Governor’s Biography

Neil Abercrombie
Governor, State of Hawaii

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is the State of Hawaii’s seventh Governor (Hawaii had eleven governors prior to becoming a state). He was inaugurated into office on Dec. 6, 2010.

Neil Abercrombie grew up in Williamsville, New York, and attended Union College in New York State. He came to Hawaii in September 1959, the month after statehood, to be a teaching assistant at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he earned a Master’s degree in Sociology and later a Ph.D. in American Studies.

To support himself as a graduate student, Abercrombie worked as a waiter at Chuck’s Steak House in Waikiki, locker desk clerk at the Central YMCA, custodian at Mother Rice Preschool, construction apprentice program director, elementary school teacher, and a college lecturer.

Abercrombie served in the state House of Representatives from 1975 to 1979 and in the state Senate from 1979 to 1986. He helped elderly depositors regain their life savings when Manoa Finance collapsed. Abercrombie also helped start the award-winning Healthy Start prevention program for at-risk mothers and children.

In 1986, Abercrombie won a special election to Congress to fill the remaining term of Congressman Cec Heftel. He returned home to serve as Special Assistant to the Superintendent of Education and helped implement Hawaii’s distance-learning programs. He was later elected to the Honolulu City Council and served on the council from 1988 to 1990.

In 1990, Abercrombie was elected to return to Congress and represented Hawaii’s first Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives until 2010. While in Congress, he served as chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces and a senior member on the Natural Resources Committee. He co-authored landmark legislation creating public-private partnerships between the military and private developers to build, maintain and manage housing for today’s military families.

After being elected Governor of Hawaii, Gov. Abercrombie was appointed by President Barack Obama to the Council of Governors and was reappointed for a second two-year term in 2014. The council consists of 10 governors appointed by the President to focus on matters of national security, homeland defense, synchronization and integration of state and federal military activities in the United States and matters of mutual interest pertaining to the National Guard.

In November 2013, Gov. Abercrombie was named to President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, a select group of governors, mayors and other leaders who will develop recommendations on how the federal government can better support local preparedness and resilience-building efforts.

Gov. Abercrombie is married to Dr. Nancie Caraway, an award-winning author and authority on international human trafficking. He and Dr. Caraway are the proud walkers of Hawaii’s First Dog, their Shetland sheepdog, Kanoa.