Government & Civics

Improving Our Political Climate

Change will happen when more citizens are involved, including leaders and ordinary people from our neighborhood, businesses, nonprofits and governments.

Hear from our speakers about:

  1. Charting a new fiscal course for Hawai‘i
  2. Engaging more people in civics and meaningful political conversations
  3. Building consensus and shared purpose in Hawaii despite our differences



Colbert Matsumoto, Chairman, Island Holdings

Colbert M. Matsumoto is the Chairman of Island Holdings, Inc., a corporate holding company whose operating subsidiaries include Island Insurance Company; Atlas Insurance Agency; Tradewind Capital Group; Pacxa IT Services; and The Islander Group. With over 500 employees, the Island Holdings family of companies generates over $200 million in annual revenues.

Active in business and civic affairs for more than 40 years, Matsumoto has served in leadership roles addressing challenges facing various for-profit and nomprofit organizations. From 1996 to 2000, Matsumoto served as the court-appointed master charged with reviewing the annual accounts of the Trustees of Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate. It was his review and recommendations to the Probate Court that led to historic reforms in the then $8 billion Estate’s governance structure and financial reporting practices. Matsumoto is credited with leading the ad hoc Committee to Save the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii from foreclosure in a desperate campaign in 2002. Within a matter of months, that effort raised over $9 million and cleared the Center’s debts. In 2009, at the urging of the late U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye, Matsumoto played a leadership role in founding the US-Japan Council which has since established itself as the leading national organization promoting people-to-people relations between the U.S. and Japan. As chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Employees Retirement System of the State of Hawaii, Masumoto led reform efforts in 2011 that helped stabilize the deteriorating funded status of the $16 billion public pension fund.

Born and raised in a plantation community on the island of Lanai, Matsumoto is a graduate of the University of San Francisco. He went on to earn a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley School of Law in 1978. Upon returning to Hawaii he then spent 6 months training as a Zen monk at a Rinzai Zen temple before initiating his legal career for the first 20 years of his professional life. He credits that period of training as having the most significant impact on the course of his life.


Jeffrey Laupola, Co-author and Project Lead, Report: Troubled Waters: Charting a New Fiscal Course for Hawaii

Jeff Laupola is a proud product of Hawaii and was born and raised on Oahu.  He started life in Kuhio Park Terrace, grew up on Red Hill, and graduated from Punahou School and the United States Naval Academy.  He served for 11 years in the U.S. Navy.  Since leaving active military service, he has worked at Goldman Sachs in New York City, Tradewind Capital Group in Honolulu, and is currently a candidate for a Master of Arts in Public Leadership from the University of San Francisco.  In the Fall of 2020, he will be pursuing a Master of Business Administration.  Hawaii is his home. 


Colin Moore, Director of the Public Policy Center, and Associate Professor of Political Science

Colin Moore is the Chair of the School of Communications, the Director of the Public Policy Center, and an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.  Prior to joining the faculty at UH, he served as a research fellow at Yale University’s Center for the Study of American Politics and as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University.


Jennifer Sabas, Director, Daniel K. Inouye Institute

As director of the Daniel K. Inouye Institute, Jennifer Sabas works to tell Senator Inouye’s story and share his legacy to inspire future generations. She has partnered with the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Institute of Peace on exciting public programs in D.C., and in Hawaii with Zocalo Public Square, Asia Pacific Center for Strategic Studies, and the Hawaii International Film Festival. 

Throughout her career, she has worked with federal, state and city governments (legislative and executive branches) as a supporter, advocate and partner. Sabas supports a variety of organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Council, CyberHawaii, the University of Hawai‘i, as well as consults for a host of local and national companies.  Her community service includes the Hawaii Community Foundation, Hawaii Leadership Forum, Pacific International Center for High Technology Research (PICHTR), to name a few.

Jen is married to John, and is the proud mother of three sons.


Michael Formby, Executive Director, Pacific Resource Partnership

Mike Formby is the Executive Director of Pacific Resource Partnership, a unique partnership of the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters and more than 240 of the state’s leading contractors.

A lawyer by profession, Formby has 10 years of senior federal, state and county government experience. He served most recently as interim Honolulu City Councilmember representing Council District 4 (Waikiki and East Honolulu).

Prior to his City Council appointment, Formby worked as Chief of Staff for U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in Washington, D.C. He is the former Director of the city Department of Transportation Services, where he led multi-modal transportation planning, traffic engineering and Oahu’s transit systems including TheBus and TheHandi-Van. He also oversaw complete streets policies, multi-modal solutions (pedestrian, bike, auto, shared-use), transit-oriented development, smart growth principles, and partnerships with communities and stakeholders.

Formby served as acting Director of the state Department of Transportation (comprised of highways, airports and harbors) and Deputy Director of the Harbors Division, where he directed the operations, maintenance and capital improvements of 10 commercial harbors on six islands with an annual special-funded budget of $90 – $110 million.

As a litigator, Formby developed a specialty in admiralty/maritime, commercial, administrative and contract law. He served for seven years as an officer in the U.S. Air Force after law school. After leaving the military, Formby worked for a number of Honolulu law firms as a senior trial attorney, including serving as president and managing partner of Frame Formby & O’Kane, LLC before entering government service. He also taught as an adjunct instructor at the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.


Moderator: Steve Petranik, Editor, Hawaii Business Magazine


Hosted drinks and pupus served immediately after panel discussion.

  • Honolulu Museum of Art School lot
    Limited hosted parking available across the street with valets on hand to maximize parking.
  • First Insurance Center
    Entrance and exit to parking structure on Beretania Street. Special flat rate of $5.00 with validation at registration table courtesy of The RMR Group.



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