The YWCA says Higashi and Johnson have demonstrated professional excellence throughout their careers and worked tirelessly to help women and children and improve the community over the years.
The biographies of both women were forwarded in a media release by the Hastings & Pleadwell PR firm in the weeks before the event:
|Jan Higashi was raised in Paauilo, and is a graduate of Honokaa High School and Hilo Commercial College, where she received her Certified Professional Secretary designation. She recently retired as a business owner after successfully managing companies such as Creative Arts Hawaii and Instant Sign Centers of Hawaii. Higashi has assumed a leadership position for various organizations including the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce, Hospice of Hilo, and served as the first woman President of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Hawaii. She spearheaded a business community-university effort to support the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Performing Arts Center, which she helped redirect and rename. She is also involved in a number of community organizations and has coordinated local and national political campaigns. She resides in Hilo with her husband and has one daughter who lives in California.
Jackie Pualani Johnson was born and raised in Hilo. She is a graduate of St. Joseph High School and received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Drama from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Returning to Hilo, she helped organize, and appeared in, the Hilo Community Players’ outdoor Summer Shakespeare, now in its 36th continuous year. Johnson is professor and chair of the Performing Arts Department at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, where she has been an actress and stage director for more than 30 years. Recently, she acted in and directed historical performances for the Kona Historical Society. She is married with three daughters and six grandchildren.
Past YWCA Remarkable Person honorees include U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono, Merrie Monarch co-founder Dottie Thompson, former Prosecuting Attorney Charlene Iboshi and retired Hilo pediatrician Dr. Ruth Matsuura.