OHA appoints 4 new directors

HONOLULU — The state Office of Hawaiian Affairs has named new directors to lead its Resource Management, Advocacy, Research and Community Relations operations as part of the implementation of its new strategic plan following an extensive internal and external search process, a news release says.

OHA has named Richard Pezzulo as Resource Management Director and Chief Financial Officer; Esther Kia‘aina to the position of Chief Advocate; Dr. Kamana‘opono Crabbe as Research Director; and Denise Iseri-Matsubara as Community Relations Director.

Pezzulo has been the OHA Chief Financial Officer since October 2008, while Kia‘aina joins OHA from Kamehameha Schools; Dr. Crabbe from Wai‘anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center; and Iseri-Matsubara from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

“We are very pleased to welcome our new directors,” said OHA Administrator Clyde W. Namu‘o. “We are fortunate to have such highly skilled leaders in their respective fields join our organization to help us secure a better future for Hawaiians.”

OHA announced earlier this year that it was launching a new strategic plan to better serve Hawaiians, while transforming OHA into a more streamlined, performance-based organization. Under the plan, OHA is shifting its focus from serving individual needs to applying resources to programs and activities that will lead to systemic change, maximizing their impact for all Hawaiians.

The strategic plan identifies three critical roles for OHA: advocacy, research, and asset management. In addition, OHA will institute strict performance-based criteria that will evaluate the impact of its work for Native Hawaiians based on measurable results. As an initial step in that plan, OHA named Stanton K. Enomoto as Chief Operating Officer in September.

“These four individuals fill key positions in OHA as we seek to become a more focused, streamlined and performance-based organization,” Enomoto said. “Resource management, advocacy, research and community relations are critical areas for us as we move forward with our strategic plan.”

New OHA directors

Richard Pezzulo has served as OHA Chief Financial Officer responsible for accounting, treasury, budgetary and information systems since October of 2008. Prior to that, he was Executive Director of Empower O‘ahu, a non-profit organization comprising 10 economically-distressed communities on O‘ahu. Pezzulo previously served at OHA as Director of Planning, Research, Evaluation and Grants and as Evaluation Manager. His extensive experience also includes work with the United Nations, the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the International Labor Organization and the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and his Master of Business Administration from Southern Cross University in Australia.

OHA’s new Chief Advocate, Esther Kia‘aina, has served as Land Asset Manager for Kamehameha Schools since 2007. Prior to that, she had a long career in Washington, D.C., where she worked as Legislative Assistant to Sen. Daniel Akaka, Legislative Director and Chief of Staff to Rep. Robert Underwood of Guam, and most recently as Chief of Staff to Rep. Ed Case. Kia‘aina was instrumental in drafting and securing the passage of the Hawaiian Apology Resolution of 1993. She is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and received her Juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School.

Dr. Kamana‘opono Crabbe, who was named OHA Research Director, joins OHA from the Wai‘anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center, where he served as a licensed psychologist and Director of Training. He has long-served the Native Hawaiian community and the residents of Hawai‘i in the area of clinical psychology, family therapy, and Native Hawaiian health research. Kamana‘opono is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa .

Denise Iseri-Matsubara, who was named OHA Community Relations Director, previously served as Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. Prior to that, she worked for Hawaiian Electric Company as Director of Government Relations. Iseri-Matsubara also served as a long-time manager at inter-island cargo company Young Brothers Ltd. She is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.

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