Maui News

Senate Hearing Begins on Board of Education Nominees

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By Wendy Osher

Wes Lo. File image courtesy MMMC.

The Senate Committee on Education begins confirmation hearings today on the Governor’s nominations to the Board of Education. The first of two hearings takes place this afternoon and includes review of the following nominees:

  • Don Horner, chief executive officer and chairman of First Hawaiian Bank.  Governor Neil Abercrombie chose Horner to serve on the elected BOE to fill a vacancy on Feb. 9, and designated him to serve as chair of the Board.
  • Brian De Lima, attorney and former Hawaii County Council Member
  • Wesley Lo, Chief Executive Officer at Maui Memorial Medical Center.
  • Kim Gennaula, philanthropy director at the Kapiolani Health Foundation and former news anchor.
  • Jim Williams, administrator and CEO of the Hawaii Employer-Union Benefits Trust Fund (retired)

A separate hearing will be held on Friday, April 8, 2011 at 1:15 p.m. At that time, the committee will consider confirmation of the four remaining nominees that include:

  • Nancy Budd, attorney and a member of the Kauai Planning and Action Alliance Public Education Action Team
  • Charlene Cuaresma, associate director of the UH Manoa Graduate Professional Access Program
  • Cheryl Kauhane Lupenui, former chief executive officer of the YWCA on Oahu
  • Keith Amemiya, executive administrator and secretary of the Board of Regents and former executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association.

“As members of the initial nine that will serve on an appointed Board of Education, we are looking forward to engaging them in thoughtful discussions on the role of the board members and what they see as the future of public education in Hawaii,” said Jill Tokuda, committee chair.


Following the hearings this week, the committee will make its recommendations to the full Senate, with a floor vote expected shortly thereafter.

Hawaii residents voted to approve of a constitutional amendment in November that gives the Governor the authority to appoint members to the BOE, doing away with the previous process of electing Board members.

Act 5 was signed into law by the governor on March 14, 2011, and the Governor announced his BOE selections last week.


The Board consists of nine members including: one member from the county of Hawaii, one member from the county of Maui, one member from the county of Kauai, 3 members from the city and county of Honolulu, and three at-large-members.  The Governor was also tasked with selecting one of the at-large members as the chairperson.


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