Mike McCartney, who has served as Gov. David Ige’s chief of staff since 2014, will take over as the new director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
McCartney’s role as chief advisor and policy strategist to the governor had waned since Ige hired Ford Fuchigami as his administrative director in November 2017. Fuchigami took on many of the chief of staff duties, while McCartney was relegated to overseeing community outreach and communications.
The arrangement was questioned in recent weeks by key members of the Legislature during budget briefings.
Fuchigami will continue on as Ige’s administrative director.
“Ford has been a key member of my leadership team, and I value his ability to work with diverse stakeholders and manage multiple priorities. Together, we will continue to make significant progress on my administration’s initiatives,” Ige said in a news release issued today shortly before the start of opening ceremonies of the Legislature.
Ige has also appointed Denise Albano as chairwoman of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture, replacing Scott Enright. As chairwoman, she will also serve as director of the Department of Agriculture.
Albano has served as the Department of Agriculture’s water director since 2016, in which she focused on creating and improving water systems across the state, according to the governor’s office. Prior to that, she served as president of Feed the Hunger Foundation in San Francisco, a public foundation that provides loans and grants to small food operations internationally as well as in California and Hawaii. She also served as president of The Nature Conservancy Hawai‘i.
Ige also reappointed Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser as deputy to the agriculture chairperson, a position she has held since 2015.
The appointments to DBEDT and the Board of Agriculture are subject to Senate confirmation.