Updated: December 6, 2023
The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority announced the appointments of five new members to serve on its Board of Directors: Maui hotelier and government relations veteran Michael White, hospitality and community leader Kimberly Leimomi Agas, social entrepreneur Mahina Duarte, Kaua‘i community affairs specialist Stephanie Iona and Hawai‘i Island agriculturist James McCully.
Hawai’i Tourism Authority President and CEO John De Fries said: “This dynamic group of appointees complements HTA’s diverse board as we accelerate efforts toward a regenerative model of tourism centered around the needs of our community. Balancing the well-being of our people and place with meaningful economic, environmental and cultural benefits is essential to our state’s recovery.”
The Board of Directors is a policy-making entity comprised of members appointed by the Governor of Hawai‘i and confirmed by the Hawai‘i State Senate.
Board members serve as volunteers, guiding the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority’s work in holistically managing tourism and fulfilling its 2020-2025 Strategic Plan and interacting pillars – community, natural resources, Hawaiian culture and branding.
The new board members’ terms begin on July 1, 2022 and will end on June 30, 2026. They replace outgoing board members Micah Alameda, Fred Atkins, Daniel Chun, Kyoko Kimura and Kimi Yuen.
Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority chairman George Kam said the contributions of the outgoing members included the development of the Destination Management Action Plans for each island.
Here are the biographies of each new member:
Michael White: He is a business and community leader with five decades of hospitality industry experience on Maui and Hawai‘i Island; and now is the general manager of Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel and The Plantation Inn on Maui. He was influenced by Kenneth Brown, Winona Rubin and Gard Kealoha in developing Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel’s Po‘okela Program with Dr. George Kanahele. White also served as a Maui County Council member and chair representing Makawao, Ha‘ikū and Pā‘ia, and as a State Representative for West Maui, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i and Kaho‘olawe. He is a graduate of Punahou School, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s School of Travel Industry Management.
Kimberly Leimomi Agas: She is a hospitality management executive with more than 35 years of experience, now working as the general manager of Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, overseeing resort operations and community, stakeholder and owner partnerships. She previously served in leadership positions at Outrigger Resorts in Hawaiʻi and French Polynesia. Agas was educated at Kamehameha Schools, Hawai‘i Pacific University and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She also has served on the Bishop Museum Advisory Council Board and Honolulu Zoological Society Board, and continues to serve on the board of the Hawaiʻi Lodging and Tourism Association.
Mahina Paishon Duarte: She co-founded Waiwai Collective in 2016, a social enterprise that blends culture, community and commerce to achieve well-being and abundance outcomes for Hawai‘i and beyond. Previously, she served as Kanu o ka ‘Āina’s head of school for the secondary level and Hālau Kū Māna. Co-author of the ‘Āina Aloha Economic Futures declaration, Duarte has worked with various cultural and community organizations throughout Hawai‘i. She has earned a number of degrees from local universities to cultivate her unique skill set to serve Hawaiʻi through ancestral knowledge and life ways.
Stephanie Iona: She specializes in community and government affairs on Kaua‘i. She has five decades of experience serving Hawai‘i’s communities, primarily in the agriculture and hospitality industries. She currently provides community affairs services to Kaua‘i Shrimp and the Kekaha Agriculture Association. Previously, she was the community and government affairs manager for Dow Agrosciences. Iona has also served as the general manager of Waimea Plantation Cottages and Aston Papakea Resort.
James McCully: He has been self-employed in the agriculture industry as an orchid breeder at Mauna Kea Orchids on Hawai‘i Island since 1976. For more than 20 years, he has also specialized in real estate management, encompassing greenfield entitlements, subdivisions, land use actions, public and private infrastructure development, and conservation projects. McCully is a member of the American Orchid Society’s Hilo Chapter.
The new members will attend their first regular monthly board meeting today. For more information, visit www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/who-we-are/board-of-directors/.