I am coming to the end of my career as the CEO of Hale Kipa since I am retiring by the end of 2021, and thus this will be my last piece in the Transition Newsletter.
In March of 2022 I would have completed 24 years as the CEO of Hale Kipa and 52 years as non-profit CEO. I have only had 2 jobs in my professional career, having spent 28 years as the CEO of LUK, Inc. in Massachusetts before coming to Hale Kipa. As I think about my time in Hawaii, what comes to mind most is the people that I have had the opportunity to work with and meet. I have been blessed to get to know some truly amazing and wonderful people. It is unusual, at least in nonprofit literature, to find a CEO speaking affirmatively about the relationship that they have with their Board of Directors. But the Hale Kipa Board has been, and I hope will continue to be, one of the strengths of this organization. Similarly, the Leadership Team at Hale Kipa is an extraordinarily competent and talented group. I would say that the common threads between these two groups is that people leave their egos at the door and subscribe to subordinating themselves to a higher purpose. A Board member recently said that it is obvious that the Board is deeply connected to the mission and has a passion for supporting the organization. That is also true not only of Leadership at Hale Kipa, but all the staff here.
I have had a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow in my time at Hale Kipa, and that may sound a little odd since I already had 28 years as a CEO when I arrived in 1998. But I remind people that the experience that I have had in Hawaii has required me to evolve personally, professionally, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually; and that has been extremely helpful to me. When I got to Hawaii, I honestly felt that Sam Cox, my predecessor at Hale Kipa, was one of the nicest people that I have ever met. I cannot say that I necessarily felt that was true of me at that time, coming from the East Coast and having worked in Massachusetts for 28 years in a very competitive and complicated environment. As I look back at my time in Hawaii, I can see that my style and my approach have evolved. My values, guiding principles and core philosophies have not. But the way that I look at what I do and how I go about it is different, and that is exactly why I came to Hawaii. When I was working on the mainland, I would come here for a month at a time to rejuvenate, to gain perspective, and to heal. There was something spiritually therapeutic about being in Hawaii as visitor. I have found, surprisingly, that that also is true of having the privilege of living and working here.
I believe deeply in the mission of Hale Kipa. I admire and respect all the youth, young adults, and families that we are privileged to serve for their courage in confronting their histories and their willingness to take risks. I am always mindful that they trust us with their most intimate and personal thoughts and feelings, sharing their trauma and their pain. But they also share their hopes and dreams and are willing to try new behaviors, new ways of thinking, and new ways of seeing themselves and the world. And when those do not generate results that they want or need, since there are sadly too few smooth roads in their life journey, they pick themselves up and try again. Their persistence and perseverance are inspirational to me, as are the staff that work with them every day who try to live our organizational values and make every effort to meet people where they are, see their strengths, and support them even when they have challenges and difficulties.
I trust that the next CEO will share my passion for the work that we do and my belief in those we serve. For we are all responsible for not only the future, but to honor the past in the work that we do. I hope that in the end, that will be the legacy that I leave. Hale Kipa is a wonderful organization. It has a wonderful Board, an outstanding staff, and more than anything it has heart, values, and guiding principles that are alive every day in the work that we do.
I appreciate the opportunity that I have had to be the CEO at Hale Kipa, and I will be forever thankful for that. Aloha. A Hui Hou.