Omidyar Fellows Program Announces First Class

September 5, 2012 10:57 am 1 comment

Omidyar FellowsThe Hawaii Leadership Forum announced today the 13 Fellows selected to participate in the inaugural class of the Omidyar Fellows program. Launched in May 2012, the Omidyar Fellows program was developed to inspire and equip emerging leaders with the skills needed to affect positive, lasting change in Hawaii.

“Omidyar Fellows is a long-term investment in our shared future. We are eager to work with the 2012 class, exploring new ideas and thinking that may benefit Hawaii,” said Pierre Omidyar, founder, Omidyar Fellows. “Hawaii’s next generation of leaders will inherit huge challenges – some of them recent developments, some passed down from their predecessors. Effective leaders must address existing challenges and at the same time, create proactive measures that move Hawaii forward – all while operating in an increasingly fast-paced and transparent world.”

More than 150 candidates completed a rigorous application process for the Omidyar Fellows inaugural class, representing a wide range of sectors including government, nonprofit, business, and labor unions. The class was designed to be representative of these sectors.

Given the strength of the applicant pool and the active support of sponsors and references involved in the application process, the Hawaii Leadership Forum will also be creating opportunities for others, beyond the Fellows, to participate in local leadership activities. Details on upcoming programs and events will be posted this fall at

Fellows were selected based on years of experience in both professional and community settings. The diversity of experiences in geography, culture and business sector will provide a rich mix of perspectives in the cohort setting. Candidates with 10-15 years of experience and a clear trajectory of increasing responsibilities toward leadership were more successful in the review and selection process. Final interviews by the selection panel occurred over the course of two days. The selection committee was comprised of the five board members of Hawaii Leadership Forum: Richard Gushman II, Michael Mohr, Pierre Omidyar, Jennifer Goto Sabas and Kelvin Taketa.

“We received an overwhelmingly positive response from interested applicants, their supporters, and the community at large,” said Kalei Stern, director of Omidyar Fellows. “The selection committee is thrilled with the caliber of this inaugural class – each and every Fellow is exceptionally talented, passionate about leading in Hawaii, and shows enormous potential for having an even greater impact in our community. We couldn’t be more optimistic about the contribution these emerging leaders will make in Hawaii.”

The 13 Fellows selected for this year’s Omidyar Fellows class include:

Robert Bruhl, Kailua
Robert Bruhl is the vice president for development at D.R. Horton – Schuler Division. He is responsible for all land acquisition, land management and stewardship, commercial operations, civil planning and permitting, and site construction for statewide operations. Bruhl previously worked at the Cypress Group, a private equity investment firm in New York. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting from Boston College and is currently on the board of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Pacific Historic Parks.

Jodi Endo Chai, Honolulu
Jodi Endo Chai is the senior advisor for the Hawaii Government Employees Association. She serves as the chief of staff with primary responsibility for the union’s organizational and strategic planning efforts, and oversees its communications and human resource programs. Chai was born and raised in Wahiawa and received a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis on public relations from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She is a board member of the Aloha United Way.

Colton Ching, Kaneohe
Colton Ching is the vice president of system operation and planning at Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. He oversees operation of O’ahu’s electric grid and is responsible for corporate and strategic planning for all three Hawaiian Electric utilities. In 2011, Ching served as co-incident commander for preparations and operations for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. Ching grew up on the island of Maui, graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and is a licensed professional engineer. He also serves as a director on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii.

Donalyn Dela Cruz, Honolulu
Donalyn Dela Cruz is the deputy director of communications for the State of Hawaii, Office of the Governor. She oversees communications and messaging for the administration, advises the governor, and manages all the duties and media responsibilities of a press secretary. Dela Cruz previously worked at Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, the Democratic Party of Hawaii, the office of U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka, and KHON TV2. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and is also an advisory board member for Aha Punana Leo, a non-profit organization dedicated to the perpetuation of the Hawaiian language.

Forest Frizzell, Kailua
Forest Frizzell is the deputy director of information technology for the City and County of Honolulu. Frizzell oversees technology support for more than 20 city agencies and recently championed a handful of first-time initiatives – CityCamp Honolulu to discuss advancement of technology in government, a phone app development contest, an online site to obtain camping permits – that resulted in Honolulu’s designation as the number one digital city in the country in 2011. Frizzell has a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and volunteers his time with the Boys and Girls Club of Hawaii and Parents and Children Together (PACT).

Jason Fujimoto, Hilo
Jason Fujimoto is the senior vice president and chief financial officer for HPM Building Supply, a 100 percent employee-owned company founded by his family in Hilo in 1921. Fujimoto oversees all corporate functions as well as several distribution branches and manufacturing entities on Hawaii Island and Kaua’i. Over the last several years he has helped expand the company’s operations statewide, including its most recent acquisition of Kauai Lumber, Inc. in 2011. Prior to returning home, Fujimoto worked at J.P. Morgan Securities and PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania and is currently on the board of PBS Hawaii.

Noelani Kalipi, Hilo
Noelani Kalipi is the president of the Ti Leaf Group, Inc., an advocacy firm focused on community-based economic development, clean tech, renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, and food, agricultural, and data security. Kalipi has local experience in serving native communities in Hawaii, and national experience having previously worked for Senator Daniel Akaka in Washington, D.C. She also served with the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps in Fort Stewart, Georgia. Kalipi has a bachelor’s degree in government politics and economics from George Mason University and a law degree from George Washington University National Law Center.

Kaiu Kimura, Hilo
Kaiu Kimura is the executive director at the Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaii. She manages and oversees all aspects of the astronomy center operations and facilities, including the planetarium, exhibit hall, gift shop, restaurant operations and educational outreach. Kimura has held previous positions at the Imiloa Astronomy Center, working first as the curriculum coordinator, then experience coordinator and associate director. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Hawaiian studies and a master’s degree in Hawaiian language and literature from the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Kimura is on the boards of Hawaii Island Workforce and Economic Development Ohana, ‘Aha Punana Leo and the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce.

Karen C. Lee, Honolulu
Karen C. Lee is an associate vice president at the University of Hawaii and the executive director of Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education. Together with the University of Hawaii president, Department of Education superintendent, and Early Learning Council chair, Lee provides leadership and direction to the Hawaii P-20 Council. Hawaii P-20′s programs include the Hawaii P-3 initiative which promotes partnerships in the early learning community, the Statewide Longitudinal Data System which will track student progress across agencies, and GEAR UP Hawaii and the Step Up Initiative, designed to increase student readiness for post-high school success. Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in higher education administration from Columbia University, and a doctorate in education from the University of Southern California.

Marissa Sandblom, Lihue
Marissa Sandblom is the vice president of Grove Farm Company, Inc. headquartered on Kaua’i. As one of the island’s largest private landowners, Grove Farm has transitioned itself from a sugar plantation to a sustainable community and economic development firm. Sandblom previously worked as the finance and business development officer at the Kaua’i Economic Development Board. She earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from Hawaii Pacific University. Sandblom is the director and chair of the Agribusiness Development Corporation, and serves on the board of the Kaua’i Visitor’s Bureau, PBS Hawaii and Kaua’i Planning and Action Alliance.

Jerrod Schreck, Kailua
Jerrod Schreck is the president of Hoku Solar and chief strategy officer of Hoku Corporation where he is charged with pursuing and developing strategic business opportunities. Under his leadership, Hoku Solar completed the first ever 1+megawatt photovoltaic farm on O’ahu and was selected as the design-build contractor for the largest solar energy facility in the state. Schreck also has previous experience at the Nature Conservancy and was an officer in the U.S. Navy. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a master’s degree in international affairs from the Institute for the Study of International Politics in Milan, Italy.

Kaiulani Sodaro, Kane’ohe
Kaiulani Sodaro is the director of enterprise planning and sustainability and interim director of the facilities development and support division at Kamehameha Schools. She oversees and manages the major repair and capital improvement portfolio for the educational and support space enterprise-wide. Prior to Kamehameha Schools, Sodaro worked at Maui Land and Pineapple, Inc. and Hilton Hotels Corporation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in hotel administration from Cornell University and a master’s degree in planning from the University of Southern California. Sodaro is a member of the American Planning Association Hawaii chapter, a member of the Renewable Energy Committee at Enterprise Honolulu and is the vice-chair of the City and County of Honolulu Planning Commission.

Joshua Wisch, Kailua
Joshua Wisch is the special assistant to the attorney general in the State of Hawaii, Department of the Attorney General. He serves as the chief legislative liaison and public information officer and is assigned to special projects including training, strategic planning and working on sensitive investigations. Prior to the attorney general’s office, Wisch was the district director for Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, an attorney at Chun, Kerr, Dodd, Beaman and Wong and previously Cades Schutte. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public policy and management at Carnegie Mellon University, and his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

Created by Bill Coy, director of leadership learning for the Hawaii Leadership Forum, the Omidyar Fellows curriculum develops competencies that will not only impact individual leadership, but leadership across current boundaries. The Fellowship is based on a learning model that integrates real leadership challenges with the best thinking in the field.

The curriculum and program elements were developed after two years of researching the best leadership development practices in Hawaii and the nation. Fellows will participate in a 15-month rigorous and comprehensive leadership development course, commencing with a two-day retreat in October. In addition, Fellows will convene in a monthly learning community, and be paired with an executive coach. Fellows also will create and participate in a learning excursion – a unique sabbatical experience based on the Fellow’s leadership context and goals – and a community project that will focus on defining possible solutions for critical issues facing Hawaii. The Fellows will also have exposure to leadership resources from the Harvard Business Review, TED lectures, HBR Ideacast and other web-based learning platforms. While the formal program is 15 months, the expectation is that the alumni network, as a community of leaders, will become a powerful force to transform Hawaii’s future.

“The Omidyar Fellows program and curriculum is designed to promote thinking and behavior that addresses the complexity of current leadership challenges,” said Coy. “The need for more effective leaders is widely felt around the world just as it is here in Hawaii. Now is the time to start exploring new models and tools that the next generation will need to be successful in dealing with massive challenges.”

For more information about the Omidyar Fellows and Hawaii Leadership Forum, please visit Omidyar Fellows is also on Facebook at and Twitter at

The first initiative of the Hawaii Leadership Forum, Omidyar Fellows is a rigorous leadership development program designed to equip emerging leaders from across the state with the skills they need to forge Hawaii’s future. Tapping the talent that already exists in Hawaii, the program aims to support young leaders with skills and relationships to help Hawaii prosper.

The Hawaii Leadership Forum is a newly created organization dedicated to advancing all levels of leadership in and for Hawaii. The Forum receives funding from the Omidyar ‘Ohana Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation.

Best known as the founder and chairman of eBay, Pierre is an active philanthropist guided by his belief that people are inherently capable and basically good. Pierre has committed more than $1 billion to create opportunities that help individuals improve their lives and ignite change across a variety of sectors and geographies. In 2011, Pierre and his wife Pam received the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in recognition of the lasting impact of their work and generosity. In 2009, Pierre and Pam made an historic $50 million commitment to the Hawaii Community Foundation to establish the Omidyar ‘Ohana Fund, which is being used to launch several community initiatives. Pierre is also the CEO and publisher of, a Honolulu-based news service dedicated to public affairs and investigative journalism. To learn more about Pierre’s efforts in Hawaii and around the world, please visit

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