Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association hires new executive director with stellar resume
The Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association’s Board of Directors recently approved hiring Ann Mahi, a veteran Hawaiʻi teacher, administrator, union and student advocate, as its executive director.
She plans to begin the job on Aug. 1, replacing Wilbert Holck who is retiring after more than 31 years at the Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association (HSTA).
Mahi will oversee a staff of 44 employees on four islands and the union’s annual $12 million operating budget.
“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Ann Mahi for many years and she’s always been a passionate and tireless advocate for the keiki of Hawaiʻi and will serve HSTA well with her extensive knowledge of the inner workings of the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education,” said HSTA President Osa Tui Jr.
Mahi started her career as a 9th-grade guidance teacher at Waiʻanae High in 1976, and also taught social studies and other subjects at Aiea High, Radford High and Kahuku High. After 15 years as a classroom teacher, Mahi moved into school administration in 1991 as vice principal at Heʻeia Elementary School.
She served three years as principal at Kailua Elementary, seven years as state educational director at the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support, and four years as principal at Roosevelt High. She also spent a year as complex area superintendent for the Kaimuki-McKinley-Roosevelt Complex Area. She retired from the Hawaiʻi Department of Education (HIDOE) in 2020 after eight years as complex area superintendent for the Nanakuli-Waianae Complex Area and 42 years in the public school system.
“I understand how to navigate through a lot of those different issues that come up from personnel to facilities to budget and academic issues that impact our teachers and their ability to provide excellent learning opportunities for our haumana,” Mahi said.
Mahi also has decades of experience as a union leader. From 1991 to 2009, Mahi was an elected leader of the Hawaiʻi Government Employees Association’s Unit 6, which represents principals, vice principals, athletic directors and other HIDOE administrators. She served as a board director before becoming the first woman to be elected president of Unit 6 Board of Directors since its inception in 1971 and also served as the vice president of the state HGEA Board of Directors.
Mahi said her broad experiences bring to HSTA “an understanding and knowledge of both the educational system, the union, as well as being a teacher in the field and being able to bring those things forward in support of what needs to happen for teachers for them to do their jobs well, in a classroom and in schools.”
In recent years, Mahi worked at the state legislature and served on various community boards. Following her retirement from HIDOE in the summer of 2020, she worked as a legislative assistant and session staffer in 2021 for state Sen. Michelle Kidani, chair of the Senate Education Committee and in 2022 for state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee to advise them on various education-related programs and spending, from operating budgets to construction projects.
For the past 12 years, Mahi served as a volunteer board member at the Atherton YMCA. After retirement, she became a board member for Hookakoo Corporation, a nonprofit that oversees three public conversion charter schools on Oʻahu, Molokaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island. Since 2020, she has also served on the boards of Mental Health of America Hawaiʻi and Teach for America Hawaiʻi.
“HSTA provides me a wonderful opportunity to be able to work with those who are right there on the front lines and to be able to support them with what they need in order to do the work that will impact the lives of the next generation and the future of Hawaii,” Mahi said.