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20 for the Next 20: People to Watch 2014

(page 4 of 8)

Teri Orton

Photo: Mark Arbeit

General Manager,
Hawaii Convention Center
Age: 45

The first thing Teri Orton asked when taking the reins as general manager of the Hawaii Convention Center last December was, “Is there a shower here?”

It’s not a question most would ask, but when Orton is training for an Ironman triathlon, she has to fit 2-mile swims, 20-mile runs and 50-mile bike rides into her day. The determination and discipline she brings to triathlons is also evident in her work life.

“If I set a goal, I work as hard as I can to achieve it,” says the 1986 Kahuku High graduate and Windward Community College alumna, who has 17 years of industry experience and a lot of respect from her peers. She has held leadership roles with the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani, W Diamond Head, The Ilikai, Embassy Suites and, most recently, Outrigger Enterprises Group, where she served as vice president of condominium resort marketing.

When the Hawaii Tourism Authority selected Los Angeles-based AEG Facilities to replace SMG Hawaii to run the 1.1 million-square-foot convention center in August, she was recruited to take the lead.

“This opportunity just found me. I was really happy at Outrigger, but David (Uchiyama) suggested I meet with AEG to learn more about them,” explains Orton. “After finding out about the resources AEG brings to the table, I got very excited about the job.”

AEG owns or is involved with more than 100 of the world’s prominent sports and entertainment facilities, including the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Orton says her main focus at HCC will be getting business on the books and putting together an exceptional sales team. At the moment she oversees approximately 85 employees.

“My management style is to treat people with respect and have integrity in everything I do. I don’t compromise that,” she says. “Being kind to people goes a lot farther than just barking orders.”

Uchiyama, HTA’s VP of brand management, praises Orton’s leadership style.

“She leads by example and is approachable, which draws respect and esteem from her colleagues,” he says. “But while many often make the mistake of underestimating Teri because of her laid back and good nature, those who work with her know that she is a force to be reckoned with.”


Carmille Lim

Photo: David Croxford

Executive director,
Common Cause Hawaii
Age: 27

Before she became an advocate for honest, open government, Carmille Lim had to become honest with herself. Dentistry was a compromise between Lim and her family, which preferred the job security of nursing. She had completed three years of pre-dental training and worked as a dental assistant.

“One day, as I was washing my hands, I finally accepted that I was not fulfilled, that I wanted to do something with a wider impact,” she says. “Not long after that moment of clarity, I quit my job, changed my major, and immersed myself in more and new community-service experiences.”

Lim was born in the Philippines and grew up with her sister and father, who was in the U.S. Navy. She lived in Japan and on the continental U.S. before moving to Hawaii in 2002. Among her influences was her first-grade teacher, who introduced her to human rights and social justice. In middle school, Lim says she “ran with the wrong crowd” and her social studies and band teachers intervened.

“They encouraged me to use my energy toward something good and meaningful for the community, and reminded me how my relatives, who were still in the Philippines, would have made every opportunity count. That stuck with me,” she says.

Today, she focuses on making a substantial contribution rather than being “successful,” Lim says. “I am dedicated to my causes, not my career.” One cause is same-day voter registration and widespread vote-by-mail, so more people can cast ballots.

Leslie Wilkins, VP at the Maui Economic Development Board and director of the Women in Technology Project, serves on the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women with Lim.

Wilkins says Lim has many qualities of a good leader. “She has the ability to listen, she is a very good speaker, she is very diplomatic, and yet she is focused and unwavering about equity and social justice.”

Although Lim manages a nonprofit, she treats it as a business. “We cannot spend endless hours on a project, and we cannot put our bottom line on the backburner,” she explains.

When asked what inspires her, Lim says, “While I moved around growing up, I spent my summers in the Philippines, so I have seen how my life could have been. While I did not grow up privileged, I feel so fortunate to be an American citizen now. What motivates me is gratitude, and my sense of obligation to ‘give back.’ ”


Joy Barua

Photo: David Croxford

Community Benefit and Health Policy,
Kaiser Permanente Hawaii
Age: 37

Joy Barua learned to stand up for others when he was 9. Today, that’s his job, supporting Kaiser’s mission of promoting community health.

Born in Bangladesh as the eldest of two sons, Barua excelled at a competitive exam and was sent to India to start third grade at an elite English-language boarding school. “If you’ve seen the Harry Potter movies you understand” what it was like – minus the magic. “It was tough,” but the strict rules were designed to teach responsibility and encourage students to support each other. Those lessons stuck.

After completing high school in Japan, he applied to Hawaii Pacific University and was accepted by the business school. In his first year at HPU, he began an internship in Kalihi at what is now called the Pacific Gateway Center, to help immigrants obtain social services.

“A lot of immigrants don’t know how to get a state ID or housing services. Some need to learn to speak English or need cultural lessons – how to navigate their way in a new country,” Barua says.

The internship led to a job as a project manager and, at age 19, he planned and helped launch Hawaii’s first community-development financial institution. It became the federal Small Business Administration’s most popular micro-lending program in Hawaii, supporting more than 100 businesses a year. Barua won SBA Hawaii’s Minority Small Business Champion Award in 2010.

“When you help a business navigate through the early challenges of inception, your investment pays many dividends – job creation, growth, tax-revenue generation and much more,” he says.

Jayson Harper, general manager of Honolulu Civil Beat and Huffington Post Hawaii, says Barua is a friend who “shares willingly what he knows and is able to effortlessly share complex ideas in ways that make sense and are relevant.”

One of his colleagues at the Honolulu Community Action Program, Lynn K. Cabato, praises Barua’s penchant for giving credit to others. “With his wealth of knowledge and unflinching courage,” she says, he takes on challenges and turns them into positive achievements.

One example: Barua learned that local farmer’s markets did not accept the EBT cards that low-income people use for their food stamps and other benefits.

So he lobbied for enabling legislation and today a growing number of farmers markets have terminals that accept food cards.


Zachary McNish

Photo: David Croxford

Legal counsel,
Age: 36

Zachary McNish’s appreciation for the environment began in the Upcountry Maui eucalyptus groves and gulches where he played as a child. The appreciation deepened when he followed his father’s lead in becoming a Peace Corps volunteer.

“My dad always had these great stories about serving in Peru,” says McNish, who became a Peace Corp volunteer in Panama in 1999, after earning a B.A. in U.S. History from Williams College in Massachusetts.

His work with Panamanian farmers led him to start a small nonprofit to help indigenous communities gain legal title to their traditional lands. The group also helped one of its leaders become the first of his people to obtain a law degree.

Following the Peace Corps, McNish earned his own law degree from Duke University.

“After I graduated from law school, I knew I’d eventually return to Hawaii but thought I’d stay on the mainland and work for a while,” recalls McNish. “But, in my second year of law school during an interview for a summer job at a Washington, D.C., firm, the interviewer asked, ‘Why do you see yourself in D.C. in five years?’ And I had one of those very rare ‘ah-ha’ moments. I thought, ‘I don’t!’ I realized that it was time to go back to Hawaii. I cancelled the rest of my interviews, finished my last year of law school and returned to Hawaii.”

McNish worked for Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing, where he focused on employment law and government relations, representing clean energy companies and organizations, but left in October 2012 for a locally owned solar company, RevoluSun.

“Zach brings a very high level of skill, diligence and insight into his work and he has fantastic judgment when it comes to making decisions and evaluating issues,” says Mark Duda, RevoluSun principal.

McNish says he brings two lessons from the Peace Corps to his job and everyday life. The first is that a single person can make a difference.

“The other lesson is that you don’t need to have an intellectual conversation with someone to make a personal connection,” he explains. “By sharing who you are and learning about who they are and just talking about things like the weather, crops and mud, you can make a meaningful connection.”

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