Scott Seu, senior vice president of public affairs at Hawaiian Electric Company, was recently appointed Hale Kipa’s Board Chair for the 2017-2018 year, following Luke Yeh’s 7-year tenure in the position. Scott reflects on how he got involved with Hale Kipa and on the board’s focus for the years to come.
How were you introduced to Hale Kipa?
Around 2008, I was serving as a manager at Hawaiian Electric, focusing on engineering and energy. Hawaiian Electric has a strong program of supporting employee volunteerism, and I was interested in broadening my community involvement and making an impact outside my industry. I was lucky enough to be introduced to Hale Kipa and CEO Punky Pletan-Cross through mutual friends. At the time I knew little about the organization outside of its work with foster youth.
What got you interested in serving on the board?
After I learned more about Hale Kipa’s programs and roles in helping Hawaii families and at-risk youth, Punky invited me to be on the board. This was about 10 years ago, and I had this great opportunity to learn under former Board Chair Luke Yeh. Coming from another industry, it was daunting at first to have such a steep learning curve. I am still amazed at how the leadership and staff here accomplish so much with all of the various programs and processes involved, especially as things can change rapidly.
Walk us through your main duties on the board and the basics of how it works.
Our board typically meets monthly, and we also have committee meetings covering finance, strategic visioning, and quality improvement, among other things. We help guide policy and direction, enhance support in our communities, and serve as a sounding board for major decisions. We also provide oversight to make sure the organization runs well, with the proper management and controls in place.
What is an important quality for a board member to have?
Given the nature of the organization, we are constantly dealing with change. It is important to be flexible, and to look around the corner for what changes and opportunities might be coming down the pike.
What are the areas of focus for the board this year?
Hale Kipa has weathered its share of challenges, and today we are pleased to be in a strong position. We provide services at no cost to at-risk youth and their families, so public support, as well as private donations, are vital for our operations. One of our goals, because we are so behind-the-scenes in how we provide support, is to get out there more and let people know who we are and what we do.
We are continuing Hale Kipa’s capital campaign to build a best-in-class complex on 4.26 acres located on Old Fort Weaver Road in Ewa that will serve as the agency’s headquarters. This location will consolidate Hale Kipa’s programs and operations to improve service quality, reduce costs and build a sense of place in West Oahu. We expect to break ground later this year.
Completing the facility and transitioning the organization there represents a great opportunity to reinvigorate and strengthen the identity of Hale Kipa and have a piko – or center – for the youth and staff.
Scott Seu is the senior vice president of public affairs at Hawaiian Electric Company, where he provides leadership in Hawaiian Electric’s engagement with community, government, media, and regulatory groups. He joined Hawaiian Electric in 1993 and has held various leadership positions across the company, including in the areas of environmental management, customer programs, and renewable energy development. He most recently served as vice president of System Operation, operating Oahu’s electric system, prior to taking on his current role in 2017.
In addition to his work at Hawaiian Electric and board leadership at Hale Kipa, Scott serves on the boards of the Bishop Museum, Teach for America Hawaii, and Hawai‘i Green Growth. He also supports the University of Hawaii’s College of Engineering as a member of the Dean’s Council. Scott is a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, and is a licensed mechanical engineer in the State of Hawai‘i.
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