COMMUNITY LEADER KITTY YANNONE PASSES AWAY
Catherine “Kitty” Yannone, a veteran Hawai‘i communicator, entrepreneur and community leader, passed away peacefully in the early morning hours on Friday, June 2, surrounded by her family. She was 69 years old.
“She wore many hats – Mom, Tutu, daughter, sister, friend, mentor, colleague, advisor and more – and she wore each with fierce love, loyalty, dedication and deep gratitude. She taught us to live life fully, laugh often and love deeply. We will miss her more than words can describe,” said her son, Chad Dudley.
Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in fall 2020, she underwent treatment at Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu for months before eventually going to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for clinical trials. She entered hospice two weeks ago.
Yannone was the owner and chief executive officer of CommPac, LLC, also known as Communications-Pacific, a Hawai‘i public relations firm that she purchased in 1998 after first joining the firm in 1986. During the 25 years that she owned the company, she assembled a team of Hawai‘i’s top public relations and marketing professionals who provided strategic communications counsel in media relations, crisis communications, issues management, community building and consumer marketing. Her list of clients included some of the leading companies and organizations in the islands, including her first client, the late Dr. Richard R. Kelley, Outrigger Enterprises, McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawaii, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Alexander & Baldwin, First Insurance Company of Hawaii, Safeway, Oahu Publications, The Shidler Group, Liberty House, Macy’s, Meadow Gold, Hawaiian Electric Company, The Queen’s Health System, Bank of Hawaii, American Savings Bank, Central Pacific Bank, Hawaiian Humane Society and countless others. Last month, Yannone made the difficult decision to close CommPac.
Before joining CommPac, Yannone was a founding board member and the first executive director of Hawai‘i’s Ronald McDonald House. She also served as vice president of the Kapi‘olani Health Foundation. She has served on the boards of Assets School, the American Red Cross-Hawai‘i Chapter, Bishop Museum, Hawai‘i Symphony Orchestra, and Diamond Head Theatre. She is a past president of the Rotary Club of Honolulu. She also served six years on the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents, including two years as vice chair and two years as chair. She also did some stand-up comedy under the tutelage of Rap Reiplinger.
Over the years, she received numerous awards and accolades for her business acumen and her commitment to serving the community. She was selected as the first “Businesswoman of the Year” by Pacific Business News, which also named her a “Women Who Mean Business Career Achievement” honoree. Other recognitions include: YWCA of O‘ahu Women Leaders; Business Hall of Fame Award by the Junior Achievement of Hawai‘i; the Franklin Delano Roosevelt National Award for Distinguished Community Service by the Hawai‘i Chapter of the March of Dimes; the Community Building Award by the Pacific Gateway Center; Chairman’s Cup by the American Red Cross-Hawai‘i Chapter; and University of Hawai‘i distinguished alumna. The Mediation Center of the Pacific awarded her their Collaborative Leadership Award for her collaboration and problem-solving skills to strengthen Hawai‘i’s communities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented her with their National Business and Labor Awards for Leadership on HIV/AIDS, recognizing her for excellence in HIV/AIDS workplace programs. She also received numerous awards for her work from the Hawai‘i chapters of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).
Yannone grew up in California and moved to Hawai‘i in 1976 to attend the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature.
Yannone is survived by her mother Lorraine Yannone; sons Chad Dudley and Kalin Dudley (Melanie); five grandchildren; brothers Steven Yannone and Alex Yannone; and sister Judy Ferguson.
The family has requested privacy to grieve at this difficult time. Details regarding a memorial service will be shared in the coming weeks.
HMSA AWARDS SCHOLARSHIPS TO COLLEGE-BOUND STUDENTS
The Hawaii Medical Service Association held its 18th Annual Kaimana Awards & Scholarship Program awards ceremony at the Hawaii Convention Center on Saturday, June 10. HMSA recognized nine local high schools and 15 outstanding Hawai‘i high school seniors pursuing higher education for their achievements and excellence in academics, athletics, community service, healthy activities and sportsmanship.
“This is my favorite event of the year at HMSA,” said HMSA president and chief executive officer Mark M. Mugiishi, M.D., F.A.C.S. “It’s our honor to recognize these amazing standout students and future leaders of Hawai‘i for their many accomplishments.”
HMSA works together with employers, partners, and physicians and other health care providers, to promote well-being; develop reliable, affordable health plans; and support members. HMSA is an experienced health plan in the state and covers more than half of Hawai‘i’s population. As a recognized leader, HMSA embraces the responsibility to strengthen the health and well-being of Hawai‘i’s community. Headquartered on O‘ahu with centers and offices statewide to serve our members. HMSA is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
HMSA has sponsored the Kaimana Awards & Scholarship Program in partnership with the Hawaii High School Athletic Association since 2005.
At the awards ceremony, 15 students across the state received scholarships worth $5,000 each. Nine high schools were recognized for achieving the highest program scores in their league (classified by enrollment) in academics, athletics, community service, healthy activities and sportsmanship. The nine highest-scoring schools received $1,500 each.
To be eligible for a scholarship, student recipients had to graduate from a Hawai‘i high school in 2023 with a 2.75 or higher GPA, participate in at least one HHSAA league-sanctioned sport and demonstrate involvement in community service throughout their high school career. Recipients can use their scholarships to pay for tuition, books, computers, and room and board.
Dr. Mugiishi presented the awards during the luncheon. He was joined by Hawaii News Now anchor Steve Uyehara and Hawaii Pacific Health director of communications Liz Chun.
The scholarship selection committee included the following local business leaders: Katie Chang, executive director, Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders; Jenn Diesman, senior vice president of government policy and advocacy, HMSA; Debbie Nakanelua-Richards, director, government and community relations, Hawaiian Airlines; Dave Reardon, sports columnist,Honolulu Star-Advertiser; and Steve Uyehara, anchor, Hawaii News Now.
2023 HMSA Kaimana Awards & Scholarship Program: Winning Schools
Kauai Interscholastic Federation
• Kapa‘a High School
Big Island Interscholastic Federation
• Small School (fewer than 500 students): Parker School
• Large School (500 students or more): Kea‘au High School
Maui Interscholastic League
• Small School (fewer than 350 students): Maui Preparatory Academy
• Large School (350 students or more): Kamehameha Schools Maui
Interscholastic League of Honolulu
• Small School (fewer than 400 students): University Laboratory School
• Large School (400 students or more): Saint Louis School
Oahu Interscholastic Association
• Small School (fewer than 1,300 students): Kahuku High & Intermediate School
• Large School (1,300 students or more): Moanalua High School
2023 HMSA Kaimana Awards & Scholarship Program: Winning Students
Kauai Interscholastic Federation
• Emma Burgess, Kaua‘i High School
• Hope Newton, Waimea High School
Big Island Interscholastic Federation
• Tayler Guerrero, Honoka‘a High & Intermediate School
• Rebecca Tang, Parker School
Maui Interscholastic League
• Kristen Otsubo, Baldwin High School
• Gabriella Pinheiro, Kamehameha Schools Maui
Interscholastic League of Honolulu
• Landon Choy, Kamehameha Schools Kapalama
• Kaimana Kau, Kamehameha Schools Kapalama
• Chancen Law, Kamehameha Schools Kapalama
• Jasmine Lianalyn Rocha, Maryknoll School
Oahu Interscholastic Association
• David Kalili, Nānākuli High & Intermediate School
• Andrew Lee, Kalani High School
• Erin Nakamura, Roosevelt High School
• Aimee Vierra, Kaiser High School
• Maverick Yasuda, Waipahu High School
To learn more about the HMSA Kaimana Awards & Scholarship Program, visit hmsa.com/kaimana.
KAUA‘I-BORN FILMMAKER WINS FIVE EMMY® AWARDS
Kaua‘i-born filmmaker Sam Potter, 27, won five Emmy® Awards for his docuseries, “Back to the Wild,” sweeping all five categories he was nominated, including Human Interest-News or Long Form Content (as Executive Producer); Director; Talent-Program Host; Cinematographer; and Editor-Content. Cory Martin (field producer, director of photography); Roberta Parks Valletta (creative producer) and Drew Longest (post production producer, editor) also shared in the show’s Emmy®-Award wins.
The 52nd Annual Northern California Area Emmy® Awards presentation took place on Saturday, June 3 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. The Emmy® Awards are presented for outstanding achievement in television by The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The San Francisco/Northern California area is one of 19 chapters to award regional Emmy® statues and include media companies and individuals from Visalia to the Oregon border and includes Hawai‘i and Reno, Nevada. Nominations included entries that were aired during the 2022 calendar year.
Potter’s “Back to the Wild” explores diverse landscapes, cultures and communities worldwide, highlighting individuals who have dedicated their lives to re-wilding the world. The Emmy®-winning episode, “The Coral Gardeners,” chronicles the remarkable story of Titouan Bernicot and a passionate group of young people fighting to save the coral reefs on the island of Mo‘orea. The emotionally charged episode combines thrilling adventure with heartwarming moments.
Potter took the stage at the Emmy® Awards ceremony and declared, “We were nominated for five Emmys this year, and we’re bringing all five back home to Kaua‘i!”
Potter dedicated his awards to Bernicot, founder and CEO of The Coral Gardeners, and everyone in The Coral Gardeners organization, recognizing their inspiring efforts in combating the rapid deterioration of coral reefs. The Coral Gardeners’ mission is to revolutionize ocean conservation and create a global movement to save the world’s coral reef through active reef restoration, awareness activities and innovative solutions, developed by their CG labs. The Coral Gardeners have planted 30,980 corals to date. Through its website, people from around the world can “adopt” a coral species, name their coral, track its progress and once the coral is mature, The Coral Gardeners will out plant the matured coral onto the natural reef to bring back life and biodiversity to the ocean.
Sam Potter is also known as Captain Potter (@captianpotter) on social media. Growing up on Kaua‘i, Potter was instilled with a deep respect for the land, sea and Hawaiian culture. As a Gen Z’er and social media native, his commitment to environmental activism has taken him around the globe, directing films that shed light on indigenous knowledge and the ongoing struggle to preserve traditional ways of life in a rapidly changing world.
With each expedition, Potter’s passion for ancient wisdom and reciprocity with the natural world grows stronger. Through his future endeavors, he aims to foster understanding and cooperation by sharing stories that inspire connections among people and with our planet.
For more information about Potter and “Back to the Wild,” follow him on Instagram @captainporter. “The Coral Gardners” episode can be viewed on Potter’s YouTube channel: youtube.com/@CaptainPotter.
For more information about The Coral Gardeners organization and/or to adopt a coral, follow them on Instagram: @coralgardeners or visit their website coralgardeners.org.
WORDSWORTH THE POET IS BACK!
Twenty years ago, author Frances Kakugawa introduced readers to Wordsworth, a poetically inclined mouse who was the central figure in her 2003 children’s book, “Wordsworth the Poet.” Endearing and precocious, the lovable Wordsworth won the hearts of readers, and his creator Kakugawa won the 2004 Ka Palapala Book Award for Excellence in Children’s Books from the Hawaii Book Publishers’ Association.
In succeeding years, Kakugawa kept the Wordsworth storyline alive in a series of related books “Wordsworth Dances the Waltz” in 2007, “Wordsworth! Stop the Bulldozer!” in 2012, “Wordsworth, It’s In Your Pocket” in 2015, and just out this year, 2023, “Wordsworth the Haiku Teacher.”
Each book in the series starts with the words “Poor Wordsworth,” indicating a dilemma that the poet-mouse would have to address and resolve in the following pages of the book. In the first book, everyone either made fun or worried about Wordsworth because he behaved differently from other mice. In the second book, Wordsworth’s grandma is showing signs of memory loss and Wordsworth connects to her by entering her world through music and dance. In the third book, Wordsworth has to deal with the loss of his good friend Emily, who moved to far-away Maine, as well as the loss of a grove of beautiful koa trees that meant so much to him. The fourth book addresses the negative impact that video games and gadgets have on interpersonal, face-to-face communication and in-person relationships.
In Kakugawa’s most recent Wordsworth book, Wordsworth struggles with his teacher’s request that he teach his fellow students how to write poems using the traditional haiku format – five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line, as well as some other guidelines. Wordsworth is unsure of his teaching abilities, so he writes to author and friend Frances Kakugawa in California for advice.
“Dear Frances,” Wordsworth writes to Kakugawa in a letter. “My teacher asked me to teach haiku writing to the class. I write haiku poems now and then, but me teach? I don’t know how. Can you teach me how to teach? Or can you come and teach our class?” He ends the letter with: “Your friend, Wordsworth.”
On one level, the Wordsworth series of books contain cute stories and dialogue, enhanced by beautiful illustrations by different artists (Scott Goto for the first and fifth books, Melissa DeSica for the second book, and Andrew J. Catanzariti for the second and fourth books). They can be enjoyed by both children and adults at the cute story and illustrations level and still have a positive impact on young readers.
But on another level, these books go much deeper. They explore profoundly life-affecting themes such as friendship, loss, kindness, loneliness, sadness, change, growing up, coping, caring and more. They teach children through interesting stories, not preaching, about the importance of using creativity as a form of healthy expression, especially writing, and in particular poetry. Most of the names of Wordsworth’s friends are named after famous poets (as is Wordsworth himself). In a clever way, Kakugawa gently implores readers to value the power and beauty of the literary arts and genuine human relationships. Technology cannot replace “the feel of ocean spray on our faces” or a hug or the “music” of the human voice when spoken directly, not through a device.
In the fifth book, “Wordsworth the Haiku Teacher,” Wordsworth turns to his longtime friend and creator (Kakugawa) for help as any student should do with a good and trusted teacher. He is insecure about being a haiku teacher and asks Kakugawa, who lives across the Pacific Ocean, whether she can come to teach the class.
She replies via letter: “Dear Wordsworth, You can do this! Gather your three good friends and I will help you. I’ll be your ‘haiku whisperer’ and help you teach others to write haiku. Aloha, Frances.”
Kakugawa, who has been a teacher, writer, poet, caregiver, friend and supporter to people of all ages for so many decades in her long life, seems ready to pass the baton to Wordsworth, who represents the future generation. A good teacher does not have to be physically present to be of assistance. Their lessons and wisdom remain with students forever, like a spirit guide, long after they are no longer a physical presence in their students’ lives. Such is the message she seems to be conveying to her longtime pupil, Wordsworth the Poet.
The book is filled with delightful examples of haiku poems, but one struck this reviewer as particularly moving:
Footprints in warm sand
Lead slowly into the sea.
Soon, smooth untouched sand.
It’s a poem that Wordsworth the Poet, now the teacher, wrote, which in effect means that it is a poem that Kakugawa herself wrote. The images are concrete and very visual. There is motion, flow and an appeal to the senses. But there is also symbolism. The sea is often used as a symbol for the end of a journey, as when the rivers on land eventually find their outlet in the ocean. Eternity. The footprints disappear presumably from being washed over from the ocean tide. One’s physical presence is impermanent, temporary.
The 18th century poet William Wordsworth described poetry as “emotion recollected in tranquility.” William Wordsworth is long gone – physically speaking – but his words and the emotions they embody or inspire remain with us to this day and for all eternity. The same can be said about Wordsworth the mouse-poet and his creator, Frances Kakugawa. And someday, we can imagine that Wordsworth the Poet’s friends and students will leave their own legacy to the world, one inspired by those who came before them. The cycle continues through literature and teaching.
Frances Kakugawa signed books on Saturday, June 24, 2 p.m., in Hilo at Basically Books and on Saturday, July 8, she’ll be at Barnes & Noble at Ala Moana Shopping Center at 2 p.m. She plans to explain how she wrote all five of the Wordsworth books. Her website address is franceskakugawa.wordpress.com.
-By Kevin Y. Kawamoto