Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Things I Learned Managing a Public Agency

Tomorrow marks the end of a significant chapter in my life, serving the public in the executive branch of Hawaii state government.  

In 2011, I was honored to be appointed by Governor Abercrombie and confirmed by the senate to serve as the Director of the State of Hawaii Office of Planning.  More recently, I served as the first deputy to the chair of the Department of Land and Natural Resources

With the hardworking civil servants of these agencies, community and business partnerships, and the support of elected officials, we accomplished many great things.  To name just a few, the State of Hawaii adopted a statewide climate change adaptation policy that is integrated into the statewide planning system; we moved state agencies forward on transit-oriented development as it relates to state properties along the planned 20-mile, 21-station Honolulu rail transit project; we developed a statewide food security strategy; we completed the 2014 Hawaii Ocean Resources Management Plan; we laid the groundwork for Hawaii's hosting of the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress; and we addressed all manner of issues related to the management and planning of the sustainable use of Hawaii's public trust resources.

During this time, I applied some key concepts from the great leaders and examples around me, which have worked well:
  • "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike."  -John Muir
  • Integrate environment, economy, and culture in all decisions.
  • Your audience is current and future generations.
  • Trust the people you lead.
  • Listen and learn from the interested public--empathize.
  • Have the courage to remain logical and rational in the face of emotional decision-making.
  • Look up, walk around, talk to people.
  • People may disagree on how to accomplish something, but they all care about Hawaii, its people, and its natural resources--creative solutions are often found in the latter sentiment.
Finally, Hawaii is a wonderful place because of the people who choose a career in public service, members of the business community who choose to invest in building communities, and residents with a stake in Hawaii's future who contribute to finding solutions to meet our collective challenges.

Mahalo and Aloha!

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