is filled with the kind of bric-a-brac that marks someone who's worked somewhere a long time. "I grew up here," she said. "I came here when I was 33 years old. I'm going to be 67 in October."

In his rare free moments at home in Kailua, Wayne Pfeffer does his best to enjoy his new Hawaii environment. At 62, the two daughters are grown, he has remarried and makes sure he takes what time remains to head to the beach and bike paths.

Lance Wilhelm earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1988, and shortly after began his long career in construction.

David Striph didn't rise in the ranks at Howard Hughes Corp. quickly; it happened instantaneously. Well into his career in real estate financing for a bank, he struck up a friendship over a major loan with David Weinreb and Grant Herlitz, who at the time wore different hats.

Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock is originally from Singapore, which could help explain her reaction to the state of Chinatown in Honolulu these days.

Carole Hayashino's work as president and executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii is at once deeply personal and tied to the overall history of Hawaii and the United States.

Sheila Beckham took over as chief executive officer of the Waikiki Health Center five years ago, at the peak of the recession, so she's seen the clinics' target population swell and, in particular, homelessness increase.

Michael Hansen isn't asking for much. After all, as president of the Hawaii Shippers' Council, it's not like he's seeking repeal of the entire federal Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920.

Jonathan Parrish had a moment to reflect this week, right after the close of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra's 2013-2014 concert series and the soon-to-be announced full season for the next year, starting Sept. 13.

Jane Sawyer has been on the staff of the U.S. Small Business Administration in Hawaii since 1993, which has given her a good vantage point from which to assess business trends in the state.

Former Kaiser High School Principal John Sosa has experienced the highs and lows of working in Hawaii’s public schools more intensely than most Department of Education employees

Hospital administration is a lot about numbers, and Susan Murray, chief operating officer of the soon-to-open Queen's Medical Center-West Oahu, has a lot of them right at her fingertips.

Scott Enright earned his bachelor's degree in psychology and philosophy from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, but somehow ended up having a long career in agriculture.

Talk about rush-hour traffic stress. Michelle Del Rosario confronted it, both barrels, practically the moment she stepped off the plane from Maui Feb. 20, petitions to form the Hawaii Independent Party in hand.

Honored by the UH Board of Regents for teaching excellence, Danielle Conway publishes widely and has traveled the world giving lectures and working on special projects, including a stint as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Australia.

Tony Gill is a second-generation labor attorney and former Democratic Party of Hawaii official who believes that only people who publicly support the Democratic Party of Hawaii should be able to pick its candidates.

Richard Rosenblum, 63, was "a very happy fella" in retirement on Hawaii island in 2008 when a recruiter happened along and pitched a new job opportunity to him: president and chief executive officer of Hawaiian Electric Co.

The Blood Bank of Hawaii is not at the forefront of changes that make it easier for people to donate blood, and that's by design. Medical Director Dr. Randal Covin describes the center as "very conservative" in its approach, with the safety of blood donors and the patients who receive their lifesaving gifts of foremost concern.

Simeon Acoba Jr. is the latest victim of a Hawaii law that forces judges to retire at age 70, but he's actually OK with that. "That is what the law is, and that's something I basically accept," said Acoba.

The ocean has been part of Andrew Rossiter's life, practically from the day he was born. Rossiter, the director of the Waikiki Aquarium, grew up in Wales, "from the side where if you go 100 yards, you're in the Irish Sea," where he and his mates would go diving for fun.

Tom Yamachika was as surprised as anyone when Lowell Kalapa, the widely known, respected and liked president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, died in December at age 64.

John Holzman, who is departing from the University of Hawaii Board of Regents, has been sitting at that table for all of the most turbulent, headline-grabbing episodes.

Just about every good thing in life starts with a deep-rooted sense of community, to John Reppun's way of thinking. His large extended family is synonymous with the preservation of a sustainable, productive, rural lifestyle on Windward Oahu.

Dr. Christopher Happy has been on the job as Honolulu's chief medical examiner since late November and already he can tell you that some changes at the city morgue in Iwilei are going to have to be made soon.

The ironic element in Corey Rosenlee's work life: The most outspoken advocate for air-conditioned classrooms in public schools, after years of teaching in a sweltering environment, now has one.

Georgenne "GG" Weisenfeld moved to Oahu from New York City six years ago seeking a better life for her family, which includes her husband and two children.

Teri Orton has been general manager of the Hawai‘i Convention Center technically for a month now, though actually she started on the job about two weeks before.

At an earlier stage in his working life, Doug Cole had a real estate license and learned more about development law while he was studying to be an attorney. So he knows all about blueprints.

Marti Townsend walks to work most days, a 30-minute trip from Makiki to her office on King Street that not only serves as good exercise but also keeps her connected to Honolulu's cityscape at the street level.

Gordon Ito, insurance commissioner for the state of Hawaii, has an inbox filled with all matters relating to regulating insurance in the islands, with the exception of paying workers' compensation benefits. Earlier this week, the Insurance Division released rate guides for health, homeowner and car policies, posting them online (cca.hawaii.gov/ins).

Bruce Kim signed on as executive director of the state Office of Consumer Protection in July 2011 and it's been a wild ride ever since.

Charles Totto, executive director of the Honolulu Ethics Commission, like any other attorney, recognizes the importance of precision where words are involved. The words that have been causing a clash between his staff and that of the city Corporation Counsel are "administratively attached."

David Lassner has spent much of his University of Hawaii career in the virtual world: Information technology, his specialty, is like that.

Alan Downer arrived early this month in the Kapolei offices of the State Historic Preservation Division, an agency that has been under the gun over the past several years.

Diane Ragone laughed at the suggestion that the legendary Johnny Appleseed might be her role model, but the parallel is hard to ignore: Nurseryman Johnny Appleseed, aka John Chapman, traveled the North America continent in the late 1700s to encourage the propagation of apple trees.

Christopher Chun's job as executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association keeps him immersed in sports all year round, one of the many things he loves about his job at the nonprofit organization, which helps nearly 100 public and private schools engage student-athletes in healthy competition and ensures that they have the opportunity to compete in state-level tournaments in a diverse array of sports.

Dennis Brown is the longest-serving president and chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters Hawaii, with 15 years at the helm and years doing other social service work. Even his graduate degree in urban planning had a focus on social program planning and administration.

Sheri Sakamoto joined Retail Merchants of Hawaii as its president in July with clear ideas about what she wanted to accomplish. "I'm hoping I can help educate everyone about the impact that retailers make on our economy as a whole," Sakamoto said Tuesday. "I don't think a lot of people understand that."

Geologist Chip Fletcher loves what he does so much it's hard to know where the work ends and hobbies begin. He loves being around the ocean and shoreline — he lives near Kailua Beach with his family — so if the research puts him offshore with students to collect core samples, he'll never complain.

Considering how long the debate and planning for rail have gone on already, Harrison Rue could be seen as coming in at one of the later chapters of the saga.

Yong Zhao is no fan of the Common Core standards. Why risk the very traits that made America great — ingenuity, confidence and entrepreneurial zeal — in a quest for conformity in U.S. public schools?

Clare Hanusz is one of Hawaii's better known immigration attorneys and advocates, thanks partly to her involvement in a criminal case that ended in 2011 against the owners of a local farming company accused of illegally importing and abusing dozens of farm workers from Thailand.

In 15 years of running JobQuest Hawaii, the state’s largest employment fair, Beth Busch has seen and heard just about every job-hunting circumstance.

Founding a public charter school in Waimanalo with legendary Hawaiian navigator Nainoa Thompson brings Robert Witt full circle in his own educational journey.

Sherry Menor-McNamara achieved several milestones when she became president of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii at the beginning of September — both for herself and the venerable 162-year-old business organization.

After a globe-trotting career, both as a naval officer and in his profession of animal care, Jeffrey Mahon's latest post offers a kind of homecoming.

Ernest Lau is in a position to see aspects of Oahu's water supply the rest of us would rather miss: lines running through old communities, right beneath the sidewalks; exposed water pipes showing a level of corrosion that surely signals a break ahead.

Wanting to become involved in organized labor as "tools of Hawaii's people," Eric Gill dropped out of college after one year and chose a job as a hotel dishwasher as the deliberate avenue toward union leadership.

Randall Roth has been a "name in the news" in Hawaii for a long time, most recently as a co-plaintiff in a lawsuit against the city's $5.2 billion rail transit system, currently before the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. A decision is expected any day now, including on whether it is even within that court's jurisdiction to decide on it just yet.

Rich Bettini never envisioned a professional career in Hawaii. But one rainy day while he visited friends, an opening in Waianae caught his eye and the friends advised him it might be pleasant to check out a job some place where it likely was sunny.

Avery Chumbley says he didn't feel like a captain taking over the Titanic when he accepted the role as chairman of the financially beleaguered state hospital system in 2009.

The first thing visitors to Rockne Freitas' office notice is the spectacular koa desk, which has come with him on a few of his recent administrative postings.

Having settled in at a newly purchased central headquarters in Makiki, Catholic Charities Hawaii has launched a "Futures Campaign: Building a Bridge to Tomorrow," with a goal of raising $6.3 million over the next three years.

Within a year or so in downtown Honolulu, there will be a new $250,000 art piece dedicated to Hawaii's U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye. Sometime after that, there will be another $250,000 art piece honoring the late U.S. Rep. Patsy T. Mink.

Until Ray Soon urged him to apply as director, Atta hadn't really thought of leaving his job of 25 years at the planning and architectural firm Group 70 International, where he was a principal.

Sandra Dawson has been shepherding plans for the Thirty Meter Telescope through Hawaii's regulatory labyrinth for the past five years, and now, pending resolution of one last appeal, construction of the estimated $1.4 billion astronomy endeavor near the top of Mauna Kea is poised to begin.

Roger Morton is happy to show off the 21-acre Oahu Transit Services bus complex near Middle Street, recently expanded to position bus transfers near the planned Dillingham rail station.

Alicia Moy has started a new phase in her life in Hawaii in more ways than one. At 35, the recently appointed president and chief executive officer of Hawai‘iGas had overseen investments in the utility from New York where she worked for Macquarie Infrastructure Co., now the parent company.

A year after graduating from Princeton, Nicole Velasco was sitting at her job at a television and film production media office in New York City when she got an email in 2009 from a friend about "Furlough Fridays" in public schools in Hawaii.

The arts and international cultures come together in Eva Laird Smith's personal biography as well as her resume.

Jim Howe had three career choices not long after returning to Hawaii with a bachelor's degree in econometrics from the University of California at Santa Barbara and spending a couple years working for Hyatt Hotels: Manage the dining room at the Waialae Country Club, work for First Federal Savings & Loan as its "IRA/Keogh guy," or become a lifeguard.

Raymond Vara, newly promoted to the top job at Hawai‘i Pacific Health, is bullish about the future of an industry in the midst of enormous change.

Departing prestigious Ohio State University at Columbus, Ohio, for Honolulu to take charge of the University of Hawaii's athletic programs was anything but easy for Ben Jay.

It's only been a few years since the city ended its hiatus from any housing agenda, an interval that lasted about two decades. Talk about your deferred maintenance.

The 60-year-old Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, is about to embark on another deep-sea voyage aboard the traditional Hawaiian sailing vessel Hokule‘a, this time around the world.

Bishop Larry Silva, the first Hawaii-born man to hold that title, has had eight years to settle into his job as head of the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu, and he does look settled.

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