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The Hawaii Business 20 for the Next 20

(page 11 of 21)

    Photo: Mark Arbeit

Jennifer Li Dotson, age 37

Executive director, Mothers Against Drunk Driving-Hawaii

Twenty-seven years after the Hawaii chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving was launched by a group of concerned moms, new mother Jennifer Li Dotson is bringing new life and energy to the cause.

“I want to revitalize MADD-Hawaii and bring on the new parents like me,” says Dotson, who took over as executive director in the midst of the recession, yet expanded the organization and created new fundraising avenues.

The epiphany about her mission came 19 months ago as Dotson inched her car out of the hospital parking lot after giving birth with “this little precious bundle” nestled in her infant safety seat.

“This is why I’m doing what I’m doing,” says the marathoner and mountain climber (she's scaled Everest), whose past experience includes working in the U.S. Embassy in London; serving as an international media liaison for the governor; working with the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong; developing educational conferences for the U.S.-China Business Council in Hong Kong; and coordinating local health programs for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The daughter of Chinese immigrant parents who fled Vietnam as Saigon fell, Dotson was born in Hawaii but speaks both Cantonese and Mandarin. She graduated from Georgetown University with an undergraduate degree in foreign service, then earned a master’s in comparative economics from the London School of Economics. She has also studied at Beijing Normal University, National Chengchi University and Chinese University of Hong Kong.

At MADD she launched a new fundraiser last year – called the MADD Cab affair – that raised $126,000; opened an office on the Big Island; and helped push through the state ignition interlock (in-car breathalyzer) legislation that took effect Jan. 1.

“MADD doesn’t undertake any endeavor unless there are statistics to back up what we’re doing,” says Dotson. “For instance, across the nation there’s been a 30 percent reduction in alcohol-related fatalities after interlock legislation took effect.”


1. Randy Baldemor
2. James Bennett
3. Kalei Cadinha-Puaa
4. Kainoa Daines
5. Matthew Delaney
6. Mark Duda
7. Charles Hew-Len
8. Michael Kaleikini
9. Daniel Leuck
10. Jennifer Li Dotson
11. Bryan Luke
12. Wesley Machida
13. Makani Maeva
14. Cameron Nekota
15. Robert Piper
16. Carol Reimann
17. Claire Sullivan
18. Michael Tresler
19. Raymond Vara, Jr.
20. Aulani Wilhelm


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