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Chair’s Message

Inauguration, Membership Recognition & Generational Award Celebration Speech

Aloha distinguished guests, cherished family and friends, and esteemed members of this outstanding organization,

Tonight, I am both humbled and excited as I stand here, to lead this chamber as your board chair.

The theme of my term is “Preserving our Legacy, Embracing the Future”

While we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of progress and innovation, it’s imperative that we reflect on our roots and build a bridge that connects our extraordinary past with the limitless possibilities that lie ahead.

Our organization has a rich 123 year history— one built on the tireless efforts, vision, and achievements of those who came before us. We owe it to them and to ourselves to honor that legacy, for it serves as a guiding light, reminding us of the values, principles, and milestones that have defined our journey.

Kristi Inkinen Yanagihara Speech

Kristi Inkinen Yanagihara (Chair of the Board FY2023-2024)

Kristi Inkinen Yanagihara being sworn in as Chair

I’m honored to stand before you as the seventh woman Chair of the Board of the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce. Each of these previous female leaders have laid the work for a more diversified chamber. Among them, Kathy Inkinen, aka my Mom. In addition to my mom, I would like to acknowledge these extraordinary women, Mieko Otsuka, Christine Kubota, Candice Naito, Melanie Okazaki and Rika Hirata.  These women have been outstanding mentors to our women chamber members, including myself.

When I opened my business and joined the chamber in 2001, the chamber was considered the “Senior chamber” -  and for a reason.  These days, the HJCC has gained more women and younger business leaders. Today, our membership includes approximately 30% women members.  In addition, 50-percent of the standing committee chairs and vice are women.  Our board of directors is almost equal as well.

We know that the world around us is changing at an unprecedented pace. Technological advancements, shifting paradigms, and emerging trends challenge us to adapt and evolve. What we should not do is remain stagnant or complacent in the face of progress.

With that in mind, last year, under Myles’ leadership, the chamber started the process of developing new and progressive initiatives, including a mentorship program that will position the chamber as a platform for entry and mid-career professionals - both men and women - to hone their skills.

We are also upgrading our website and membership management system that will be easier to navigate and to better connect members. Implementing these revamped internal and external platforms ensures that we are well-positioned to address the needs of our members now and into the future.

This year, I will continue the work to upgrade the Chamber’s tools it provides, and expand the HJCC’s presence in our community.  Most importantly, with close to 700 members of our chamber, my aim will be to elevate the members experience and ensure high value is placed on everything our chamber does.

Here’s my reality check: I'm a proud Yonsei, 4th generation Japanese American in Hawaii, who has learned values and perseverance from those that came before me.  I am a mother of two daughters, Kayli and Rylie, and wife to Ryan, all here tonight. Thank you for your support family!  I’m also a business owner and proud to be a chamber member for over 22 years, which puts me in the category of “Senior Member”, I guess! I am filled with gratitude that I have the opportunity to serve this chamber and all of you. I am looking forward to sharing the business and personal skills I’ve gained in the chamber and look forward to working with everyone here tonight.

When we talk about the future, it’s not only about how we operate, but also what the chamber looks like.  Our 125th anniversary is coming up in two years and plans are already underway to celebrate this tremendous milestone.

Kristi Inkinen Yanagihara
Kristi Inkinen Yanagihara

Kristi Inkinen Yanagihara
Chair of the Board (FY 2023-2024)

It’s important to note, that throughout the chamber’s existence, we’ve never wavered from our mission of members supporting members, fostering strong relationships and promoting economic growth.

We continue to promote our mission through leadership development that benefits HJCC members specifically and enhances the State’s business community in general.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being a chamber member all these years: relationships are key. I’m sure many of the long time members here tonight will agree with me that these connections forged through the chamber are priceless and lifelong. This invaluable network is just part of the member experience that differentiates us from other organizations.

As we embark on the year ahead, let us remember that our legacy is not solely about what we have accomplished— it’s about the impact we leave behind. It’s about the lives we touch, the communities we serve, and the world we will shape.

Thank you for joining us tonight, thank you for your support, and may our legacy be a source of inspiration that propels us forward.

Inauguration, Membership Recognition & Generational Award Celebration
July 13, 2023