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20 for the Next 20: People to Watch 2014

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Each year, Hawaii Business selects 20 emerging leaders who have already made big contributions to Hawaii and we expect to have an even greater impact over the next two decades.

Welcome to the Class of 2014.


Kamana Beamer not only teaches sustainability, he and his family practice it at their home in Waimea on Hawaii Island. They grow much of their own food and the hen he’s holding – one of nine – not only provides eggs but “is a great weeder and pest controller,” Beamer says with a smile.

Photo: Courtesy of Kamana Beamer

Kamana Beamer

Assistant Professor of Hawaiian Studies,
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Age: 37

Kamana Beamer says there were two defining moments in his life. The first was his parents’ divorce when he was 6 months old.

The son of singer-songwriter Kapono Beamer, famous for “Honolulu City Lights,” is also the grandson of Hawaiian educator Nona Beamer. He says his parents’ breakup fostered his close relationship with his late grandmother.

“She would drag me around to workshops, presentations and hula. We developed an incredible bond,” says Beamer, who grew up in Kauai’s Wailua Homesteads with his mother, but spent a lot of time with his grandmother on Oahu.

Beamer attended Kamehameha Schools and admits he wasn’t the best student.

“If you talk to people who knew me, they’ll say, ‘Dr. Beamer? Who the hell is that?’ ” he laughs. But he developed competitiveness through sports, playing soccer, basketball, track and especially football. After a football scholarship briefly took him to Bethel College in Newton, Kan., Beamer headed to Occidental College in Los Angeles to be closer to the ocean. That’s when his life’s second defining moment occurred.

“I was almost done with my philosophy degree, but needed two years of a foreign language. I wanted to return to Hawaii to study Hawaiian at UH,” explains Beamer. “But (Occidental) didn’t consider Hawaiian a language since only one university taught it. I felt they didn’t value my native language so I left, came back to Hawaii to finish my degree and got a second bachelor’s degree in Hawaiian Studies, as well.”

A master’s degree and Ph.D. in cultural geography followed, as did a job working in resource management with the Kamehameha Schools Land Assets Division.

He returned to UH-Manoa as an assistant professor at the Center for Hawaiian Studies and Richardson School of Law, commuting from his home in Waimea on Hawaii Island.

“He has a depth of moolelo (‘talk story’ or shared experience) from which he draws and that touches the lives of young people,” says Maenette Benham, dean of the Hawaiinuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge at UH-Manoa.

Beamer says his work straddles the fields of resource management and education. He also says his focus has become stronger since becoming the father of two children.

“In times past I may have said, ‘I not going say anything,’ but now I realize, if I don’t speak up or bring knowledge and experience to the table, it may never get there and may adversely affect the next generation.”


Lori Teranishi

Co-founder and principal,
Age: 44

"Work hard, no scared.”

That’s the advice Lori Teranishi’s grandfather gave her as a child. “He would say, ‘Work hard and treat others well. If you do, you don’t have to worry,” recalls Teranishi.

She took this advice to heart by setting aside her fears and leaving a lucrative and prestigious career in San Francisco as Visa’s VP of product development, to move home and launch her own public relations company in 2011.

“I had my daughter, Kai, in 2005, and I realized I wanted to move back to Hawaii. I thought the surest way to control my destiny was to start a business. It was really a risk, but once you decide, you work hard to just do it.”

With offices in Hawaii, San Francisco and New York, iQ360 (formerly IQ PR) is steadily building a prominent client base.

Hawaiian Telcom CEO Eric Yeaman met Teranishi in 2011, soon after she returned home after 24 years on the mainland, and contracted with her to assist his company.

“Lori is a believer in fresh thinking, which is evidenced by the way she approaches her work with us,” says Yeaman. “There’s always a desire to explore an idea further, to consider things from a new perspective and to not settle for doing things the same old way.”

Teranishi says it was never her goal to be the biggest public relations firm in Hawaii, but to pursue excellence in her field.

“My industry is changing so rapidly and I’d like to be part of the movement to change it in a way that will benefit business in our communities,” she says.

She says she has no regrets about coming home, for her 9-year-old daughter, Kai, and for herself. “When you go away and return, it becomes so clear that it’s a huge benefit growing up in this environment. You know you’ve raised a child with a good heart,” says Teranishi.

“And from a professional standpoint, Hawaii is growing in prominence. Geographical barriers to conducting business are shrinking due to technology and I think we’re poised for the future.”


Mark Noguchi

Mark Noguchi stands in the new cafeteria that his company operates for Hawaiian Airlines.

Photo: David Croxford

Pili Group
Age: 37

Iʻm not a cutting edge chef. I’m not someone who redefines the scope of food that we eat,” says Mark Noguchi. “But I get to meet people through food. Food is the vessel that transcends us and brings us together. That’s why I cook.”

But Noguchi, or “Gooch,” as family and friends call him, had a bumpy ride on his way to being a chef. Kicked out of Punahou School three months before his freshman year for stealing the Mercedes emblem from Punahou president Rod McPhee’s car, Noguchi bounced from Assets to Roosevelt, Kalani and Kaimuki before earning his GED in 1992.

He moved to Hilo with a girlfriend, who broke up with him a week later, and lived out of his van for eight months.

“But that all changed my life for the better. I went back to school and joined Halau O Kekuhi,” he explains.

He dedicated himself to hula for six years and traveled the world sharing the dance. But he says only family members could advance in this halau, so after soul-searching and a friend’s suggestion, he enrolled in Kapiolani Community College’s culinary arts program. He moved to New York to study at the Culinary Institute of America, landed an internship at The Greenbrier in West Virginia, then came home to work at, in turn, the Kona Village Resort, Chef Mavro and Town.

In 2011, he and partners opened Heeia Pier General Store & Deli, but Noguchi left in 2012 to launch Pili Group with public relations executive Amanda Corby. He and Corby tied the knot last October and welcomed a baby girl in January.

In February 2013, Hawaiian Airlines selected Pili Group to provide food service at its corporate offices. Consistent with Noguchi’s food philosophy, LunchBox by Pili serves meals made from fresh, local products and ingredients.

As a self-described “person of extremes,” Noguchi no longer dances hula, as he prefers to focus on one thing at a time. But hula influences his cooking.

“I cook from a hula perspective. When you hula and you have to gather laau (products from the Earth) to make lei, you become hyper-aware of your surroundings. When you have to make a kukui lei and you’re driving down the road, you notice every single kukui nut tree. You learn to appreciate everything and only use what’s necessary.”

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