20 For the Next 20
Twenty people to watch
(page 4 of 5)
Photo Courtesy of Yvonne Midkiff
Yvonne Midkiff, 27
Assistant project manager,
Yvonne Midkiff is a fierce combination of brains and beauty. With such an impressive resume, it’s hard to believe she’s still awaiting her 10th high school reunion.
Midkiff was born in the Philippines, raised in Oklahoma and moved to Hawaii four years ago to pursue a master’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Hawaii. She was influential in starting the local chapter of Engineers Without Borders, a nonprofit humanitarian organization that works in poor communities. She is also a Bill Gates Millennium Scholar, recently received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification and is active in the Society of Women Engineers. Oh yeah, and she surfs and models in her spare time.
Five years ago, she was paralyzed when she broke her neck after slipping off a wet rock on Oahu’s Maunawili Falls trail. After being airlifted out, she underwent major surgery and intense rehab to learn how to walk again. Four months later, the former captain of her high school’s basketball and volleyball teams was running and working out.
“The woman knows no boundaries!” says Leslie Miasnik, head of business development and marketing at Pankow and president of the National Association of Women in Construction. “This is a male-dominated field and at times she’s the only woman on the job site, but Yvonne can hold her own and go toe-to-toe with the guys out there.”
Midkiff is currently working on a project at Hickam Air Force Base to restore historic homes from the 1930s to their original condition. She hopes to someday teach at the collegiate level and be a role model for other women looking to advance in science and math-related careers.
Photo Courtesy of Marcus Oshiro
Marcus Oshiro, 50
House finance committee chairman
It is often said that the most powerful legislators are those running the money committees – Ways and Means in the state Senate and Finance in the House. That alone makes Marcus Oshiro someone to be reckoned with.
As finance chairman, Oshiro effectively decides how the money is collected and where it goes – not a happy job these days.
But Oshiro is up to it. Maybe even born for it. His father is the late, legendary Robert Oshiro, also an attorney and legislator whose true claim to fame was his work as a grassroots organizer of many key Democratic political campaigns.
The younger Oshiro (born in the statehood year of 1959) has played a less prominent role in the party. But as a legislator since 1994, he’s been a consistent voice for core Democratic values, and particularly outspoken as a counter-voice to Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.
Lowell Kalapa, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, has appeared before Oshiro and his committee more times than he can count.
“Unlike some of his colleagues, he does his homework,” says Kalapa.
Kalapa contends Oshiro combines social conscience with his father’s drive and a pragmatic recognition of changing political realities. “He is a breath of fresh air,” Kalapa said.
Oshiro disavows ambition beyond his district and legislative duties. But many believe he is destined for an even more powerful leadership position in the Legislature when the time is right.
Photo: Mark Arbeit
Keiki-Pua Dancil, 36
President and CEO,
Hawaii Science and Technology Council
Success came quickly for Keiki-Pua Dancil. While she was still in graduate school at the University of California San Diego, her research on biosensors earned her a patent and was published in the prestigious journal Science. Not surprisingly, many Mainland companies tried hard to recruit her.
But Dancil, a Maui girl, always planned to return to Hawaii. So when local biotech company Trex came looking for Hawaii scientists who wanted to come home, she jumped at the chance. Since then, she’s been in the thick of biotech in Hawaii: first as director of research and development at Trex; then at Chitopure, after a two-year hiatus while she earned an MBA at Harvard.
At HiSciTech, Dancil’s extraordinary background will be important. “I think that Keiki-Pua represents the future of tech and biotechnology in Hawaii,” says board vice-chair David Watumull. “She’s somebody who was born and grew up here. She went to Kamehameha Schools. You know her academic background. And she wants to make tech work in Hawaii.”
She took her new job with a broad vision in mind. “I could work for one company, and work really hard to move that company forward,” she says, “or I could help the whole industry move forward.”
Watumull believes Dancil will be a powerful symbol for technology. “It’s not about rich people from the Mainland,” he says. “It’s about Hawaii’s people having a future. She can represent that concept extremely well – whether it’s at the Legislature, among her peers, or with the traditional power structure, including unions and Bishop Street. I think a lot of people are going to be able to relate to that vision through her.”
Photo: David Croxford
Ted Peck, 43
State energy administrator
The centerpiece of the Lingle administration – and, in many ways, of Hawaii’s burgeoning technology sector – is the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. If it’s successful, HCEI will transform our energy infrastructure, and our economy along with it. The key to that success will likely be the omnipresent Ted Peck.
He began his career in Adm. Rickover’s Navy, coming to Hawaii 17 years ago to decommission a nuclear submarine. After he left the Navy, he worked at the consulting firm Booz Allen, which, under his leadership, grew from a staff of a couple of dozen to more than 200 professionals in Hawaii. “We were very fortunate to get him,” says DBEDT director Ted Liu. “It speaks to how compelling is our path on energy.
One of Peck’s primary roles is as liaison between energy-related businesses and the administration. “The fact that he comes from the private sector means he brings that perspective,” Liu says. “He understands what makes business tick, the economic and financial drivers of getting business done. And I think the business community recognizes that.”
Liu also notes that Peck, as a civil servant rather than a political appointee, will likely long outlast the administration. “HCEI’s target is in 2030. So I view Ted as the continuity for our energy programs.”
For his part, Peck brings a messianic streak to the job. “Right now, it’s clear to me that my calling is to be the continuity for HCEI, to shepherd this transition to a clean-energy future.”
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