Mayor-elect Caldwell announces cabinet appointments

Kirk Caldwell will be sworn into office on Wednesday

Published  5:22 PM HST Dec 29, 2012
Mayoral candidate Kirk Caldwell
HONOLULU, Hawaii -

Mayor-elect Kirk Caldwell, who will be sworn into office on Wednesday, announced Saturday his appointments in the Mayor's Office, Managing Director's Office, and for the directorships of city agencies.

Ember Shinn has been named managing director, marking the first time in Honolulu history that a woman has been appointed to this key city management post. Prior to his election, Caldwell vowed to include more diversity in his cabinet selections and to place more women in top positions. 

The transition team received more than 400 applications for employment with the new administration.

“I’m excited about the team we’re building to manage the city,” said Caldwell. “I’m proud of the fact that Ember will be the first woman managing director, and that we will have top people in my administration who are so dedicated to public service.   What was striking in the interviews was that people chose to work for government because they want to accomplish something for the community and they feel they can make a difference.”

The Mayor-elect's cabinet appointments are as follows:

Mayor's Office and Managing Director's Office

Ember Shinn – managing director.  Shinn served as the executive assistant to Acting Mayor Caldwell in 2010.  She has more than 20 years of experience practicing law in California where she represented public and private entities in public law and employment litigation. She served as general counsel for Oakland Unified School District and the Peralta Community College District. 

Shinn returned home to Hawaii in 2001, retired from the practice of law, and worked for the State House of Representatives as staff attorney for the judiciary committee and as special assistant and chief of staff for the speaker of the house.

Georgette Deemer – deputy managing director.  Deemer served as the director of communications for the House of Representatives, where she worked with Caldwell when he was the House majority leader.

She served for 15 years as the state of Hawaii film commissioner under the Ariyoshi, Waihee and Cayetano administrations where she developed working relationships with city, state and federal agencies for film permitting for local, national and international production.  She oversaw the design, construction and management of the Hawaii Film Studio at Diamond Head.  In addition to her duties as deputy managing director, she will oversee and unify the city’s communications efforts across all agencies, elevating the importance of communications in the Caldwell administration.

Jesse Broder Van Dyke – director of communications.  Broder Van Dyke served as the director of communications for U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka until the senator’s recent retirement. He has extensive experience in media relations, writing, social media management, and has served as a news producer and assignment editor for KHON –TV.

Cabinet Directors (in alphabetical order)

Michael D. Formby – director of transportation services.  Formby served as the interim director of transportation under the Lingle administration, where he oversaw the management of the Airports, Harbors and Highways divisions. 

Prior to that, he was the deputy director of the Harbors Division. At the DOT state level, he worked extensively on project planning and implementation, and with the state’s environmental assessment and environmental impact statement process. Formby is an attorney; he has been a litigator for the past 20 years, and has taught at the William S. Richardson School of Law and Hawaii Pacific University. He supports Mayor Caldwell’s vision for rail and other transportation issues.

Lori Kahikina – director of environmental services. Kahikina served as the director of design and construction in the Carlisle administration, where she oversaw and maintained the capital improvement project budgets for various city agencies, and directed the planning, engineering, design, construction and improvements of public buildings, streets, roads, bridges, wastewater facilities, and transportation systems. 

She has also worked in the Department of Environmental Services in the Division of Collection System Maintenance where she has extensive experience related to the city’s wastewater system.  Kahikina is a Civil Engineer.

Sheri Kajiwara – director of customer services. Kajiwara is the former Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Prudential Advantage Realty, a local, award winning, real estate firm.  She rejoins the city with over 12 years of experience in the Mayor & Managing Director’s Office handling community concerns.  Kajiwara also voluntarily coordinated Honolulu City Lights for over a decade. 

Carolee C. Kubo – director of human resources. Kubo has over 22 years of experience in the human resources and labor relations arena.  She served as the Human Resources Manager/Labor Relations for the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, as a Field Officer for the Hawaii Government Employees Association, and as an Unemployment Insurance Specialist for the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.  She is knowledgeable on personnel management and administration, private and public sector collective bargaining laws, and workplace issues.

Pamela Witty Oakland – director of community services. Witty Oakland served as vice president of Asset Management for the St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii.  In that position, she managed leasing and property management teams for a $78 million real estate portfolio, developed and implemented a resident service coordination program for fixed income seniors, and directed the financing, development and construction of the Franciscan Vistas Ewa project which was financed with low-income housing tax credits and tax-exempt bonds.  Prior to the work at St. Francis, she was a legislative researcher for the Senate President and an executive assistant to the City Council Chair.

Mark Knapp Rigg – director of emergency services. Rigg has served with the Emergency Services Department for 30 years.  He started as a paramedic in 1982 and worked his way up as a unit supervisor and field operations supervisor.  He most recently served as the Deputy Director, responsible for budget preparation and management, administration of collective bargaining agreements, personnel management and external relations.  He is a licensed Emergency Medical Technician – Paramedic, and a Mobile Intensive Care Technician/Mobile Emergency Care.

Ross S. Sasamura – director of facility maintenance. Sasamura returns to the Department of Facility Maintenance as Director after a decade of working in the private sector.  He recently served as Senior Account Executive and Senior Vice President and COO of Heide & Cook, where he managed, supervised and had oversight of the company’s construction projects involving mechanical systems, such as air conditioning, ventilation, fire sprinkler and plumbing systems.  He also had oversight of company facilities, equipment and materials.  Sasamura is a licensed professional engineer (mechanical).

Chris T. Takashige – director of design and construction. Takashige becomes the Director of Design and Construction after serving as its Deputy since 2011.  He assisted the director in managing the general operations and supervising employees.  He was responsible for overseeing the management of capital improvement projects for city departments, with the total number of projects at any given time ranging from 600-800.  Examples include road repair and reconstruction, wastewater collection and plant systems, street and parking lot lighting, police and fire stations, community parks structures, pedestrian and vehicular bridges, and flood control and storm drainage systems.

The director positions of the following departments are yet to be filled.  Until that time, the current deputy or other senior manager will assume the responsibilities and duties of the director.

Corporation Counsel

Budget and Fiscal Services

Enterprise Services

Information Technology

Medical Examiner

Parks and Recreation

Planning and Permitting

The directors of the Board of Water Supply, Emergency Management, HART, and Chiefs of the Fire Police Departments are not appointed by the Mayor.

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