20 For the Next 20
Twenty people to watch
(page 2 of 5)
Photo: David Croxford
Junior Atisanoe, 49
state Department of Human Services and Hawaii Public Housing Authority
For many of the homeless on the Waianae Coast, the surest way off the beach probably passes through Lautoa Atisanoe Jr., better known to everyone as Junior.
Junior is the state’s point man in a program that connects homeless people in West Oahu with a wide variety of services. Actually, he’s more than the point man; he is the program. With no staff, no office and no dedicated budget, Junior works tirelessly to link the homeless with jobs, shelter and especially the social and financial counseling they need to move off the beach for good. It’s all about education, Junior says. “We can’t just have people live in homes and not know how to stay in a home.”
But he notes that you have to build trust with people before they’ll begin to accept help. “I’m looking at starting something called Beachside Aloha Services,” he says. He envisions on-the-job training programs, education for young mothers, and counseling about transitional and low-income housing – all on the beach. “What we’re going to do is go down there and start educating them on the beach. Telling them, ‘If you leave the beach, here’s what we have for you.’ ”
Junior knows this will be tough work. “I cannot say I love my job,” he says. “But there’s a joy in my job. Thank God, every day I can try to make a difference for somebody.”
Photo Courtesy of Kyle Chock
Kyle Chock, 37
Pacific Resource Partnership
When the Hawaii Carpenters Union wants to take a stand on big development issues such as rail transit and the Thirty Meter Telescope, it sends Kyle Chock to advocate for the union’s 7,000 members and the state’s top contractors.
Chock is a classic case of local boy makes good: He’s honest, sincere, humble, smart and knows how to get the job done. His staff says he’s a workaholic who often rants things such as: “You know how we get rewarded for hard work? More work!”
For the past five years, the Saint Louis School alumnus has championed fair labor practices and in 2008, launched the Play Fair in Hawaii campaign to encourage developers to adhere to the rules governing Hawaii’s construction industry.
“Kyle is one of the key leaders who will ensure the viability of the state’s construction industry,” says Ron Taketa, financial secretary and business representative for the HCU. “He will continue to play a significant role in the future of our state’s economic growth and recovery.”
Last year, Chock was influential in creating a carpentry preapprenticeship program with the Department of Hawaiian Homelands that allows Native Hawaiian beneficiaries to become carpenter apprentices who then help build homes for other Native Hawaiians. He also serves on the state Land Use Commission and other nonprofit boards such as the Lanakila Pacific Foundation and Child and Family Service.
“I enjoy the fact that my job has generational impact,” Chock says. “There’s a strong sense of responsibility that comes with that so I always want to make sure I do things the right way.”
Photo Courtesy of Matthews Hamabata
Matthews Hamabata, 56
The Kohala Center
Colleagues describe Matthews Hamabata as the “then what?” guy because he has the brains, connections and vision to turn big ideas into reality.
A native of Hanapepe, Kauai, Hamabata has leveraged his East Coast experience and network to attract big money and talent. He’s grown the center’s annual operating budget from $15,000 in 2001 to $4 million last year, allowing for increased environmental research and education. Hamabata, a former dean at Haverford College in Philadelphia and professor at Yale University, has also been able to forge partnerships with national research powerhouses such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cornell University.
“We want to grow while remaining small,” Hamabata says. “We’re an example of how a rural community can leapfrog into a global-knowledge economy and participate in an international arena – and do it well.”
Under Hamabata’s leadership, TKC has become a premier advocate for energy sustainability and food self-reliance. It has also conducted important research that has led to county legislation and implemented programs, such as the Hawaii Island School Gardens Network and the Kohala Watershed Partnership, to help the community thrive ecologically, economically, culturally and socially.
“Matt’s philosophy is not about supporting science at any expense. It’s about developing science in conjunction with and respect for the land, people and culture,” says Roberta Chu, president of TKC’s board. “His greatest accomplishment has been his ability to build a team of people that converts theory into actual results – and the whole island and state will benefit as a result.”
Photo: Mark Arbeit
Kippen de Alba Chu, 45
After six years studying international business in Paris and Bologna, Italy, 13 years as a legislative staffer and a couple of more years as a lobbyist for the insurance industry, Kippen de Alba Chu may not have seemed like the obvious choice when he was selected to run Iolani Palace in 2006. “I remember asking the search committee why they were considering me,” he says. But the choice now seems providential.
Puchi Romig, president of the board of directors of the Friends of Iolani Palace, points out that de Alba Chu has garnered support for the museum among legislators and government officials. As the chair of the Statehood Commission, he expanded the civic role of the palace. Even his time abroad has been useful. “He has a world vision for the palace,” Romig says, noting that it has been nominated as a World Heritage Site. “Basically, he’s the best thing that’s happened to us this century.”
He’s also been a kind of ambassador. “When I first started at the palace, there had been a very strong resistance to engaging the activist groups,” de Alba Chu says. “That was something that I set out to change.” For example, despite some controversy, Onipaa – Queen Liliuokalani’s birthday – is finally celebrated on the palace grounds. Even after the occasional palace takeover, he still reaches out to Native Hawaiian groups.
“No one should underestimate the power of building bridges,” he says, “even if, at the time that you build one, it’s almost like it’s a bridge to nowhere.”
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