Sharon Narimatsu, who worked for City Hall and Shirleyanne Chew, then with Hawaiian Telephone Company, met at a reception and found they had common concerns as professional women. Inspired by this chance meeting, the two agreed that women in government and business careers needed a forum to network.
At their invitation, 15 women leaders from government and business gathered at the Amfac Tower on June 27, 1984, to brainstorm about such an organization, which they strongly agreed was important. They decided the group would provide a network among decision-makers in the public and private sectors, and be a forum for them to share ideas, information, and support. They agreed it would be neither political nor fund-raising in nature.
Thus, their chance meeting gave birth to the Organization of Women Leaders, a networking group that shares information and offers support among professional women in the community. On August 3, 1984, officers were elected. The first membership directory listed 56 women.
1985 Sharon Narimatsu 1986 Shirleyanne Chew
1987 Barbara Marumoto 1988 Linda “Fritz” McKenzie
1989 Suzanne Peterson 1990 Ramona Mullahey
1991 Faith Evans 1992 Gitta Covey
1993 Pauline Namuo 1994 Joyce Ingram-Chinn
1995 Carol Costa 1996 Stephanie Saito
1997 Jeanette Takamura 1998 Claire Cooper
1999 Sharon Narimatsu 2000 Karen Nakamura
2001 Peggy Hong 2002 Kelly Walsh
2003 Pearl Imada-Iboshi 2004 Michelle Kakazu
2005 Janice Nielsen 2006 Barbra Pleadwell
2007 Shelley Wilson 2008 Linda Dias
2009 Pamela Martin 2010 Linda Nakamura
2011 Mimi Beams 2012 Stacia Murray
2013 Tracie Young 2014 Kathleen Perkins
2015 Julie Inouye 2016 Kate Braden
2017 Julie Arigo 2018 Valerie Schmidt
Meet our Board
We are off to a great start in 2019! Therese Dickerson, a Senior Vice President at Bank of Hawaii, began our 2019 OWL luncheons with an in-depth look at organizational development and how we can use this model to better our workplaces. Working to make our organizations operate at peak performance is an important prong in our efforts to Lead by Example.
Because OWL will hold its March meeting at the YWCA O‘ahu, and our guest speaker will be its CEO, Noriko Namiki, I have chosen this month to highlight the terrific women leaders, named and unnamed, who have made the YWCA O‘ahu what it is today. In 1900, Mrs. B.F. Dillingham founded the YWCA O‘ahu for Honolulu’s working women to build friendships, develop shared values, and learn skills that promote community engagement. In 1904, Mrs. E.W. Jordan became the first President, with membership growing to 128 ladies. Queen Lili‘uokalani became a member of YWCA O‘ahu in 1914, the same year the first Business Women's Club was established. In 1919, the Atherton Family donated the Fernhurst Building to YWCA O‘ahu as a tribute to their daughter Kate and her deep interest in the welfare of girls. Another woman, Julia Morgan, designed the Fernhurst facility and the current Richards Street building, which was named Laniākea, meaning “open skies.” Julia Morgan is still considered one of American’s most prestigious female architects.
By the 1970s, YWCA O‘ahu was involved in legislative issues on equal rights, the treatment of juveniles, environmental protection and programs for immigrants. Throughout the ‘80s, ‘90s, and into the ‘2000s, the ladies of the YWCA have established highly successful programs, including the Homebase program, which provides housing and supportive services to assist women regain stability as they move toward independent living and permanent housing, the Patsy T. Mink Center for Business and Leadership which promotes the economic and leadership advancement of women throughout their careers, and the state’s first and only community-based work furlough program.
The women who have worked with the YWCA O‘ahu since its establishment in 1900 have made a difference in the lives of thousands of women. This spirit of giving and willingness to assist women truly embodies the example we should emulate. While many of us do not work in the non-profit field, we can do our part by helping other women attain their goals – whether in the workplace or through volunteering. Such efforts set the example of a good leader who cares about helping others meet their potential.