President's Message

Pamela Harms President, Organization of Women Leaders

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.