Punky Pletan-Cross, the longtime CEO of Hale Kipa, is retiring at the end of 2021. The Hawai‘i nonprofit organization, which has served at-risk youth and their families for more than 50 years, is conducting a search for a new CEO.
Raised in North Dakota by public school math teachers, Pletan-Cross developed a “profound sense of social justice and a deep commitment to finding a way to contribute.” He started his career as a street youth outreach worker through VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America, a domestic Peace Corps program), and helped found LUK Inc., a nonprofit multi-service adolescent and family counseling agency in Massachusetts in 1970. He served as the organization’s CEO for 28 years before becoming CEO of Hale Kipa in 1998. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and political science, and an MBA with a concentration in public management from Boston University.
“I have always believed in the youth we are privileged to serve and their ability to work through extraordinary circumstances to build their strengths and reach their full potential,” Pletan-Cross said. “Hale Kipa’s efforts are focused on lifting up our most at-risk communities, and I look forward to the tremendous work the organization will continue to accomplish in the years to come.”
During his leadership, Hale Kipa has grown into one of Hawai‘i’s leading youth services organizations, reaching thousands of at-risk youth and their families each year through a wide range of programs and partnerships. This includes foster care, residential services, mental health programs and street outreach.Pletan-Cross recently led the opening of the new Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Hale Kipa Youth Services Center in ‘Ewa, marking a 50-year milestone from the organization’s founding as a single emergency shelter on O‘ahu.
“Hale Kipa has been profoundly shaped by Punky’s leadership – he has an unmatched ability to listen to the voices that aren’t being heard and identify the unmet needs in how we serve our youth and their families. His vision is that whatever we may accomplish, we can always be doing better,” said Scott Seu, Hale Kipa’s Board Chair. “Punky will be greatly missed, but he has set the stage for a bright future for the organization as it embarks on its next 50 years serving our communities.”
Our heart’s mission is to serve. We continuously strive to make a positive impact in our local communities. Watch and learn how Hale Kipa programs and services have made a big difference in the lives of Hawai‘i’s at-risk youth and their families.
Over 67,000 Hawai‘i youth have benefited from Hale Kipa's programs and services since 1970.
45% of Youth Served are of Native Hawaiian Descent.
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