Let me introduce myself…
I’m Melanie Michiko Okazaki, fourth-generation Japanese American, born in Los Angeles but brought up in Hawaii. I went to Des Moines, IA for college (Drake University!) and returned to Hawaii after graduation. I began my career at McDonald’s of Hawaii – and I’m still there after 30+ years. My passions are Brazilian jazz, wine, and golf. I’ve been a member of the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce since 2008 and this year, I’m honored to serve as the Chair of the Board of Directors.
As you may be aware, our organization has embarked on a rigorous four-year strategic plan to assure the future health of the HJCC. Thanks to Immediate Past Chair Brian Nishida, we have set our sights on building our membership base, furthering our financial strength and providing our members with relevant, meaningful experiences through our programs and events.
It is my intent to stay the course on this strategic plan and continue to create opportunities for our members, our organization and our communities. And we’ll do this by bringing to life our three pillars: Fostering Friendships, Connecting Business to Business and Mālama ka ‘āina – taking care of our island home.
We ushered in our new fiscal year with a stellar Inauguration and Generational Awards Celebration, spearheaded by Myles Shibata. He and his team put on a wonderful, inspiring event that featured keynote speaker Catherine Ngo, President and CEO of Central Pacific Bank and also celebrated the achievements of our Generational Awardee, the Nakamoto family of Beretania Florist.
We have a variety of events and networking opportunities that are available to you as a member of the HJCC. One event that is currently running is the 40th Annual “Commitment to Excellence” Art Exhibition at the Honolulu Museum of Art School. It is free and open to the public through Thursday, August 16. Also mark your calendar for the ever-popular Chopsticks & Wine event on Thursday, October 11 – reserved tables and tickets are available August 16th!
I encourage you to join us as we open the chapter to our 118th year of service, as we “Celebrate the Past and Honor the Future.”
With warm regards,
Chair of the Board
Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce – 2018-2019
Regional Marketing Manager
McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawaii
I am humbled and honored to have had the opportunity to lead this storied and venerable organization during its first full year of implementing the four-year Strategic Plan. I want to thank the dozens and dozens of members who have worked tirelessly and sacrificed much in contributing to make this a better organization, in such a short amount of time.
Early on we used the metaphor of a spinning flywheel to characterize the ‘building for the future’ spirit that the Strategic Plan envisioned. This spirit is anchored in the belief that creating opportunities for members to participate, contribute and engage are essential to the relevance and sustainability of the Chamber. It is captured in our motto, Creating opportunities since 1900.
The resulting energy and excitement as expressed by so many Members; in our committee work, events, projects and overall fellowship; illustrates that the flywheel is spinning faster and faster, and that forward-moving momentum is building. Here are a few key examples of the enhancements which we as an organization have accomplished, together:
A. Strengthening our enterprise fundamentals, which included the:
o Realization of a rolling 3-year succession plan for the Chairperson role
o Establishment of a rolling Five-Year Financial Forecast reflecting various Strategic Plan initiatives
o Re-alignment of positions & expectations for our critically important Staff
B. Enhancing value for Members with greater relevance and sense of purpose:
o Bringing to life the three aspirational brand pillars:
Fostering Friendships, the bedrock of our organization
Connecting Business-2-Business, an beneficial outcome that many of us have experienced coming from those friendships
Mālama ka ‘āina, which reminds us of the responsibility to take care of this place where we call home, Hawaii; by incorporating the triple-bottom line in what we do
o Activating a new & improved relationship with Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce; evidenced by our three, joint networking events with hundred-plus attendees each
o Creating fresh content & focus thru the establishment of the Communications, the Database Stewardship (Management), the Prominent & Distinguished Members, and the Managing for Climate Change committees
C. Building the membership population with an energized, heightened & creative focus:
o Attaining a membership retention rate well above the Budget, pushing 90%
o Exceeding the New Member headcount & dues revenue targets for the year
Creating opportunities since 1900; symbolizes the mission created by the 37 merchants who founded this organization, and the legacy of all who followed that have made it successful. Similarly, as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first organized arrival of Japanese to Hawaii, the Gannenmono, it seems appropriate to aspire and inspire toward collectively building a brighter future.
I want to close by thanking you, the Members, for your active support and for an exciting year. I ask that you also strongly support Chair Melanie Okazaki and her unifying theme of Celebrate the Past and Honor the Future; as she leads the growing enthusiasm of member engagement, to create opportunities and make a difference in our community.
Immediate Past Chair
Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce – 2017–2018
President & CEO
Step Stone Business Development