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White House to honor civil rights commissioner Iwamoto

    Kim Coco Iwamoto

The White House will honor Hawaii State Civil Rights commissioner Kim Coco Iwamoto Wednesday as one of 10 LGBT elected or appointed officials who are “Harvey Milk Champions of Change.”

The award is given to openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender government officials who promote equality and public service. Iwamoto is transgender.

The event falls on Harvey Milk’s birthday and will recognize these individuals for their commitment to equality and public service.

Iwamoto, a certified therapeutic foster parent, was elected to Hawaii’s State Board of Education in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. She implemented many of the policy recommendations of the Department of Education’s Safe School Community Advisory Committee, and in 2011 drafted the Hawaii Safe Schools Act, which gave the legislature and the governor an opportunity to join the effort to reduce bullying and harassment in public schools. The bill was signed into law later that year.

In 2012, Iwamoto was appointed and confirmed to the five-member Hawaii State Civil Rights Commission. 

“When President Obama posthumously awarded Harvey Milk the Medal of Freedom in 2009, he praised his leadership and courage in running for office. Today, we honor Harvey Milk’s legacy in these 10 outstanding public servants, who will surely inspire the next generation of public servants,” Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Barack Obama, said in a news release.

Video of the event will be streamed live at 9 a.m. Hawaii time Wednesday at To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program and nominate a champion, visit

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