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
I am excited and honored to be your 2019 OWL President! Having been a member of OWL for several years, and spent the last three years publishing the OWL Newsletter, I am constantly impressed by the dedicated professionals that comprise our OWL membership. From learning about our OWL ladies’ amazing accomplishments to attending our luncheons where we hear from accomplished women in Hawaii, the Organization of Women Leaders is an incredible group of ladies.
This year, I would like to ask our members to think about our professional examples. Who have been the leaders in our own professional development who we have tried to emulate and why? Do we take the time out of our busy schedules to consider if we truly are setting our best example for those we lead? Some of the attributes I think about when I consider a good leader include being passionate about the organization’s mission, encouraging teamwork, fostering honesty, and setting standards. Leading by example doesn’t just happen, it takes commitment and the ability to objectively reflect on our own leadership style.
With this in mind, I’d like to take time in each of my President’s messages to highlight a particular woman leader who has set a high standard in leadership. For my first woman, I have chosen Patsy Mink. Of course, there is not enough space in this short message to detail all of this amazing woman’s accomplishments. Most of us know she was the first Asian-American woman (and first woman of an ethnic minority) to be elected to the U.S. Congress (in 1964), and she was instrumental in drafting and passing Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination by federally funded institutions. She also introduced the first comprehensive Early Childhood Education Act and the Women’s Educational Equity Act.
Patsy Mink really wanted to become a doctor. But in 1948, no medical school to which she applied would accept women. So instead of being defeated, she became a lawyer to advocate for change. After passing the Hawaii bar exam in 1953, however, she continued to face discrimination in finding work as an attorney, so she created a solo practice and, as they say, the rest is history!
I encourage each of you to read about this amazing woman. Think about how she was able to get beyond the many obstacles she faced and become a leader in the U.S. Congress, build coalitions, and pass important legislation. She certainly exemplifies the honest, passionate, team leader that “walked the walk.”
Here’s to an amazing 2019 at OWL and to all of our women leaders!