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20 for the Next 20: People to Watch 2014

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Sharon Ann Thom

Senior VP and Hawaii area manager,
Kiewit Building Group
Age: 45

Sharron Ann Thom was promoted to senior VP at Kiewit Building Group in 2013, just three years after joining the company. One key to her quick rise is her focus on human relations, says one of the employees she supervises.

Alika Fujimoto, Kiewit project executive, says he admires Thom’s commitment to every employee and the company as a whole.

“She has a passion for the industry and creating a team environment to help individuals grow and succeed,” Fujimoto says. She helps everyone feel they are contributing to the organization’s success and future, he adds.

Thom, who was born and raised in Hawaii, says she fell into her career path and fell in love.

“It was the perfect fit for my personality. To be able to stand and look at a building after the project is complete gives me great satisfaction,” she says.

As Thom sees it, “no” is not an acceptable answer. “There is always a way to get work done,” she says. “In addition, the one rule I live by in both my professional and personal life is kinaole – do the right thing, with the right people, at the right time.”

Given her hectic work life, most of her free time is dedicated to her family – her husband and son – but she also believes it is important to give back to the community. She sits on the board for the March of Dimes, the Waikiki Improvement Association and the General Contractors Association. She is also active with the Waikiki Community Center’s Facilities Committee.

Thom credits her father with teaching her the value of staying true to herself, never to compromise her personal ethics and integrity. From her mother, she learned humility.

“I am not the best, but I should always strive to be the best I can be,” she explains. From both parents, she learned the value of respect.

She is inspired by her popos (grandmothers). “On my mother’s side, my Popo Ching worked full time at Pearl Harbor and raised nine children; she often would leave and return home in the dark.”

On her father’s side, Popo Thom came to the United States with six children and a sick husband, who soon died. She learned English and supported her children.

“Remembering the adversity that these two amazing ladies successfully overcame inspires me to take on the opportunities that life brings my way.”


George Greene

Photo: David Croxford

President and CEO,
Healthcare Association of Hawaii
Age: 43

When George Green took over in 2009 at the Healthcare Association of Hawaii – an organization that includes all Hawaii hospitals and nursing facilities – one area he looked into was federal reimbursements to the state for Medicare and Medicaid patients.

“In 2009, we were in the bottom quartile for (federal) reimbursements in the country,” says Greene.

With his leadership, the Legislature passed a law that helped the state earn an extra $31 million in 2012 and again in 2013.  “People had been so focused on patient care and the traditional practice of medicine, they hadn’t thought to look at these kinds of opportunities,” he says.

The federal government is now footing 83 percent of the cost of healthcare for Hawaii’s Medicaid patients, compared to 70 percent before, says Greene, who has spent most of his career dealing with government regulations.

After law school at the University of Tennessee, Greene worked for congressman Bob Inglis from his hometown of Greenville, S.C., and then with the National Association of Home Builders, San Diego Mayor Susan Golding (helping raise $451 million to build Major League Baseball’s Padres a new stadium), San Diego’s Sharp HealthCare system and, finally, as Region 9 executive director for the American Hospital Association.

His interest in healthcare began when he was 18 and accompanied his mother to the hospital where his grandfather had just died. The two were sent to a room where his grandfather’s body lay on a table, unshaven and clad only in a hospital gown. His mother broke down when she saw her father like that.

“I knew this was wrong,” he says. “Why would you take my mother in here without giving her some preparation to see her father? I just knew that was not the way healthcare should be.”

Dr. Rachael Wong, the Healthcare Association of Hawaii’s VP and COO, says Greene has made a huge difference in many areas of Hawaii healthcare.

“In a difficult financial climate and with unprecedented change for healthcare organizations, George has taken incredible strides to make a difference for those providing care in Hawaii,” she says. “His leadership was instrumental to the passage of legislation to streamline access to long-term support and services for older adults, appropriate funds for emergency services, eliminate conflicts between state and federal health information laws, facilitate hospital accreditation, encourage sharing of best practices among facilities, and protect healthcare workers.”

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