OHA Announces Leadership Transition


OHA CEO Dr. Sylvia Hussey is leaving the agency effective June 30; Chief of Staff Colin Kippen has been named interim CEO

Photo: Sylvia Hussey
Sylvia M. Hussey, Ed.D.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs Ka Pouhana/CEO Dr. Sylvia Hussey has announced she will be leaving the organization at the end of the fiscal year to focus on her personal and ‘ohana health.

OHA Board Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey notified agency staff members of the planned June 30, 2023, departure by email on May 3. Hussey has served as chief executive officer since December 2019 and was the organization’s chief operating officer since joining the agency in November 2018.

“Sylvia has worked tirelessly to lead this organization and support its mission and our beneficiaries. While we are saddened by this news, we wish Sylvia the best in her future endeavors and we cannot thank her enough for the contributions she has made to the lāhui,” said OHA Board Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey.

Hussey is credited with leading the implementation of OHAʻs 15-year Mana i Mauli Ola Strategic Plan and managing an agency reorganization which reduced overhead costs, streamlined operations and redirected resources to beneficiaries and communities. Under Hussey’s leadership, OHA provided record funding amounts in grant awards to community nonprofits working to strengthen OHA’s strategic foundations of ʻohana, moʻomeheu and ʻāina.

A certified public accountant, Hussey was instrumental in improving the financial transparency of the organization, implementing new, and aligning current, policies, procedures and practices, and supporting the design and implementation of the Board’s governance and policy frameworks.

Photo: Colin Kippen
Colin Kippen

Colin Kippen has been named interim chief executive officer effective July 1. Prior to his appointment he served as chief of staff to the OHA Board of Trustees and formerly served the agency as deputy administrator of the Hawaiian Rights Division.

A former trial lawyer, Kippen’s vast experience includes serving as a chief judge for Chief Seattle’s Suquamish tribe in Washington state, as administrator of the Native Hawaiian Education Council, administrator of the National Indian Education Association serving all Native Americans in Washington D.C., a former senior counsel to the late Sen. Daniel Inouye on the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, a former fundraiser for the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, a former State of Hawaiʻi Homeless Director, and a former policy and government relations director for the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.

Kumabe HR has been retained to aid trustees in the recruitment and selection of a new agency CEO. It is expected that the permanent position will be filled before the end of the year.