2011 Distinguished Alumni Awards

April 25th, 2011  |  by  |  Published in UHAA News  |  2 Comments

Join the University of Hawaiʻi Alumni Association and guests in celebrating recipients of the 2011 Distinguished Alumni Awards on May 12, 2011, at the Sheraton Waikīkī Hotel.

The awards event includes dinner, entertainment and a silent auction; proceeds support UHAA scholarships and benefit association programs. For details or to make reservations, visit the website, call 808 956-2586 (toll-free 1-877-842-5867) or email events@uhalumni.org.

Meet the awardees

L. Tammy Duckworth

L. Tammy Duckworth headshot

L. Tammy Duckworth (BA in political science ’89 Mānoa) is assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and a major in the Illinois Army National Guard.

An attack on the Black Hawk helicopter she was co-piloting in Iraq resulted in the loss of both of her legs and partial use of one arm. Since recovering, Duckworth has testified on disability rights and veterans before Congress and delivered a key address on veterans’ rights at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

She has received military and civilian honors including the Purple Heart, Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award and American Veterans Silver Helmet. She was named Disabled Veteran of the Year by Disabled American Veterans and received the Colin Powell Public Service Award from The George Washington University, where she received her master’s in international affairs.

She continues to serve in the National Guard, completed the Chicago Marathon and has resumed flying as a civilian pilot.

Gary Galiher and Diane Ono

Gary Galiher headshot

Gary Galiher (MEd in educational foundations ’71, JD ’77 Mānoa) and Diane Ono (AS in paralegal ’82 Kapiʻolani; BA in Asian studies ’73, JD ’91 Mānoa) are senior partner and managing partner, respectively, with Honolulu law firm Galiher DeRobertis Ono.

Active with the William S. Richardson School of Law and its alumni chapter, they established the Galiher Ono Distinguished Public Lecture Series, fund scholarships and host events.

The law school’s 2007 Alumnus of the Year, Galiher has won more than 50 jury verdicts and settled thousands of claims for clients diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases. He also helped secure a $1.38 billion settlement from the tobacco industry and $20 million settlement from five major oil companies for the State of Hawaiʻi.

Diane Ono headshot

Ono is director and past president of Hawaiʻi Children’s Cancer Foundation, president of Hawaiʻi Attorneys for Justice and trustee of Mid-Pacific Institute and is active with Friends of the UH Cancer Center.

The couple’s daughter Mari participated in a cancer center trial 12 years ago and is now a leukemia survivor and first-year student at Mānoa.

The couple also served on the UH Foundation Centennial Campaign Cabinet.

Richard Ha

Richard Ha headshot

Richard Ha (BBA in accounting ’73 Mānoa) is founder and president of Hāmākua Springs Country Farms, a 600-acre family operation on the Island of Hawaiʻi that sustainably produces bananas and hydroponic vegetables.

A former U.S. Army captain and Vietnam War veteran, he started growing bananas on his father’s chicken farm at Waiākea Uka and started several businesses over the years. He serves on the Hawaiʻi Island Economic Development Board, represents the County of Hawaiʻi on the state Agriculture Executive Board and co-chairs the Geothermal Working Group.

A 2008 Shidler College of Business Hall of Honor inductee, he has served on advisory boards for Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources and UH Hilo and organized community support for UH’s proposed $1 billion Thirty Meter Telescope project on Mauna Kea.

Elected to the Social Science Association, an organization of community leaders, Ha speaks frequently on agriculture and sustainability and promotes hydroelectric energy on the Big Island.

John T. Komeiji

John T. Komeiji headshot

John T. Komeiji (BEd in secondary education and political science ’75 Mānoa) is senior vice president and general counsel of Hawaiian Telcom, overseeing legal, governmental and external affairs.

Formerly a senior partner with Watanabe Ing and Komeiji, he litigated complex commercial, personal injury and professional liability cases and represented the National Football League, Viacom, Dole Foods, First Hawaiian Bank and other clients. He is an arbitrator and master mediator and founding board member of the Hawaiʻi Institute for Public Affairs.

Past president of the Hawaiʻi State Bar Association and a lawyer representative to state and federal judicial conferences, he is active in numerous professional organizations and has served on the boards of several for-profit and nonprofit organizations, including the UH Foundation. He taught pretrial litigation in the William S. Richardson School of Law, where he received the 2002 Co-Adjunct Professor of the Year Award.

Hing Leung Sham

Hing Leung Sham headshot

Hing Leung Sham (PhD in synthetic organic chemistry ’80 Mānoa) is senior vice president of chemical sciences at Elan biopharmaceutical firm, where he oversees drug discovery efforts for autoimmune, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. He previously directed medicinal chemistry research in metabolic diseases at Abbott Laboratories, where he was a Distinguished Research Fellow and received the 1995 President’s Award, 1999 Outstanding Researcher of the Year Award and 2002 Chairman’s Award. He was the primary inventor of Abbott’s Kaletra protease inhibitor for the treatment of HIV infection and a co-inventor of Norvir (ritonavir) first-generation protease inhibitor.

Author or co-author of more than 160 scientific publications and inventor on 75 issued U.S. patents, Sham was named National Inventor of the Year by the Intellectual Property Owners Association in 1997. He received the 2003 Heroes of Chemistry Award from the American Chemical Society, belongs to numerous professional associations and served on the editorial board for the journal Current Medicinal Chemistry.

Isabella Aiona Abbott

Isabella Aiona Abbott headshot

Isabella Aiona Abbott (BA ’41 Mānoa) will be posthumously recognized and her family presented with the Founders Alumni Association 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award.

The preeminent marine ethnobotanist was the first person of Hawaiian ancestry to earn a PhD in science and first woman on Stanford’s biology faculty, the UH Mānoa emerita Wilder Professor and 1994 UHAA Distinguished Alumna was considered to be the foremost expert on central-Pacific algae.

5867) or email events@uhalumni.org.

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  1. Cheryl Ernst says:

    June 24th, 2011at 9:48 am(#)

    View photos of the dinner

  2. Cheryl Ernst says:

    July 26th, 2011at 12:05 pm(#)

    Videos of and about the honorees have been posted on the UH Alumni Association website. View

    Tammy Duckworth
    Gary Galiher and Diane Ono
    Richard Ha
    John T. Komeiji
    Hing Leung Sham