Gov. David Ige has appointed Merton Chinen (no relation to editor Karleen Chinen) to lead the Office of Youth Services. OYS is administratively
attached to the Department of Human Services, where Chinen has worked for more than 25 years in various capacities. He served in the Child Welfare Services Branch for 13 years as an assistant program administrator and a social worker for foster care youth and adoptions before moving to OYS. He spent 16 years at OYS as a youth specialist, program development officer and, most recently, as acting executive director of OYS.
“Merton brings decades of invaluable experience to his position as executive director of OYS. He understands what it takes to move our youth forward in their lives and guide them as they become contributing members of our community,” Gov. Ige said in appointing Chinen.
Chinen’s professional experience is bolstered by his work in the community. He has worked with Boy Scouts Troop 164 of the Aloha Council, Central O‘ahu Youth Baseball League and Hospice of Tacoma. Additionally, he continues to be involved with the Hawai‘i Forgiveness Project and the Hawai‘i Center for Attitudinal Healing.
“I appreciate and am humbled by the governor’s confidence and support,” Chinen said. “I look forward to leading our team and continuing to integrate holistic approaches to heal and build resilience in Hawai‘i’s youth and families.”
Chinen earned his bachelor’s degree in social work from Pacific Lutheran University and his master in social work from the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa. His appointment is not subject to state Senate confirmation.