Senate Confirms Human Services Director, Committees Advance Other Nominees
By Maui Now Staff
The State Senate confirmed James Nishimoto to the Department of Human Services Development on Thursday, while two other department head appointees gained committee approval.
The appointments of Nolan Espinda to the Department of Public Safety; and Rachael Wong to the Department of Human Services now advance to the full Senate for final consideration.
Nishimoto Confirmed by Full Senate to DHRD:
Judiciary and Labor committee chair, Senator Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran of Maui commented on the confirmation of Nishimoto in a legislative press release saying, “Mr. Nishimoto believes and understands that a better state workforce is good for our community. If Mr. Nishimoto can pass on to his staff the same passion, I feel confident that he can lead change efforts that enhance service support at other state agencies.”
Legislative staff noted that Nishimoto’s experience includes several past positions with the University of Hawaiʻi including: executive assistant to the President of the University of Hawaiʻi; vice president for Budget and Finance at UH; director of Academic Personnel Administration, Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, UH System; and associate director of Human Resources, UH System office.
He also held leadership roles as deputy director of the Department of Human Services Development, and administrator of Collective Bargaining and Negotiations for the state Department of Education.
Wong Confirmed by Committee on Human Services:
The State Senate Committee on Human Services and Housing voted to confirm gubernatorial nominee Rachael Wong, DrPH as the director of the Department of Human Services.
“Dr. Wong’s strong experience and compassion to improve community health makes her the perfect candidate for this critically important position,” said Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland, Chair, Committee on Human Services and Housing in a press release announcement.
Wong most recently served as vice president and chief operating officer of the Healthcare Association of Hawaiʻi. “Her career speaks strongly about her passion for community-oriented service. Her collaborative spirit and strong belief in people make her an ideal leader for the Department,” said Chun Oakland
“I’m very honored to be working with not only the great team at DHS, but having the confidence of the Senators in this committee and the department means a great deal,” said Wong.
Espinda Confirmed by Committee on Public Safety:
Members of the state Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs confirmed Nolan Espinda, the Governor’s nominee for director for the Department of PublicSafety.
Senator Will Espero commented on the committee confirmation saying, “He has the experience, the knowledge and the background to lead the department. He saw the department from many angles and many perspectives. Now it’s his turn andhopefully he’ll be able to take all of that information he has absorbed over the years and make the positivechanges in the department that we’re looking for.”
Espinda has been serving as the warden at the Hālawa Correctional Facility since 2009, and has been employed with the Public Safety department since 1983.