If experience is the best teacher, then new Hawaiʻi Island Trustee Keola Lindsey has been well-schooled for the next chapter of his life.
Lindsey has spent nearly two decades working with Native Hawaiian communities throughout the state on a broad range of issues.
He started his government career with the State Historic Preservation Division in Kona, and for the last 13 years has served in a variety of roles with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, most recently as OHA’s chief advocate.
Lindsey is a graduate of Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy in Waimea, and carries a bachelor’s in Hawaiian studies and master’s in public administration, both from UH Mānoa.
“I really believe that my professional experience and community work has prepared me for the tremendous responsibility of being an OHA trustee. I’m humbled to have the chance to shape the policies and guide the direction of this organization to make positive impacts in areas like health, housing, education and economic stability that will improve the quality of life for Hawaiians,” he said.
“I recognize the responsibility that comes with being elected, and I’m excited to get to work with my fellow trustees and our administration to help our people in every way possible.”
A highlight of Lindsey’s career at OHA was being a part of the effort to establish and protect the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
“Native Hawaiians should be in decision-making positions when it comes to our natural and cultural resources. Papahānaumokuākea has traditional and spiritual significance to our people, and a key component of this effort was ensuring that our voice was meaningfully represented and equal with state and federal agencies in creating the co-management structure for the area.”
Lindsey takes a pragmatic approach to decision-making.
“I work collaboratively with stakeholders, listen carefully to all perspectives, review all available information, conduct my own research, and ask questions so that I know as much as possible regarding an issue so I can make an informed decision. I’m committed to moving issues forward to develop and implement solutions,” he said.
More than anything, Lindsey said his personal values are what drives him.
“My family has instilled the values that I carry to this day – honesty, working hard, helping others and teamwork. These guide me in everything I do,” he said.
“As a father, husband and son I know the challenges families are facing right now and I’ll do everything I can to see that OHA helps our people succeed and provides a bright future full of possibilities.
“I understand there are many different opinions about OHA in the Native Hawaiian community. I believe OHA does do good work that has a positive impact, but we have to do more. I will approach each day focused on working to increase OHA’s relevance and support for our Native Hawaiian families.”