Deidre Tegarden has rejoined Maui’s Nisei Veterans Memorial Center as executive director, a position she held from 2016 until 2018, when newly elected Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino selected her as his chief of staff. Tegarden will replace former state Sen. Jill Tokuda, who will now serve as NVMC’s director for external relations, leading the organization’s capital campaign and furthering partnerships throughout Hawai‘i and beyond.
“The NVMC board of directors is very pleased to have Deidre Tegarden at its helm again,” said Nisei Veterans Memorial Center board president Brian Moto. Many of the NVMC’s most successful programs, including its speaker series and the on-campus Nisei veterans mural by artist Kirk Kurokawa, were initiated by Tegarden during her first tenure.
Tegarden, who speaks Japanese fluently, previously served as chief of protocol for Govs. Neil Abercrombie and David Ige and was also the point person for the U.S.-Japan Council’s State Prefecture meetings in 2012. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Japanese and Chinese Studies from the University of Maryland. Tegarden also served as director of the Office of Economic Development under Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares and as executive director for Big Brothers Big Sisters Maui.
In a news release, Tegarden said she was sad to be leaving Victorino’s team, “but I am very excited to be returning to the Nisei Veterans. I continue to believe that these veterans can teach us many lessons on courage, loyalty and integrity — core values we need to encourage in our future generations.”
Many Maui Nisei fought heroically in World War II in Europe and the Pacific. The NVMC was established to document their stories and to offer their valor, values and sacrifice as lessons for others in the community.