Wednesday | November 22, 2017
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YMCA honors ‘remarkable’ women

The YWCA of Hawaii Island will honor retired Hilo business owner Jan Higashi and Professor Jackie Pualani Johnson at its annual Remarkable Person Luncheon on Thursday, June 27, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel Moku ‘Ola Room.

“The YWCA is proud to celebrate the remarkable achievements of these inspiring women,” said Chief Executive Officer Kathleen McGilvray. “Jan and Jackie have demonstrated professional excellence throughout their careers and worked tirelessly to help women and children and improve our community.”

Higashi was raised in Paauilo, 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 and Hospice of Hilo, and served as the first woman president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of 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.

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. Sen. Mazie Hirono, Merrie Monarch co-founder Dottie Thompson, former Prosecuting Attorney Charlene Iboshi and retired Hilo pediatrician Dr. Ruth Matsuura.

Tickets to the luncheon are $50. There are a limited number still available, which may be purchased through the YWCA by calling Alena Kiyota at 935-6067, ext. 121, or emailing her at

For more information on YWCA Hawaii Island, please visit


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