Happy Year of the Rooster! I would like to offer my warmest Aloha to Trustee Haunani Apoliona who left OHA after 20-years of service to our beneficiaries. We may have had our share of differences in the past two decades but I never doubted the commitment of Trustee Apoliona or her dedicated staff, Reynold Freitas and Louise Yee-Hoy, to serving our Native Hawaiian beneficiaries. I wish them all a fond farewell and best wishes on their future endeavors.
I would also like to congratulate newly elected OHA Trustee William Keli’i Akina and welcome him to the Board of Trustees. He shares my passion to make OHA fiscally sustainable and I look forward to working with him to fulfill OHA’s mission to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians.
Hope for change
A new year brings new hope that OHA can finally make the changes it needs to improve its overall effectiveness. Some of the areas we can focus on include:
- Getting OHA back in touch with the “Big Picture.” We must refocus our Administrative Staff towards areas that our beneficiaries feel matter the most such as health and housing.
- OHA needs to move towards a merit-based system that relies more on what you know instead of who you know. Loyalty alone should not determine who gets to be the highest paid and promoted employees. Those who actually know things must be included in decision making process.
- OHA needs to revisit its policies and rules. In the past 5 to 6 years we have tied our own hands with rules that hamper our efforts to help our beneficiaries. We need to find a more efficient way to run our essential programs such as community grants. In 2017, we must re-evaluate what we have been doing and where we should be going.
- OHA needs to allow some amount of criticism to enter our discussions about how we operate. A Trustees or staff member that points out a problem should not be seen as some sort of threat or obstacle. No one should be afraid of sharing their ideas or intimidated into keeping quiet.
- Cooperation between Trustees and the Administration should be encouraged. Current communication protocols forbid Trustees from directly contacting Administrative Staff and Managers. All communications must go through a process that is inefficient and discourages collaborative work. This needs to change.
It will take dedication and a commitment by Trustees to transform OHA back into the effective agency it once was. We need to serve our beneficiaries with a purpose that will produce meaningful results in all aspects of their lives. Somewhere along the way we lost sight of what a Trust is and its true purpose has been pushed aside. Our goal for 2017 should be to return our focus back to our beneficiaries.
I would like to wish my fellow Trustees and all of our beneficiaries a very safe and Happy New Year! Aloha Ke Akua.