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.
Morris served as head of land acquisition for the city’s Honolulu Rail Transit Project, state lands administrator and special projects coordinator for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, and research attorney for the Senate Majority Research Office, Hawai‘i State Senate.
He has also worked as an attorney in various capacities in the public and private sectors.
Morris is a graduate of Roosevelt High School, Yale University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and New York University School of Law where he earned his Juris Doctor.
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.
Shikada is a 30-year veteran with the Department of the Attorney General, having served 18 years as the Supervising Deputy Attorney General for the Education Division. Prior to that, she led a unit within the Department focused on ensuring compliance with a class-action settlement known as the Felix Consent Decree. Shikada also served in the Department’s Family Law Division and started her career in private practice with the Fujiyama Duffy & Fujiyama law firm. Shikada attended the University of Hawai‘i, Manoa, where she earned a B.A. in accounting and earned her law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law.
Hirai served as executive director of the Hawai‘i Housing Finance & Development Corporation (HHFDC), State of Hawai‘i since 2013. He is also the sole member of Craig K. Hirai, CPA, LLC. Previously, Hirai was a consultant (shareholder/director) at Bowen Hunsaker Hirai Consulting, Inc. and Bowen Hunsaker Hirai, Certified Public Accountants. In addition, Hirai worked as a tax attorney in private practice. Hirai is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) where he earned an M.S. in accounting and an M.B.A. He went on to earn his J.D. at Hastings College of Law at the University of California San Francisco, and his LL.M – a Master of Laws (in taxation), a post-graduate law degree from New York University
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.
Chang most recently served as the coordinator of DBEDT’s Office of Aerospace Development. He has worked a legislative session as a bills researcher in the State Senate’s Ways and Means Committee and spent over a decade in the non-profit sector at HMSA as a senior analyst, section supervisor, and a marketing coordinator. He has owned and managed small businesses and currently serves on the Space Policy Committee of the Aerospace States Association.
Glenn served as director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) since 2015, where he led the modernization of the state environmental review process by developing new administrative rules and updating best practices.
In addition, Scott was the co-chair of the Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative, and liaison to the U.S. Climate Alliance – a coalition of U.S. governors committed to the Paris Agreement. In these roles, he worked with state, county, and federal agencies, as well as communities across the state, and stakeholders nationally and internationally to coordinate state policy development on energy, climate change, and key sustainability initiatives.
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.
Brigadier General Kenneth Hara, Adjutant General
Brig. Gen. Hara served as the Deputy Adjutant General since Jan. 2019. In addition, he has been the Assistant Adjutant General – Army since Jan. 2018, and since Feb. 2018 Hara was dual-hatted as the Deputy Chief of Staff, Army National Guard, Operations, G3, Eighth United States Army Korea. In addition, he has served as the chief of the Joint Staff for the Hawaiʻi National Guard where he was responsible for day-to-day operations. Prior to that, he served as commander for the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Hawaiʻi Army National Guard. Brig. Gen. Hara has served in command positions during deployments to Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. In addition to his federal mobilizations, Hara has served on several state missions in support of local authorities. Most notably he played key roles in the response following Hurricane Iniki in 1992, after an earthquake struck the island of Hawaiʻi in 2006, and as the Dual Status Commander of Joint Task Force 5-0 in support of the Kīlauea volcanic eruption and Hurricane Lane responses in 2018. Brig. Gen. Hara earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in human services from Hawaii Pacific University and a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.
Col. Logan served as the chief of staff of the Hawai‘i Army National Guard since Mar. 2017. Previously, he served as commander for the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, commander of the 103rd Troop Command, and as the state Army aviation officer for more than a decade, flying and managing both fixed and rotary wing aircraft. Logan is also a 22-year veteran of the Honolulu Police Department, retiring in 2004 as a patrol watch commander at the rank of Metropolitan Police Lieutenant. Logan served in key positions during his deployment to Afghanistan, working closely with Afghan National Police and Security Forces. In addition, Logan has served on several state missions in support of local authorities – most recently as the deputy commander of Joint Task Force 5-0 in support of the Kīlauea volcanic eruption and Hurricane Lane responses in 2018. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Chaminade University and a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College.
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.
Gomes most recently served as the partnership manager at Elemental Excelerator, where he oversaw the Elemental Hui – a partnership network of local business, non-profit, educational, and philanthropic institutions. Previously, Gomes served as deputy public defender in the Office of the Public Defender, and co-authored and co-edited legal pleadings in Waters v. Nago, which successfully overturned the 2018 election results in the District IV Honolulu City Council race. A resident of Maunawili, O‘ahu, Gomes is a graduate of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, having earned a bachelor’s degree in Hawaiian Language and a J.D. and certificate in Native Hawaiian Law from the William S. Richardson School of Law.
Char is an emergency physician and graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi, John A. Burns School of Medicine. After completing residency training in California, she returned to Hawaiʻi to the clinical practice of emergency medicine at The Queen’s Medical Center. She provided administrative oversight for the City and County of Honolulu EMS system for many years. Dr. Char currently focuses her efforts on developing systems of care, training, protocols and emergency response utilizing best practices in the pre-hospital environment. She provides medical direction for several EMS, Fire, and Ocean Safety agencies across the state of Hawaiʻi and is the current chair of the State of Hawaiʻi EMS Advisory Committee.
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.
Wong Tomiyasu was re-appointed to serve as Deputy Director of Health Resources at the State of Hawai‘i Department of Health. She has served in this position since 2015. The Health Resources Administration (HRA) oversees the divisions of Family Health Services, Disease Outbreak Control, Communicable Disease and Public Health Nursing, and Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. In addition, HRA includes the Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention System Branch and the Office of Health Care Assurance. Tomiyasu previously served as Chief of the Family Health Services Division overseeing statewide public health surveillance, systems, programs, and policy development for Maternal and Child Health; Children with Special Health Care Needs; Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children; Primary Care and Rural Health; and Oral Health. Tomiyasu also served as Chief of the Chronic Disease Management and Control Branch from October 2001 – August 2011.
Mersereau was appointed as Deputy Director of Behavioral Health at the State of Hawai‘i Department of Health by Gov. David Ige in December 2018. Mersereau previously served as Chief of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division from 2015-2019 and was the Executive Director and owner of Action with Aloha LLC from 2007-2015. The Deputy Director of Behavioral Health assist the Director of Health in the management and administration of behavioral health programs and services and provides leadership as the state mental health and substance abuse authority. The deputy oversees four divisions: Adult Mental Health, Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Alcohol and Substance Abuse, and Developmental Disabilities.
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.
Betts served as 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.
Joseph Campos II, Deputy Director
Campos has served as a State of Hawai‘i employee in various capacities; at the University of Hawai‘i, Department of Accounting and General Services, and most recently Department of Human Services. He has extensive administrative experience with a strong understanding of the State system. Campos completed his Ph.D. from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa in security studies and international relations in 2005.
Perreria-Eustaquio was the department’s deputy director and has spent her career in various capacities in DLIR’s unemployment division, most notably as administrator of the unemployment insurance program.
Perreira-Eustaquio was born and raised in Hilo and is a graduate of Waiākea High School. She also attended Chaminade University of Honolulu where she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting and a Master of Business Administration.
Vidinhar served as administrator for DLIR’s Disability Compensation Division since 2015. Vidinhar previously worked at the Department of Community Development for the City of Bremerton in Washington, where she was an assistant director and city building official, as well as a development manager and planner. Prior to her work with the City of Bremerton, Vidinhar was employed with Kitsap County’s Department of Community Development where she served as a senior planner, and building and planning supervisor.
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.
Otani was a board member for the Hawai‘i Paroling Authority (HPA). He has worked in a variety of positions in the state’s corrections and judicial systems for more than three decades. Otani began his criminal justice career with the Judiciary, as a Family Court officer and Circuit Court probation officer from 1985 to 1987. From there, he served more than two decades with the HPA in various positions. Otani became the Oahu Intake Services Center manager from 2003-2005, before he was promoted to Intake Service Center Division Administrator from 2011-2013. He then moved on to become PSD’s deputy director for Corrections from 2013-14, before returning to his previous position as administrator of the Intake Service Center Division, where he remained until his retirement from PSD in 2016.
Otani’s was born and raised in Hilo, Hawai‘i. He is a graduate of Hilo High School and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. Otani also attended the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa where he earned a master’s in social work.
Cook was a veteran deputy attorney general with 20 years of experience working in the Employment Law Division of the Department of the Attorney General, representing the interests of the state’s Executive, Legislative, Judiciary, and other state agencies in all employment and labor matters. Cook has a wide range of experience in public employment and labor matters, including civil litigation and related appeals, agency appeals, workers’ compensation, and collective bargaining, including interest arbitrations relating to new collective bargaining focused on presentation and analyses of state finances. She also provides advice and counsel to all state departments and agencies relating to personnel, employment, and labor matters. She earned her law degree from Loyola Law School in California, with membership in the Phi Delta Phi Law Honor Society, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.
Jordan began his thirty-nine (39) years of public service as an internal auditor for the Office of Regional Inspector and conducted operational reviews for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). He subsequently became a Special Agent with the Criminal Investigation Division for the IRS and conducted complex financial investigations. As his career continued, Jordan transferred to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives where he served as a Certified Explosives Specialist, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) lead agent, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Task Force Commander, Assistant Team Leader for Crisis Negotiation – Special Response Team, and Team Leader at the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Thailand. Jordan retired from the Bureau as the Resident Agent in Charge of the Honolulu Field Office and the Hawaiʻi County Office. After retiring from federal service, Jordan came full circle and began working for the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Taxation (DOTAX) as a Supervisory Special Agent for the Criminal Investigation Section. Upon his departure from DOTAX as the Chief Special Agent, Jordan joined the Honolulu Department of Prosecuting Attorney as the Chief Investigator for the Investigative Services Division.
Tommy Johnson, Deputy Director for Corrections
Johnson was the Parole and Pardons Administrator for the Hawai‘i Paroling Authority (HPA), a position he has held since 2001. He also served as PSD’s Deputy Director for Corrections from June 2007 to December 2010, when he returned to his current HPA position.
Johnson began his career in corrections 1996 as a Correctional Service Officer in Florence, Arizona. He moved to the Hawai‘i Youth Correctional Facility as a Youth Corrections Officer in 1997. In 1999 he served as a Personnel Management Specialist for the Housing and Community Development Corporation of Hawaii before moving on to his current Hawai‘i Paroling Authority position in 2001.
Choy is currently controller of Ko‘olauloa Health Center in Kahuku, ensuring all areas of compliance and regulatory reporting. He also maintains the clinic’s accounting records and prepares and administers the annual budget. Choy also lectures on ethics across the state. Previously, Choy served in the House of Representatives, Hawai‘i State Legislature, from 2008 to 2018. He is also a licensed certified public accountant and once headed his own firm – Isaac W. Choy CPA, Inc. Choy has a B.S. degree in Business Administration from San Jose State University and is a graduate of Roosevelt High School.
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.
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.
Lassner was appointed interim University of Hawai‘i president effective September 1, 2013. Since joining the University of Hawai‘i in 1977, Lassner has held a series of progressively more responsible technical, management and executive positions supporting the broad use of information technologies across the full mission of the university throughout the State. Lassner is also a member of the University’s Cooperating Graduate Faculty and has taught, both in-person and on-line, in the UH Department of Information & Computer Science, the College of Business Administration, the School of Communication and the College of Education as well as at Roosevelt University. Lassner has also served on the faculty of management institutes for IT leaders nationally and internationally. Prior to joining the University of Hawai‘i, David worked at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a student programmer on courseware development teams working with the PLATO system at the Computer-based Education Research Laboratory. Lassner holds an AB summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in economics, and an MS in computer science, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. He earned a PhD in communication and information sciences from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Hawai‘i.