Hawaiʻi Community College‘s Joni Onishi, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Shannon Oshiro and the UH System Office of Human Resources and Office of Systems Integration have been selected as the university’s nominees for the Governor’s Awards for Distinguished State Service. The award honors the state’s executive branch employees and managers who exemplify the highest caliber of public service and dedication to serving the people of Hawaiʻi. There are three awards—Employee of the Year, Manager of the Year and Team of the Year.

four people standing next to each other

UH Governor’s award nominee for Manager of the Year Joni Onishi receiving her award from, from left, Regent Randolph Moore, Regent Benjamin Asa Kudo and UH President David Lassner

UH nominee for Manager of the Year: Hawaiʻi CC‘s Joni Onishi

Onishi serves as the vice chancellor for academic affairs at Hawaiʻi CC. She is responsible for the overall administration, management, development and integrity of all academic programs and services at the college, both instructional and non-instructional.

Amidst all the disparate parts, Joni has demonstrated the ability to work out the necessary details to make progress on various projects and initiatives without losing sight of the big picture.

In a short period of time, she implemented the UH Community Colleges Co-Requisite Policy, which required a complete redesign of the curricular structure for all developmental English and math classes. This required her uncanny ability to have various constituents work collaboratively for a common goal. Students are now able to enroll in new courses for the next academic year and faculty can teach new curricula with the benefit of having received quality professional development.

She has taken active leadership roles in many system/campus initiatives, including Student Success Pathways, Integrated Student Support, Developmental Education Acceleration, Exploratory Majors/Transfer Pathways, STAR Registration, Prior Learning Assessment, and in numerous accreditation self-evaluation and improvement efforts.

Beyond all her accomplishments, she is valued for how she exercises her leadership. Every attribute you can think of that a great leader would posses is how she is described. Always positive and humble, she is genuinely sincere. With respect to all, she always recognizes others for their contributions and commitment.

A colleague writes, “Joni Onishi is exemplar of a life devoted to educational service. (She) stands in her unassuming way, as the heart of Hawaiʻi Community College, serving as a true champion of our students and the Hawaiʻi island community.”

UH Governor’s award nominee for Employee of the Year Shannon Oshiro receiving her award from, from left, Regent Randolph Moore, Regent Benjamin Asa Kudo and UH President David Lassner

UH Nominee for Employee of the Year: UH Mānoa’s Shannon Oshiro

Oshiro serves as the administrative services manager and oversees all administrative functions in the College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature, including budget, fiscal, human resources and facilities management. She is a key member of the leadership team assisting the dean and associate dean to execute the mission and strategic plan for the college.

She was instrumental in changing the leadership model that was previously centered on the dean, to one that was more collaborative and team-based.

The college inherited a $1.4 million deficit and Oshiro worked closely with the dean and associate dean to execute a plan to repay the debt over a three-year period. They were successful in their efforts and as of this year, they are no longer in the red. Procedures have been put in place to sustain these efforts.

Oshiro takes a proactive approach to training department chairs, faculty and staff with regards to identifying and handling personnel issues. There has been a noticeable reduction in complaints and grievances, and a better working environment has been created. She provides services beyond her college and assists her administrative service managers colleagues across campus. She has organized “brown-bag” luncheons for newly employed managers and HR staff and also organized joint training on collaborative leadership for the staff in other schools and colleges.

Oshiro is viewed as an asset systemwide and is consistently sought after for assistance, advice and help. Her colleagues agree that she “belongs to an elite group of university employees who are widely admired and appreciated…for their expertise, their clarity, and for being generous with their ideas and time.”

nine people standing in a row

From left, UH President David Lassner, Brenda Shin, Krysti Uranaka, Donna Matsumura, Clifford Shinchi, Diane Ho, Regent Benjamin Asa Kudo, Jan Gouveia and Regent Randolph Moore

UH nominees for Team of the Year: UH System Office of Human Resources and Office of Systems Integration

Jan Gouveia, Donna Kiyosaki, Katherine Wong-Nakamura, Diane Ho, Brenda Shin, Clifford Shinchi, Donna Bulosan, Krysti Uranaka, Diana Hamasaki, Donna Matsumura, Victoria Moore and Mikayla Muranaka

This team is being recognized for their huge efforts in creating the first-ever human resources intranet for the UH System, which employs more than 10,000 employees. This project began two years ago and required extensive amounts of time that came with numerous challenges.

The intranet represents the team’s tireless dedication to not only create new content and completely reorganize the Office of Human Resources website, but also a commitment to transformation.

A step toward standardization, the intranet presents complex laws, policies and rules in easily understandable terms and in a step-by-step format to facilitate a self-help culture for the public and university employees.

It is hoped that this institutionalization will produce enhanced clarity and efficiency in HR matters throughout the university. As their nominator stated, “(the intranet) fostered a better understanding of the lens through which the average employee views HR, allowing HR to better serve university employees.”

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