Mayor Harry Kim
Harry Kim was educated at Southern Oregon State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science, Education & Sociology and a Master of Science and Economics degrees. He was a medic in the U.S. Army and later a public high school and also a college teacher. He began working for the County of Hawai‘i as the Law Enforcement Assistance Agency Director 1972-1976, Civil Defense Administrator 1976-2000, and a two-term Mayor from 2000-2008.
Harry served as an international advisor on natural disaster response systems for Indonesia, Thailand, Germany, Honduras; selected by National Academy of Sciences to review the volcanic hazards program of the U.S. Geological Survey; selected by UNESCO and UNDRO to be a contributor in the development of an emergency management handbook for volcanic events distributed by United Nations.
Mr. Okabe was appointed by Mayor Harry Kim and confirmed by the County Council as the Managing Director for the County of Hawai’i on December 21. Prior to his current role, Mr. Okabe served as Governor Ige’s representative for East Hawai’i. For almost three decades, Mr. Okabe served the State of Hawai’i through the Department of Education in various capacities. He was also the Hawaii State Teachers Association President and worked for the Department of Labor in the Job corps Program. Mr. Okabe received his Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Physical Education (K-12) from Willamette University in Salem Oregon and his Masters of Education/Professional Development from Heritage College in Toppenish, Washington. Mr. Okabe was a former High School football and track & field coach for various high schools in East Hawai’i. He is active in the community by serving on various boards such as the State Aquatic and Wildlife Commission, Dream Come True and several others.
Barbara Shim Kossow serves as the Deputy Managing Director.
Barbara was born and raised in North Kohala. She attended Kohala High School and Cannon’s Business College. Formerly a bank manager, she took an early retirement when she was first appointed by Mayor Kim in 2000. She recently celebrated 17 years with the mayor’s office.
Barbara strives to be actively involved in her community through leadership roles that benefit the community. She is a proud Rotarian and currently serves as the Rotary District 5000 Assistant District Governor for West Hawai’i. . She also serves on various boards such as the Kailua Village Business Improvement District, Kona Adult Day Center, Ahahui Ka’ahumanu, Kohala chapter, Ka Ulu Lauhala o Kona, Kailua-Kona Community Parade Association and several others. She has received numerous awards throughout her career. One such award, Soroptimist International’s Women of Distinction for her on going community work.
Barbara resides in Kailua-Kona with her husband Glenn and their mo’opuna live close by.
Rose Y. Bautista
Rose Y. Bautista, Executive Assistant to Mayor Kim, was born in the Philippines and raised in North Kohala, Hawai’i. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Mount St. Mary’s College - Los Angeles and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Puget Sound School of Law. Rose spent almost 20 years on the mainland where she practiced immigration law before returning home to the Big Island.
Most recently, Rose served as the Immigration Information Specialist for the County of Hawai’i when Mayor Kim appointed her in 2001. In that capacity, Rose assisted thousands of immigrants navigate through the complexities of immigration laws and procedures, provided support to immigrant victims of domestic violence, and initiated community outreach to the various districts around the island. Rose is active in many community organizations. In 2016, she received the Hawai’i Island YWCA’s “Remarkable People” award.
In her spare time, Rose enjoys travelling, being her husband’s roadie, and keeping up with her 2 college-age children.
Nancy moved to Hawai‘i in 1976. From 1992 until 2016 she lived on, and operated her 11-acre farm in Keauhou Mauka. She served on the Hawai‘i County Council, representing District 7, from 1998-2002, and later assisted in the community-based process that led to the drafting of the Kona Community Development Plan.
Nancy continues to be motivated by the goal of building partnerships between County government and the community.
Roy Takemoto serves as Executive Assistant to Mayor Kim. He served with Mayor Kim during the Mayor’s two terms in 2000-2008, first as Deputy Planning Director and then as Executive Assistant.
Roy worked as a private planning consultant prior to 2000 and after 2008. He has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and environmental studies, a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning, and a law degree from the University of Hawai‘i.
Roy was raised near Wahiawa on O‘ahu. In 1991, he quit his job working for a hotel developer, married a Hilo girl and moved to Hilo to be among his wife’s and mother’s families. He has a son who just graduated from college. Roy is a member of the Rotary Club of Hilo Bay, enjoys swimming, and is trying to learn tai chi.
Donna Urban-Higuchi is an Executive Assistant to Mayor Harry Kim.
Donna Urban-Higuchi was raised in Kona, Hawaii, attended Konawaena Elementary through High School, graduated from Cannon’s Business College and University of Hawaii at Hilo with a degree in Sociology. Donna’s passion is helping the underprivileged and marginalized communities, taught children with Learning Disabilities in Special Education, and fostered children in the State of Hawaii, volunteered in civic and church engagements for over thirty years. Donna is honored to work for the County of Hawaii under the leadership of Mayor Harry Kim.
Janet serves as Public Relations Specialist.
She is a former foreign correspondent in Japan, China and Hong Kong with Reuters news agency, the Associated Press, United Press International and NBC News.
Janet graduated from Barnard College (the women’s college of Columbia University) with a degree in Japanese, and has a Masters of Science from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
She served as Public Relations Specialist during Mayor Kim’s first two terms (2001-2008), and joined the Department of Water Supply in 2008.
Married for 30 years to a wonderful man and the “mother” of four Golden Retrievers.
Martha serves as the Private Secretary to Mayor Harry Kim. Prior to her current role, she was the Private Secretary to Managing Director Wil Okabe for eight months.
Martha has over 32 years of County government service including the Office of Housing and Community Development, Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and the Office of the Corporation Counsel.
She graduated from Hawai’i Community College with a degree in Secretarial Science. Martha attended St. Joseph’s School in Hilo for 13 years where she graduated in 1982.
She served as Private Secretary to the Corporation Counsel from 2000-2016. One of her major accomplishments at the Corporation Counsel’s Office includes implementing a paperless electronic workflow process of legal files using a document imaging software that was later implemented throughout the County of Hawai’i. She received the “Run Smarter” award from Laserfiche Corporate for her efforts on making the office efficient, saving time and money.
Martha and her husband Francis have been married for 18 years and live in Hilo. They enjoy collecting and driving classic cars.
Joelle Hew Len Lee
Joelle serves as the Private Secretary to Managing Director Wil Okabe. Prior to her current role, she was a Legal Clerk III with the Office of the Corporation Counsel.
Originally from California where she worked for the State of California with the Department of Social Services, Senior Care Licensing Program, Joelle enjoyed working with the elderly and eventually became an Administrator for a senior care home specializing for people with psychiatric disorders. In 2011 she had the opportunity to move to Hawaiʻi where she met her future husband Wayne.
Joelle is happily married and resides in Hilo. Their hobbies include attending comic cons, fishing and collecting classic cars.
Kaycie Saiki serves as an Administrative Services Assistant. She began employment with the department in July 2004. Prior to working for the county she was employed at Kaiko’o Travel for 12 years. Kaycie is proud to follow her ‘ohana in government and public service. Her grandfather Ronald “Harpo” Saiki retired from the Department of Public Works, her grandmother Dorothy “Dottie” Thompson retired from the Department of Parks & Recreation; her father Francis “Bo” Saiki retired from the Planning Department and her sister Cori Saiki currently works for the Elections Office.
Dennis Kauka, Jr.
Dennis Kauka, Jr. is an aide to the Executive Assistants. He has served the County since 2013 as a Legislative Assistant, Council Aide and Elections Clerk. Prior to the County, Dennis worked as a Member Services Representative at HFS Federal Credit Union for 8 years. Dennis graduated from Waiakea High School, attended Hawai‘i Community College and the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. He’s a member of the Panaewa Community Association and some day hopes to publish his first novel.
Amber Kepoo is one half of the Clerical Services Assistants in the Mayor’s office. She’s very grateful to be able to continue in the footsteps of the long list of family members who have worked in different departments within the City and County of Hawai‘i. She previously worked for Council Member Dennis “Fresh” Onishi and expanded her knowledge in the political and government field. She is happily married to her high-school sweetheart Sean Kepoo and enjoys time spent with their furry little friend named Precious.
Megan was born in Honolulu but raised on the Island of Hawai‘i. She spent many years researching Hawaiian history and photographing the Kona district and its people. Megan has worked front desk for the Mayor’s Kona office since 2007.