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Spring 2023 Update from Our CEO

Spring 2023 has been an exciting season for HIPHI.

Our HIPHI ‘ohana is growing with the addition of three new staff this quarter. Kealoha Madriaga joined our tobacco prevention and control team and healthy eating + active living teams, RoAnn Viloria also joined our HEAL team, and finally Rashall Orr joined our operations team. You can learn more about them here. HIPHI is still recruiting like-minded public health champions. Please view employment opportunities here.

We also bid a fond aloha to two long-time board members who rotated off at the end of 2022. Kilikina Mahi (Hawai‘i Foodbank) and Michael Robinson (Hawai‘i Pacific Health) have provided years of strategic guidance and great mentorship to me over the last seven years. I am truly grateful for their support and look forward to continuing to work with them in different capacities. Last month, we welcomed a new board member, Dr. Jennifer José Lo, medical director of Hawai‘i Health Partners (HHP), a subsidiary of Hawai‘i Pacific Health (HPH). Dr. Lo and her team work to improve healthcare quality, efficiency, enhance patient experience, and reduce the overall total cost of care by providing guidance to HHP clinicians, overseeing clinical ancillary programs, and supporting other HPH initiatives. You can learn more about Dr. Lo and HIPHI’s board on our 2023 HIPHI board website.

With legislative session in full swing, our policy team has been busy tracking hundreds of bills. This year’s session has been both a time for celebration and disappointment. In regard to our tobacco efforts, HB 551, which would end the sale of flavored tobacco, and HB 537, a taxation bill, were not heard by the Senate Committees. SB 1447 renders hope for the reversal of the state preemption law, which would return local power to the counties. HB 1248 will provide funding to sustain and expand the DA BUX program (Hawai‘i healthy food incentive program for supplemental nutrition assistance program participants) is continuing to move through the legislature. We applaud the passage of Act 2 (SB 1), which decriminalizes abortions and protects women’s reproductive healthcare. We thank all the advocates and partners who have continued to support public health policies. You can stay up-to-date on public health bills through our 2023 HIPHI Bill Tracker.

Looking ahead, we are thrilled to bring back our Summer Social event in late June. This event will be extra special, as HIPHI will be celebrating its 10th anniversary as a public health institute. We hope you will join us for this joyful occasion as we commemorate this milestone, launch our annual legislative recap, recognize some of our partners, and offer opportunities to become involved. 

Next week is National Public Health Week (April 3-9). This year’s theme is “Centering and celebrating cultures in health” – stay tuned for more details on how you can celebrate public health in your community. 

I hope your year is off to a good start and thank you for your continued support and commitment to public health.

With Aloha,

Jessica Yamauchi
Jessica Yamauchi
Chief Executive Officer

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