Mayor Kenoi Announces New Cabinet Appointments

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Mayor Billie Kenoi

Hawaii Island Mayor Billy Kenoi today announced the appointment of former state Land Use Commission Chairman Duane Kanuha as the county’s new planning director. Bobby Jean Leithead Todd, who has served as county planning director for the past four years, will assume control of the county Department of Environmental Management.

Mayor Kenoi also announced the appointment of Laverne Omori as director of the Department of Research and Development, and Hilo bank manager Donn Mende as deputy director of Research and Development.


Mayor Kenoi also named Kona-based Executive Assistant Bobby Command as the new deputy planning director. Command will assume the position now held by attorney Margaret Masunaga, who is moving from the Planning Department to practice law in the county Office of the Corporation Counsel.

Mayor Kenoi also named former Hawai‘i Community Foundation program officer Clarysse Kami Nunokawa to the position of executive assistant to the mayor.

“We are excited to be making these changes to better serve our community,” Mayor Kenoi said. “These appointments add new energy and expertise to our departments and staff, and I want to thank each of our appointees for their commitment to our community.”

Kanuha served as the county’s deputy planning director from 1976 to 1984, and was planning director from 1988 to 1990 during the administration of the late Mayor Bernard Akana. He was Hawai‘i Island commissioner on the state Land Use Commission from 2005 to 2011, and was chair of the commission from 2008 to 2009.

In 2007, Kanuha was appointed executive vice president of Kohala Investment Works LLC, a subsidiary of Surety Kohala Corporation.

The appointment of Leithead Todd as director of Department of Environmental Management (DEM) marks the second time she has led that department. Leithead Todd   previously served as DEM director in 2007 and 2008.

A graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law, Leithead Todd served as Hawai‘i County deputy corporation counsel for nine years, from 1987-1993 and from 2003-2007. She also served as the Legislative Auditor for the County, and as a member of the Hawai‘i County Council from 1996 to 2003.

Omori, the new head of Research and Development, has served as deputy director of the Department of Research and Development since 2010. Previously she worked as an economic development specialist in Research & Development; as a planner in the county Office of Aging; and as program director in the Department of Parks & Recreation.

Mende, who will serve as the new deputy director of Research and Development, is currently Hilo branch manager of Hawai‘i National Bank. A graduate of Waiakea High School, Mende previously worked in trust and investment banking in Honolulu before returning to Hilo to take a position with American Savings Bank in 2006.

Command, who is being appointed deputy planning director, has served as executive assistant to Mayor Billy Kenoi since 2008, and worked on projects such as the Ane Keohokalole Highway and the Mamalahoa Highway Bypass. Command graduated from University of Hawai‘i at Manoa with a degree in journalism, and was a longtime reporter at West Hawaii Today specializing in land use.

Nunokawa is currently a planner in the county Office of Aging, and previously served as grant manager and compliance coordinator for the $2 million Strategic Prevention Framework-State Incentive Grant to prevent underage drinking. She also served as a program officer for Hawai‘i Community Foundation, and as a planner and program specialist for the state Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities.


Submitted by Hawaii county





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