On July 1, 2020, Brandon Kurisu (Mānoa, BBA ’99) began his term as president of the University of Hawai‘i Alumni Association (UHAA). A proud UH alum, Kurisu is the president of aio Digital, a family of digital companies, brands, ventures and investments. He also serves on a number of Hawai‘i boards including the American Heart Association, the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council and Hawaii Literacy.
We asked Brandon a few questions about his time at UH, his role as president of UHAA and what he envisions for the future.
What’s one of your fondest memories of your time at UH?
My fondest memories revolve around the friends I made there, all of which I am still very close with. Our apartment in Noelani was a gathering place for a lot of get-togethers and pre-game activities. As we get older, our wives tell us that every time we get together, we always end up telling and laughing about the same stories - reminiscing about the good ‘ol days at UH…
How has your UH education helped you in your career?
By my junior year, I sort of narrowed it down to I want to go into “business” but still wasn’t sure what discipline. I decided to take a database class and was really fascinated with not only the technical portion, but also the whole consulting aspect of developing a system to make processes and workflows more efficient through the use of technology. I still apply a lot of the basics I learned back then to the work we do now.
What initially inspired you to get involved with the alumni association?
It was something I wanted to do to be able to give back and find ways to help and support the University. I am proud to be a UH graduate and want to help in any way I can.
What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your involvement with the alumni association?
I’ve been a Board member for six years and by far the most rewarding thing we’ve done as an association was being able to provide financial support to the Urgent Student Relief Fund, assisting UH students who experienced unexpected financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a tough go for a lot of these students so hopefully we were able to soften the blow a little.
In your opinion, why is it important for UH alums to stay connected to the university after graduation? What value is there in participating in alumni activities?
It’s important for alumni to stay connected and continue to support the university. Participating in various alumni activities provides opportunities to interact and network with other alumni, university administration and leadership. I know these activities will need to evolve with the “new normal”, but hopefully we can still find ways to interact and network.
As president, what are some of your priorities for the next year?
One thing we want to do is to really start mobilizing alumni to address needs and issues not only at the university, but also in the broader Hawai‘i community. Our Board is comprised of business leaders from prominent Hawai‘i companies that can make things happen. Hawai‘i is our home, and as UH alumni, we have a responsibility to support our university and help our community.
We have also been working a lot closer with the UH Foundation Alumni Relations team and aligning our efforts to maximize alumni outreach, engagement and support. They are helping us get connected with university leadership system-wide to identify areas of need and opportunities for UHAA to mobilize its resources to help.