Photo caption: Award recipients: L-R: Lyndell Lindsey, Mayor Harry Kim, Jackie Pualani Johnson and Senator Kai Kahele (on behalf of the late Senator Gilbert Kahele).
Expressions of happiness, joy and laughter was a common sight in the dining hall filled with attendees who came to celebrate UH Hilo’s 17th Annual Distinguished Alumni and Service Awards Banquet on Saturday February 25, 2017.
This year’s Distinguished Alumni honorees are UH Hilo’s Drama Professor of the Performing Arts department - Jackie Pualani Johnson; Director of E Maka‘ala School for 29 years and Director of the Haili Invitational Volleyball Tournament for over 30 years - Lyndell Lindsay; Mayor for the County of Hawai‘i – Harry Kim. The late Senator Gilbert Kahele was honored with the Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the university and local community.
Graduating from UH Hilo with a BA in elementary education in 1980, Lyndell Lindsey’s outstanding athletic skills helped UH Hilo’s volleyball team secure the national title in the late 1970s. Besides being the part owner and principal of E Maka‘ala School, an active member of the Haili Church, Lindsey is also one of the directors of the famous Haili Invitational Volleyball Tournament, which attracts teams from Hawai‘i, the Pacific Basin, Japan, US mainland and Canada.
Mayor Harry Kim
Harry Kim attended UH Hilo before transferring to and graduating from Southern Oregon University with a MS in economics. His impressive service as the director of Hawai‘i County’s Civil Defense for 16 years earned him many recognitions and his expertise was sought after by several US government agencies and foreign countries. Kim went on to serve as the mayor of Hawai‘i County for 2 terms from 2000‒2008. In 2016, Kim decided to make a come back to politics and successfully ran his campaign for the mayor’s post.
Jackie Pualani Johnson
An iconic figure in the world of performing arts for Hawai‘i Island, Jackie Johnson is no stranger to many. She attended UH Hilo before transferring to the University of Colorado at Boulder where she graduated with an MA in Theatre. Johnson was instrumental in the development of UH Hilo’s Performing Arts Department, where she has been serving as the chair shortly after its inception. For more than 30 years, she has been a mentor to numerous students and has directed and performed in countless plays and musicals in theatres throughout the state.
(The late) Senator Gilbert Kahele
The late Senator Gilbert Kahele attended Hilo High School and went on to obtain an associate degree in science from Laney College, CA in 1967. He was a democratic member of the Hawai‘i State Senate, representing District 1 from 2011 to 2016. A strong advocator of UH Hilo, Kahele worked tirelessly to secure understanding, support and funding from legislators for the College of Pharmacy program and student housing. In spite of his demanding schedule, Kahele always made an effort to attend UH Hilo’s commencements and groundbreaking events.
The awards banquet also included silent and live auctions. Proceeds will be used to help fund the Alumni Scholarship program and support the Alumni and Friends Association.