HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle has appointed Kaulana Park to serve as the new director of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) and chairman of the Hawaiian Homes Commission. Park, the department’s deputy director since February 2008, succeeds Micah Kāne, who will become a Trustee for Kamehameha Schools. The transition will take effect on Aug. 12.
“Kaulana is an outstanding leader who is able to bring people together to focus on our common goal of improving the quality of life for Hawai‘i’s residents, fulfilling our commitment to native Hawaiians and uplifting the entire community,” said Governor Lingle. “Kaulana’s transition into the director’s role will be seamless as he continues to build on the significant progress the DHHL team has made under Micah’s leadership over the past six-and-a-half years.
“It is an honor for me to be in this position,” said Park. “We have done a lot of great things since I have been here and we will continue our efforts to be an asset to native Hawaiians and the state.”
In addition to serving as the deputy director, Park, who has been with the department since 2003, previously was executive assistant to the chairman of DHHL. As a lead strategist for DHHL he provided direct oversight on special projects ranging from program development to critical projects and issues relating to fulfilling the department’s mission to put Native Hawaiians on the land and into homes. His focus was primarily on operations efficiency, administration workflow, and leadership development.
In July 2006, Governor Lingle appointed Park to lead the Administration’s efforts to coordinate solutions to the state’s homelessness. Under Park’s leadership – working in collaboration with state agencies, the private sector, faith-based community, homeless advocates, non-profit organizations, military, counties, the homeless and other groups – significant progress was made in addressing the homeless crisis statewide. Park oversaw and helped lay the foundation for the development of three emergency homeless shelters and two transitional shelters along O‘ahu’s Leeward Coast. He also worked with Kaua‘i County to open Kaua‘i’s first two emergency and transitional shelters.
Park previously served as manager of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund, which included planning and developing to encourage small business development. He has also been a manager with Bank of America, assistant branch manager with First Hawaiian Bank, and business banking officer for Wells Fargo Bank.
Park serves on the Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority Board and serves at New Hope Hawaii Kai Christian Fellowship. He is the past president of the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, former board member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission of Hawai‘i, former Board member of Lokahi Pacific Rural Development, Inc., and former 2nd vice chairman of the Hotel Travel Federal Credit Union. He also participated in the Pacific Century Fellows program. He is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and Stanford University.
The Governor also praised outgoing Director Kne for his service to the people of Hawai‘i.
“I wish to thank Micah for his tremendous public service. Through his vision and his compassion for native Hawaiians and all the people of Hawai‘i, he has transformed DHHL from an organization that builds houses into one that builds communities,” the Governor said. “While I am sad to see Micah step down, I recognize the unique opportunity he has to give back to the Princess Pauahi Trust, something I know Micah feels very strongly about.”
Kāne was appointed director by Governor Lingle in December 2002, and then reappointed in 2006 following the Governor’s reelection. On July 17, 2009 Probate Judge Colleen Hirai appointed Kāne to succeed Admiral Robert Kihune as Trustee of the Kamehameha Schools. Kāne will officially begin on September 1.
“It has been an honor to serve the beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homes Trust and the people of Hawai‘i,” said Kāne. “I’ve given my heart and soul to this Trust. I’ve learned a tremendous amount and have been able to work with some great people at DHHL. They’ve become like family to me. I will really miss them,” added Kāne.
During Kāne’s tenure DHHL grew to be the largest affordable housing developer in the State of Hawai‘i. Kāne lead DHHL to move its operations out of downtown Honolulu, to Kapolei where DHHL has its largest homestead community.
Over the past six-and-a-half years DHHL has eliminated its need to receive taxpayer money for the operations of DHHL by accelerating income generating opportunities from commercial leases.
In addition to the many housing and commercial developments it brought about, in 2004 DHHL started the Home Ownership Assistance Program (HOAP) which provides financial literacy services, job training and placement, and addiction treatment services to more than 2,400 beneficiaries.