Gini Kapali accepts position with TSA

Virginia “Gini” Kapali wasn’t able to attend Monday’s inauguration of Mayor Bryan Baptiste, even though she wanted to go.

She was working at her new job, as community support and quality improvement manager for the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Lihu’e Airport.

The new job of the former director of the county Office of Economic Development is to support the TSA in the community, and perform public education to let travelers know what kinds of things they can and can’t bring to the airport when they fly, she said.

Her new job started just a few days after she formally ended last week a 27-year career with county government that spanned four mayors: Eduardo E. Malapit, the late Tony T. Kunimura, current County Councilmember JoAnn A. Yukimura, and Maryanne W. Kusaka.

She has left to Gary Heu, administrative assistant to new Mayor Bryan Baptiste, a list of recommendations she hopes Heu will work on now that she’s gone. Heu is effectively in charge of the OED for the time being, Kapali said.

At the top of the list of recommendations is continuance of compilation and publication of county economic data, which the OED has done through a contract with the University of Hawaii. “There’s room for growth in data-collection,” she said.

There are lots of other suggestions she hopes the new administration will consider, she added.

Reflecting on her time as OED director, she said, “I learned lots along the way, and got comfortable with the job.”

She joined the Office of Elderly Affairs as an outreach worker during the Malapit administration, and spent most of her time with the county in that office.

When Kusaka combined the Office of Elderly Affairs, County Housing Agency and County Transportation Agency into the Offices of Community Assistance shortly after being re-elected in 1998, Kapali’s former position as director of the County Transportation Agency was eliminated.

Much to Kapali’s shock, Kusaka asked her to become director of the Office of Economic Development.

“It came as a complete surprise,” said Kapali. Janine Rapozo became the new executive in the County Transportation Agency.

“I’ll go for it,” said Kapali, shortly after being chosen by Kusaka. “However I can help the mayor.”

When Kusaka came to Kapali with the job offer, the Mayor told her she possessed excellent communication skills, and being out and involved in the community is her forte, Kapali said.

“When she approaches people, she has already thought things out very well,” Kapali said of her former boss. “She just does things for the right reasons.”

At the time of the appointment, Kapali said, “I’m really proud to receive this appointment, (to) carry on the legacy of Gerald Dela Cruz,” she said of the late OED director she replaced.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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