Former University of Hawaiʻi regent and alumna Catherine “Kitty” Yannone died on June 2 at the age of 69. Yannone was most recently the chief executive officer of the public relations firm CommPac. In May, she announced that she would be closing the firm to focus on her ovarian cancer fight. Yannone purchased CommPac in 1998, after first joining the firm as a junior account executive in 1986.
Yannone grew up in California before attending UH Mānoa and graduating with a degree in English literature in 1981. She served for six years on the UH Board of Regents, including two as chair and two as vice chair. During her leadership, the board voted to move forward with the development of the UH West Oʻahu campus and the UH Hilo College of Pharmacy, among other important decisions. Yannone was also a recipient of the 2017 UH Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
“She helped lead the Board of Regents through some extraordinarily challenging times with integrity, strength and heart,” UH President David Lassner said. “We were fortunate to enjoy the benefits of her wisdom and wit in equal measure. She fought cancer with all she had and will be sorely missed.”
Before joining CommPac, Yannone was a founding board member and the first executive director of Hawaiʻi’s Ronald McDonald House. She also served as vice president of the Kapiʻolani Health Foundation and served as a board member of the American Red Cross–Hawaiʻi Chapter, Bishop Museum, Hawaiʻi Symphony Orchestra and Diamond Head Theatre. Yannone is a past president of the Rotary Club of Honolulu, Hawaiʻi’s oldest and largest Rotary club; and served two terms on the board of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi.
Yannone is survived by her mother, Lorraine Yannone; sons Chad and Kalin Dudley; five grandchildren; brothers Steven Yannone and Alex Yannone; and sister Judy Ferguson. Details of a memorial service are pending.