Department Directors and Deputies
Otaguro has been appointed to serve as the state comptroller, a position that concurrently serves as head of the Department of Accounting and General Services. Otaguro was most recently the executive vice president and division manager of the digital banking division, First Hawaiian Bank, where he spent most of his career in various positions of increasing responsibility. He has experience in personal and e-banking, retail and electronic banking, management and customer service. Otaguro earned a Bachelor of Science in management from the University of Redlands.
Hidano is re-appointed to serve as deputy comptroller at the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS), a position she has held since April 2015. Prior to joining DAGS, Hidano served as deputy director at the Department of Transportation and the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Hidano is co-founder of Hidano Construction, Inc., where she served as secretary and treasurer. She was also co-owner of Rim-Pac, Inc. and a public affairs analyst at Hawaiian Telcom (formerly Verizon and GTE Hawaiian Tel).
Shimabukuro-Geiser is a long-time agriculture advocate who was previously employed at Mikilua Poultry Farm, Inc. in Waianae, having served as vice president and administrative and fiscal assistant. She was also vice president at Associated Producers Corp. in Honolulu.
Vacant, Deputy to the Chair
Connors began her legal career in Hawaiʻi as a law clerk for federal District Judge David Ezra and was an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Hawaiʻi from 2004 to March 2011. Prior to that she was part of the Attorney General’s Honors program with the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C., and worked as a trial attorney for the DOJ Tax Division. Connors holds two B.A. degrees from Yale College, one in ethics, politics and economics and the other in international studies. She earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Dana Viola, First Deputy
Neal Miyahira, Director
Miyahira was the administrator of the Budget, Program Planning and Management Division at Budget and Finance. He has also served as director of finance and deputy director of finance during his 20 years at the department. Previously, Miyahira worked at the Department of Taxation as deputy director of taxation, as well as chief of research at the Office of the Lieutenant Governor (1986-1994), and in various capacities in the Hawai‘i State Senate and State of Hawai‘i. A Waipahu High School graduate, Miyahira earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
Yu is appointed to serve as deputy director of the Department of Budget and Finance.
He is a certified public accountant who has spent the bulk of his career at O‘ahu Transit Services, Inc, as senior vice president and deputy manager, senior vice president of Finance and Administration and chief internal auditor. Yu also worked at Hawaiian Electrical Industries and was chief financial officer at Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation where he has worked since 2017. Yu has also served in community leadership roles with the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and the See Yup Society Hawai‘i.
McCartney is the past president and chief executive officer of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, the state’s tourism agency. Prior to serving in this role, he was the executive director of the Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association. He also served as the director of the Department of Human Resources Management and was president and CEO of PBS Hawaiʻi. He served in the Hawaiʻi State Senate for 10 years.
Randall Tanaka, Deputy Director
Colón will continue as the director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, a position she’s held since January 2015. Prior to this she was the cable administrator in the DCCA’s Cable Television Division and served as the department’s executive director for its Division of Consumer Advocacy from 2006 to 2009. She previously served as chief legal counsel and commission counsel for the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. Awakuni Colón holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and a J.D. from the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaiʻi.
Takeuchi has been the deputy at DCCA since April 2012. Prior to this she served in various staff and leadership capacities at DCCA including as the complaints and enforcement officer with DCCA’s Regulated Industries Complaints Office, as the executive director of DCCA’s Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) and senior attorney to the OCP. Uchida Takeuchi earned B.A.s in English and political science at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and a J.D. from the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaiʻi.
Logan reappointed as adjutant general, Hawai‘i National Guard, Department of Defense. He has held this position since January 2015, overseeing the training and readiness of more than 5,000 soldiers and airmen of the Hawai‘i National Guard. Logan also serves as director of the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency and is the Homeland Security Advisor to Gov. Ige. Logan has more than 36 years of service in the military, having served as commander, Regional Police Advisory Command, Operation Enduring Freedom in Kabul, Afghanistan. Other positions include chief of staff, Hawai‘i Army National Guard and commander, 1st Battalion, 487th Field Artillery.
Hara reappointed as deputy adjutant general, Hawai‘i National Guard, Department of Defense. Hara has served in this position since January 2015. Previously, Hara’s assignments have included: Chief of the Joint Staff, Joint Force Headquarters, Hawai‘i National Guard; commander, 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Forward 34 in Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan; deputy commander, 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait; commander, 2nd Battalion, 299th Infantry, Baghdad, Iraq. Hara has been recognized with various awards and decorations, including the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star.
Ailā will also be continuing in his role as the deputy director to the chairman at the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, a position he’s held since 2014. He is the former chairman of the Department of Land and Natural Resources and served as the Harbor Agent for the Wai‘anae Boat Harbor from 1987-2010. In addition, Mr. Ailā has participated on several boards and task forces centered around native Hawaiian rights and natural resource management including the Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council, Mohala I Ka Wai, Hui Malama ‘O Makua and others. Ailā holds a B.S. degree from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
Vacant, Deputy to the Chair
Anderson has served as the DOH director since June 2018. He previously served as director of the department from 1999 to 2002 and as deputy director of environmental health from 1987 to 1998 and, prior to that, as the state epidemiologist. He also served as president and chief executive officer of the Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation. Anderson graduated from Colorado College and received a master’s degree in public health from Yale University and a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from the University of Hawai‘i.
Ross, who was deputy director for administration in the Department of Public Safety during Gov. Ige’s first term, has been appointed first deputy at the Department of Health where she previously held several positions before moving to Public Safety in 2012. Cathy earned three degrees at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa – a B.A. in psychology, M.P.H. in public health, and an M.B.A. from the Shidler College of Business Executive MBA program.
Kawaoka is re-appointed to serve as deputy director of environmental health at the Department of Health. Dr. Kawaoka has served in this position since 2015. Most recently, he was the Program Manager of the department’s Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office for more than 15 years. Kawaoka brings over 35 years of experience in environmental protection from the public and private sector. Kawaoka holds a master’s degree in public and environmental health and a doctorate in environmental science and engineering both from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Wada has served as the director of DHRD since Dec. 2017, prior to that he was the department’s deputy director. He has also served as the Certificated Personnel Regional Officer for the Windward District of the Department of Education (DOE) where he was responsible for human resources and labor relations. Before joining DOE he served as the Managing Attorney for the Honolulu Office of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii. Wada earned a B.A. from the University of Washington and a J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law.
Garrett has served as associate vice president of post-acute care and operations at the Healthcare Association of Hawai‘i since 2015. Previously, he was acting president/CEO at the Hawai‘i Institute for Public Affairs, where he also served as a project director. Garrett was also vice president of community building at Communications Pacific. A graduate of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Garrett has a Master of Public Administration (MPA). He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Hawai‘i Pacific Gerontological Society, Malama Mānoa, and the Mānoa Girls Athletic Club – where he’s also head coach for softball and volleyball. Garrett also chairs the Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i’s Public Health Fund Committee.
Bhanot has served as the director of the Department of Human Services since August 2016. He is an attorney by training who has dedicated his professional life to human rights and human services. He has held a variety of positions within DHS including deputy director, division administrator, employment and child care program administrator, and food stamp employment and training program specialist. Bhanot earned a B.A. in political science from Hindu College, University of Delhi, a J.D. from the Law Centre-I, University of Delhi, and an LL.M. in international human rights law from Cornell Law School.
Betts has been the deputy at DHS since September 2017. Prior to this she was the executive director of the Hawai‘i State Commission on the Status of Women. Betts previously practiced law in both the private and government sectors. Betts earned a B.A. in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles and a J.D. from the University of Hawai‘i William S. Richardson School of Law.
Murakami has been appointed to lead the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Murakami joins the Ige administration from the University of Hawaiʻi where he has held a variety of leadership positions. Most recently, he has been the director of Workforce Development in the Office of the Vice President for Community Colleges. He serves on the State of Hawaiʻi Rehabilitation Council, the board of directors of the Economic Development Alliance of Hawaiʻi, and the Workforce Development Council. Murakami holds a B.A. in political science and sociology, and an M.B.A. and M.Acc. from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
Hoshijo is appointed to serve as deputy director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR). He has worked at DLIR since 2015 as deputy director and director. Previously, Hoshijo worked as the education and political director for the Hawai‘i Regional Council of Carpenters. He was also housing representative, organizer, international representative and international vice president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). Hoshijo’s community work includes serving on the Labor Education Advisory Board, University of Hawai‘i Center for Labor Education and Research, director/officer for the Hawai‘i Labor Heritage Council, Director/officer of affordable rental housing nonprofit corporations and previously, Blood Bank of Hawai‘i trustee.
Case reappointed as Chair of the State of Hawai‘i’s Department of Land and Natural Resources in April 2015. In this role she has focused on good government, inclusion, and implementation of Gov. Ige’s Sustainable Hawaiʻi Initiative. Prior to this, she served as the Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Hawai‘i Program. She also served as Western and Asia/Pacific regional counsel for The Nature Conservancy. In addition, she practiced real estate transactions law at the law firm of Pettit & Martin in San Francisco. Case attended Williams College and Stanford University, where she graduated with a B.A. in History. She received her law degree from Hastings College of the Law, University of California, San Francisco.
Masuda reappointed to be the first deputy director at DLNR. Masuda has held the position since August 2017, and he previously served in this position from May 2005 to May 2007. Prior to that Masuda served as senior advisor for special programs development at the USDA’s U.S. Forest Service’ Institute for Pacific Islands Forestry. Masuda holds a B.S. in applied behavioral science and group work education from George Williams College and an Executive M.B.A. from the University of Hawai‘i.
Manuel currently serves as the Deputy Director for the Commission on Water Resource Management that administers the State Water Code created in 1987. Kaleo manages a team of hydrologists, geologists, engineers, planners, and support staff to protect and manage water for present and future generations. He completed traditional ‘ūniki rites as a Ho‘opa‘a in 2017 with Kumu Hula Victoria Holt-Takamine of Hālau Pua Ali‘i ‘Ilima. He also holds a B.A. in Hawaiian Studies, a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning, and a Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation, all from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
Espinda will continue in his role as director, Department of Public Safety, a position he’s held for the past four years. Prior to his appointment as director, he spent 32 years in corrections, serving as Warden at the Waiawa Correctional Facility, the Halawa Correctional Facility and the Oʻahu Community Correctional Center. Espinda is a proud 1975 graduate of lolani School and holds a B. A. in political science from California State University at Chico.
Rona Suzuki, Interim Director
Suzuki has served as a senior executive assistant at DOTAX, managing the $60 million Tax System Modernization (TSM) program which aims to replace most of the department’s technologies to improve operational efficiency and security. Previously, Suzuki was executive director of the Office of Community Services at the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. She was responsible for administering $30 million in grant programs for low-income individuals and families, immigrants, and refugees, to achieve economic self-sufficiency, as well as other social service nonprofits. In addition, Suzuki worked for more than a decade with private technology companies, managing technical projects, staff, contracts and budgets for Hawai‘i Resource Group, Pacxa, Century Computers, Ho‘ike Technology, and Computer Training Academy (CTA). Suzuki holds a B.A. in economics and government from Claremont McKenna College in California and a master’s in business administration from the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa.
Elefante has served as deputy since August 2016. Prior to that he was the compliance coordinator at the department of taxation, and he also served as deputy attorney general for the tax division. In addition, he has experience as an attorney in the private sector. Elefante earned a B.A. from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in political science and a J.D. from the Syracuse University College of Law.
Jade Butay, Director
Butay will continue to oversee the state’s 15 commercial and general aviation airports, 10 commercial harbors, and nearly 2,500 lane miles of state highways, tunnels, and bridges. He began his tenure with the DOT as the first deputy director in 2011 until being appointed as deputy director of the department of labor and industrial relations in November 2013. He returned to his position as first deputy at transportation in January 2015 and was appointed director in October 2017.
Araki-Regan was previously employed with the County of Maui, serving as the economic development coordinator, budget director and the mayor’s chief of staff. Araki-Regan is also an attorney, with 22 years of experience in commercial transactions and civil litigation. She has a law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai‘i, a B.S. in accounting from Santa Clara University.
Higashi is being re-appointed to serve as the Airports Division deputy director, overseeing 15 state airports across the state. Higashi is overseeing billions of dollars in modernization and facility improvement projects. He has served as HDOT interim director, interim deputy director and fiscal management officer for the Airports Division. Higashi has more than 25 years of public service in state government. He received his B.A. in accounting from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
Chow is appointed Harbors Division deputy director, overseeing 10 commercial harbors across the state. Chow is the former chief of the Civil & Public Works Branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu District. His work experience also includes serving as chief of the Water & Infrastructure Division, U.S. Forces – Kabul, Afghanistan, and as resident engineer Danger Resident Office, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Tikrit, Iraq.
Ed Sniffen, Deputy Director for Highways
Sniffen is also being re-appointed to serve as the Highways Division deputy director, overseeing improvements and maintenance of about 2,500 lane miles of state highways. Sniffen was previously executive assistant to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. He also served as DOT Highways Division administrator and as technical design engineer in the Highways Division Design Branch. Sniffen is a civil engineer, having received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Santa Clara University.