T.J. Joseph, Operations Manager, Honolulu Habitat for Humanity Operations Manager

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T.J. Joseph, Operations Manager, Honolulu Habitat for Humanity Operations Manager. 

Honolulu Habitat for Humanity partners with families who cannot afford a traditional loan or mortgage to build their own home or repair an existing house. Each adult family member is required to help with the construction by contributing hours of "sweat equity". Habitat for Humanity also provides homeowner educational and financial services, on-site construction management and volunteer recruitment and management.

Each family follows a defined process involving an application, financial and homeowner education, financial review, family visits and site visits among other steps, to ensure the build and the home will be successful. Once a family moves into the home their mortgage payments go directly into a fund that enables Habitat for Humanity to build more houses for more families. 

TJ’s knowledge of the home building process comes first hand, as she, her husband and their four children were a Habitat for Humanity partner family building their own house on a Hawaiian Homelands lot in Waimanalo several years ago.

When TJ and her family were first starting their journey toward home ownership, she was diagnosed with stage-four cancer. After surgery and many months of chemo she was cancer-free but the battle had depleted their savings and they could no longer afford a traditional mortgage to build on their lot.

The Josephs along with five other families worked side by side with volunteers, community groups and Habitat for Humanity staff every Saturday for a year and a half to realize their dream of home ownership.

Though their children were too young to work on-site, TJ and her husband Levi involved them by discussing the values that were the foundation of their family. Values like honor, faith, love and humility. The children wrote down these values and placed one in each of the 24 footing that would support their home.

TJ shared her personal pillars that helped her on the path to home ownership and in her work today helping others.  Always learn. Lead by example. Pride - confidence tempered with humility. Reciprocate.

Habitat for Humanity is supported by grants, donations and proceeds from Restore - a retail store that accepts donation of construction materials and furniture for resale.  For more information visitwww.honoluluhabitat.org.

Janice Okubo, Communications Director Hawaii State Department of Health

Our July Speaker was Janice Okubo, Communications Director at the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH).  Her office handles the media relations and public information for all public health issues.  Janice has a fine arts degree from the University of Hawaii.  She says the background gave her two valuable lessons: 1) how to receive criticism and learn from it and 2) the value of process…learning the steps and being open to innovation.  Both of these lessons have helped her in her role at the DOH.

Janice’s presentation topic was medical marijuana and how the Department of Health worked to build a program for the coordination of patient registration, dispensary licensing and certification of testing labs in largely unknown and uncharted territory with no national guidelines. More than 17 years ago Act 228 was signed into law, allowing qualified patients to register with the state for the use of and ability to grow medical marijuana.  In 2015 the responsibility of oversight was transferred to the Department of Health.

DOH was not given any additional funding or staffing to oversee this program.  At the time, there were 11,000 registered patients all managed in a paper-based format.  The DOH has created a website to handle registration, information and certification. The number of registered patients has increased by more than 30% to over 17,000 registered patients.

Besides the oversight on patient registration, DOH now supports the dispensary-licensing program.  The DOH was tasked with screening over 66 applicants and selected 8 qualified dispensary licensees.  Other States have begun medical marijuana programs without lab testing requirements leading to some serious health issues.  The Hawaii DOH is working to certify labs to ensure safe product for qualified patients.
Janice closed her talk by recognizing four women she considers strong and brilliant leaders in public health who she feels fortunate to have worked with at DOH.  They are the past four directors of the department:

  • Dr.  Chiyome Fukino
  • Loretta Fuddy
  • Dr. Linda Rosen
  • Dr. Virginia Pressler, the current director



Major General Susan Davidson

Commanding General, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
by Mona Choy-Beddow

A wife, mother, grandmother, and Major General of the United States Army in command of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command (TSC), Susan Davidson stood proudly in her Army dress uniform bedecked with rows of ribbons signifying awards and decorations earned throughout her distinguished military career.  

She spoke humbly of her younger years growing up in St. Joe, Florida as the only daughter of six children in a prominent Orange Grove family.  She earned her chemistry degree from the New Mexico State University and upon graduation delayed her 5-year commitment to the Army for several months to help her father in his orchard farm.  When her initial Army commitment was complete, Susan thought she would return to the citrus business, but realized that she liked what she was doing in the Army. Susan never thought that she was going to make the Army her career, but like her five brothers, the military was inevitable.  As each sibling entered the service, they were commissioned by their father, a lieutenant colonel in the Florida National Guard. 

As MG Davidson described, the Army has taught her to “know your stuff”, tell your story” and “have fun”.   These themes she shared in the many examples of answering the call to duty and enjoying the camaraderie of her peers.  She has held various transportation support and logistic positions, including tours during operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.

The ladies of OWL left the luncheon with a tremendous sense of pride.  As one of their own who has served our country to the best of her ability is now leading a major Army command of thousands of soldiers and a large geographic

Kristina Lockwood, General Manager KHON2


KHON2's general manager Kristina Lockwood's journey to the top started with the help of a woman she credits as one of her great mentors, longtime MidWeek executive Dianne Pereira.  Dianne gave Kristina her first big break, hiring her at 19 years old, as an account executive.   Kristina embraced the opportunity to take on a job she knew little about, and learned all that she could, as she pursued her new career.   It was the belief that Dianne had in Kristina that sticks with her today.  "Strong women lift each other up," she shared, "I was determined not to disappoint her."

Under the guidance of mentors such as Dianne, Rick Blangiardi (KGMB GM) and Wally Zimmerman (KHON GM), Kristina challenged herself to keep learning and growing in her roles in sales at KGMB, KITV and KHON.  During that time she also decided to go back to night school to earn her college degree, one of her proudest achievements.  She was already serving as general sales manager at KGMB when she took a position at Cox Media in San Diego, breaking into a new and much larger market.  Cox Media also provided excellent training and development opportunities that prepared her well for her role of general manager at KHON2.   She credits her rise to general manager at KHON to her natural curiosity, her positive attitude, her relationship building skills, and her choice to always surround herself with people that lift her up. 

At KHON2, Kristina knows that the competition in the broadcasting business is fierce.  A big challenge at KHON has been having three owners in four years.  With each ownership change, the station has been able to adapt and embrace what the new owners have to offer.  Her current focus has been to growing KHON's online and social media presence and developing a KHON app.  She also believes in serving the community and the advertisers by creating opportunities and long-term programming such as Living 808 and Sam Choy In the Kitchen. 

Kristina attributes the station's ratings success to the culture of "yes" that has developed at KHON.  She always works on building the morale, relationships and trust among her employees to make KHON not only a great place to work , but a station that truly serves Hawaii.

Deborah Zysman, Executive Director, Children's Action Fund

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Deborah Zysman, Executive Director, Children's Action Fund

What We Heard
January 9, 2017

Calling all Superheroes

At our January luncheon we had the privilege of hearing from Deborah Zysman Executive Director of the Hawaii Children’s Action Network (HCAN). She shared with us the amazing work done by HCAN and from where she draws her motivation.  Hawaii Children's Action Network (HCAN) is an independent, nonpartisan children's policy and advocacy non-profit organization.  Its mission is to build a unified voice, educating & advocating for Hawaii's children.
Deborah's personal connection to caring for others comes from the strong women in her family.  One grandmother was a union organizer, the other a holocaust survivor. She comes from tough stock where fairness, justice and equity were issues discussed at the dinner table.
HCAN takes a long range view to mitigate poverty and inequity. They are focusing on investing in children, investing in the future. Child and family issues are not the “soft stuff”. Family issues have a significant impact on the health of our economy.  The future of our children is the future of our community. Investing in schools and child care now will build the workforce of the future.
“If we want to work on social justice we need to start with kids.”
Poverty and inequity play a key role in health and welfare of our keiki. There is a strong correlation between the developmental level of a child at age 5 and their probability of graduating from high school and college.
Deborah shared some startling statistics:

        --  15% of  Hawaii children live in extreme poverty
        --  51% of Hawaii keiki in public schools had no preschool
        --  90% of child’s brain develops by age 5, so early disparities mean kids playing catch up for the rest
                     of their lives.
Children who fail at school are less employable and less productive in our society. Investment in early childhood education and improved early screenings for sight, hearing and developmental issues will have long term benefits for the children and our community.
Opportunities to be a superhero for Hawaii’s keiki include volunteering your time and talents, becoming a sponsor (donations welcome) becoming an advocate who communicates with policy makers, write letters and lobbies for our children. (www.hawaii-can.org).