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The Hawaii Business 20 for the Next 20

(page 16 of 21)

    Photo: Courtesy of Robert Piper

Robert Piper, age 45

Executive director, Honolulu Community Action Program

Honolulu Community Action Program served 12,000 families last year during Robert Piper’s first year there and the number will grow under his direction.

“HCAP has been around since 1965 and done tremendous work, and it’s a legacy I hope to build upon,” Piper says. “I’ve wanted to grow our partnerships with different service providers and businesses in our community. ... As we all help each other, we rise on the same tide.”

Piper served as deputy director of the state budget and finance office under Gov. Linda Lingle, after acting as Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona's executive assistant for five years.

Piper has a law degree and an MBA, and was just starting his own legal practice when tapped by Aiona. Before that he had gone through the management-training program at Bank of Hawaii, where he represented Bankoh on the HCAP board.

“As a child I was taught the importance of giving back to our community,” says Piper, who was the first in his family to go to college. “As an adult I saw the necessity of doing so.”

HCAP is a nonprofit that provides human services to impoverished communities on Oahu. It already has the state’s largest Head Start preschool program, but Piper envisions new programs, including ones that support STEM education in science, technology, engineering and math in public schools. “We’re targeting children from second grade to middle school,” says Piper. “It will be an out-of-school program that we hope will supplement what they’re going through in their schools.”

He’s developing community partnerships, first with St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Kalihi-Palama, to build facilities like a com-puter lab. “We hope to drop these programs into our communities and so far there’s been good reception. We’re also working to set up a recording studio. Your ‘ticket to ride’ is to come and do your homework with us. If you make it fun, it works out.

“He has incredible drive and ambition,” says Karl P. Espaldon, a law school classmate, friend, and now an employee. “Not so much for himself, but for the mission of the agency. He truly has a heart for the public we serve.”


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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