Laurie Yoshida is first non-Filipino named Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce president

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Bennette Misalucha, mistress of ceremonies for the Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce Awards and Installation Gala, far right, presents honorees for various KFCC outstanding awards, including, from left, Janice Bond, Member of the Year; Juno Apalla Board Member of the Year; Emily Manuel, Entrepreneur of the Year; Bradford Kaeo, Volunteer of the Year; Angel Acorda and Tito Villanueva, Community Service; Randy Francisco representing Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. as Goodwill Ambassador; Ryan Oyama of Dupont Pioneer, Joshua Uyehara of Hartung Bros. and Laurie Yoshida representing Stephanie Iona of Dow Agrosciences; and Immediate Past President Bobby Ayonon, at Koloa Landing Resort Saturday night.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Cyndi Ayonon, the KFCC new assistant treasurer, right, gets a photo of Judge Randal Valenciano administering the oath of office to Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce board directors, including from left Angel Acorda, Bradford Kaeo, Emily Manuel, Chuck Lasker, Mike Martinez, Emma Ladendecker, Tito Villanueva, Cristeta Owan, Marites Yano, Marynel Valenzuela, Eddie Topenio and Addison Bulosan, at Koloa Landing Resort Saturday night.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Judge Randal Valenciano administers the oath of office to the Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce board leadership team, including, from left, Rose Ramos Benzal, assistant secretary; Cyndi Ayonon, assistant treasurer; Vonn Ramos, vice president; Evelyn Riley, secretary; Juno Apalla, treasurer; Bobby Ayonon, immediate past president; and Randy Francisco, KFCC executive director, Saturday at Koloa Landing Resort.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Laurie Yoshida is sworn in by Judge Randal Valenciano as the first non-Filipino president of the Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce Saturday night during the KFCC Awards and Installation Gala at Koloa Landing Resort.

POIPU — Laurie Yoshida was sworn in as the first non-Filipino president for the Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce Saturday evening during the KFCC Awards and Installation Gala held at the Koloa Landing resort.

“They had my picture on the front page of a newspaper,” Yoshida said. “All of these people were calling my mother, saying ‘Your daughter is on the cover, and she’s not Filipino!’”

Yoshida takes over the reins from Bobby Ayonon, who led the KFCC for the past two years during a re-organization and the acquiring of its 501 (c)(301) nonprofit status.

Ayonon said the chamber was brought to a new level, and pointed to its golf tournament that raised funds for scholarships.

“We contributed $50,000 to the Kauai Philippines Cultural Center, and I hope this function will be held there,” Ayonon said. “We also opened the chamber to younger ideas, and I’m glad to see this function taking place at the Koloa Landing resort.”

The gala, hosted by Bennette Misalucha for more than a hundred people, featured ample time for networking, browsing through vendors, and meeting the new board headed by Yoshida, vice president Vonn Ramos, secretary Evelyn Riley, assistant secretary Rose Ramos Benzel, treasurer Juno Apalla, and assistant treasurer Cyndi Ayonon.

Board directors include Angel Acorda, Kaeo Bradford, Addison Bulosan, Emma Ladendecker, Chuck Lasker, Emily Manuel, Mike Martinez, Cristeta Owan, Tito Villanueva, Maritess Yano, and past KFCC presidents Marynel Valenzuela, Eddie Topenio, Bobby Ayonon. KFCC Executive Director Randy Francisco stood in for Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. to accept a special award.

“These awards are presented to individuals and organizations who made significant contributions to the organization,” said Cyndi Ayonon. “Those efforts have made a significant impact in improving the quality of life on Kauai through their commitment with the KFCC and to the community.”

Carvalho was named the Ambassador of Goodwill for his work for the Filipino community, including setting up three sister city relationships with the Philippines, and securing a fourth sister city in the future when he travels to Davao City.

Janice Bond earned the Member of the Year honors; Apalla earned the Board Member of the Year; Manuel earned Entrepreneur accolades for creating innovative ways of having members interact during the KFCC quarterly meetings; and Acorda and Villanueva shared the Community Service Award for co-chairing the KFCC golf tournament.

Special Kokua awards were handed out to Dupont Pioneer, represented by Ryan Oyama; Hartung Bros., represented by Joshua Uyehara; and Dow Agrosciences, with Yoshida standing in for Stephanie Iona, for financial support over the years.

Jade Butay, the interim director for the state’s Department of Transportation, was the special speaker.

Yoshida said she’s committed to keeping the KFCC strong through training, and advocating for all businesses. Since this is an election year, she is looking toward working with the Kauai Chamber of Commerce on community outreach through political forums and efforts to encourage a stronger voter turnout, she said.

  1. Jose Bulatao, Jr. January 29, 2018 9:39 am Reply

    The multi-dimensional, culturally-diversified array of leadership in the Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce (highlighted by the election of Laurie Yoshida as its president) is noteworthy and forward-thinking! Certainly, there is clear indication that the essence of aloha is vibrantly alive, here on the island of Kauai!
    Here is clear evidence of ways in which collaborative endeavors in our respective communities bring people together to focus on shared concerns and seek ways in which common ground can be established in seeking positive outcomes and positive benefits to determine what can be accomplished.
    Fifty years ago, the Bailes de Jose Troupe was established along these very same concepts. In response to a call for the presentation of Filipino Folk Dances at a Dance Concert which already has representation to reflect aspects of the Hawaiian and Japanese groups, I was asked to “come up with something” for the Filipinos. So, deliberately, the search went out for students of all ethnic backgrounds who might be interested in participating, and fortunately, there were students of Filipino, Japanese, Hawaiian, Portuguese, Chinese, Portuguese, and Spanish diversions ready and willing to participate. “Dance is a universal experience,” I thought, and “it would be nice to see different people becoming exponents of what we have to offer,”
    Might it be possible for the Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce to consider the “wild possibility” of sponsoring the Bailes de Jose Troupe to present a concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC? Throughout the 50 years of our existence, the participants in the Troupe have never been charged a penny for learning the dances. They have, however, been asked to bring their commitment and dedication to the art form to acquire the skills and abilities to convey the appropriate moods and tempos of the dances being choreographed! Whenever contributions or donations have been offered, those funding resources have gone toward acquiring fabrics, costumes, props, instruments, and other needed items to stage each and every performance throughout the years.
    Might it be possible for the Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce (along with any other entities in the public and private sectors) to work hand-in-hand with the Bailes de Jose Troupe to actualize a concert performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC as a fitting tribute of their commitment and dedication to the art of dance? What do you think? Is this “impossible dream”……possible? Sincerely,
    Jose Bulatao, Jr., Kekaha

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