Leadership Profiles and Staff

The Board of Education hires the superintendent as the chief executive officer of the public school system and approves all leadership appointments. The superintendent appoints a deputy superintendent and six assistant superintendents to oversee curriculum, instruction, and student support; human resources; fiscal services; school facilities; and information technology services. The superintendent also appoints 15 complex area superintendents.

​Complex Area Superintendents​​Meet the Department's leaders at our Complex Areas.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​State leadership

Christina Kishimoto Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto, Superintendent

Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto began a three-year contract as superintendent on Aug. 1, 2017. She is responsible for efficiently and effectively administering the Hawaii public school system in accordance with law and educational policies adopted by the Board of Education. On October 3, 2017, Dr. K presented an Implementation Plan to advance the goals of the DOE/BOE Strategic Plan. Her plan is targeted around three high impact strategies: School Design, Student Voice, and Teacher Collaboration.

Dr. Kishimoto is a former Superintendent and Chief Executive Officer for Gilbert Public Schools in Gilbert, Arizona, a district with an enrollment of 36,500 students and an annual budget of $305 million. She also served as Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent of School Design at Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut was the Founder and Director of The Center for School Improvement & Leadership Development at Area Cooperative Education Services, and Assistant Dean of Student Services for Wesleyan University. She earned a Doctorate in Education Administration from Columbia University Teachers College, a Master of Public Administration in Public Affairs and Policy from the University of Connecticut, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Barnard College.

Phyllis Unebasami Phyllis Unebasami,
Deputy Superintendent

Phyllis Unebasami was appointed as deputy superintendent on September 6, 2017 after serving as acting assistant superintendent for the Office of Strategy, Innovation and Planning for HIDOE. The deputy superintendent assists the superintendent in executing duties and responsibilities of the office, and is delegated authority to act for the superintendent. The deputy superintendent is responsible for leading, directing and supervising the academic/education programs in HIDOE. As deputy superintendent, Unebasami oversees the department’s 15 Complex Areas, Military Liaison Program, Special Projects and the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Services.

During her time with HIDOE, she served in school-level, district and state positions including as an administrator for the Professional Development and Educational Research Institute, deputy superintendent for the Windward District Office, principal and vice principal. Unebasami was also an independent educational consultant, managing director at Kamehameha Schools for Hoʻolaukoa Educational Systems and Strategies as well as a division director for Literacy Instruction and Support.

Heidi Armstrong Heidi Armstrong, Interim Assistant Superintendent, Office of Student Support Services

Heidi Armstrong was appointed to the position of Interim Assistant Superintendent for the new Office of Student Support Services for a one-year term effective July 20, 2018. Armstrong has been with the Department for 30 years, most recently as Complex Area Superintendent for Campbell-Kapolei Complex Area. Prior to becoming CAS in 2012, she served as principal of Iroquois Point Elementary, where she led continuous improvements in school performance and quality, as comprehensive supports for students helped boost reading and math proficiency. She began her career with the Department in 1988 as a math teacher at Pohakea Elementary, where she became vice principal in 2000. Armstrong also was the vice principal at Waipahu High from 2001-02. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, and a master's degree in educational administration from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. This newly created office was approved by the Board of Education on May 17, 2018.

Dann Carlson Dann CarlsonAssistant Superintendent, Office of School Facilities and Support Services

Dann Carlson was appointed on November 2014 to manage one of the largest areas in the HIDOE. The Office of School Facilities and Support Services (OSFSS) exercises technical staff oversight of business, construction, repair and maintenance of facilities, food services, heat abatement, and transportation support for the public school system.

From 2011 to 2013, Carlson was the Deputy Joint Base Commander at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam. He led more than 900 Air Force personnel in six squadrons: civil engineering, security forces, contracting, communications, logistics and force support. He also led operations for more than 1,100 Navy personnel and civilians providing base and operating support on an installation that serviced over 80,000 personnel, spanned 35,000 acres, with an annual budget of over $500 million and a plant replacement value of over $18 billion. During his tenure he spearheaded a complete organizational change to a Navy-led Joint Base while still garnering the top rank of 77 Navy installations. Carlson was a board member for the Joint Venture Education Forum, a member of the Interstate Compact for Military Children, served on the Blue Ribbon Schools Commission and was very active at Radford High School where his three children attended.

Brook Conner David Brookshire "Brook" Conner, Assistant Superintendent & Chief Information Officer,
Office of Information Technology Services

David Brookshire "Brook" Conner was appointed on Sept. 25, 2017 to oversee HIDOE’s information and telecommunication systems, facilities, and services of the public school system and department-wide operations. The Office of Information Technology Services (OITS) ensures that information technology and telecommunications support are being provided efficiently and effectively, and in accordance with laws, policies, and accepted principles of management. The scope of OITS’ technical oversight includes voice, data, video, information systems infrastructure, and support services for schools and for complex areas and state administrative offices. Support services to schools are exercised in collaboration with the complex area superintendent.

Conner has served in high-profile information technology (IT) positions, most recently as the first chief information security officer and vice president for Estée Lauder Companies where he constructed a cyber security program, managed a budget of $22 million and ensured compliance. He also worked for Morgan Stanley as an executive director and global head of vulnerability management, Bloomberg LP, and as an adjunct professor at New York University. Conner has also published numerous books and papers on a variety of IT topics.

Cynthia Covell Cynthia Covell, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Talent Management

Cynthia Covell was appointed on Nov. 7, 2017 to oversee the Department's workforce of 22,000 full-time employees and 20,000 substitute teachers and casual employees.

Covell is a retired two-star Rear Admiral with the United States Navy. She has over 30 years of leadership and human resources (HR) experience with the Department of Defense (DOD) where she served as the Commander of Navy Personnel Headquarters and senior HR executive.

During her time with the DOD, Covell oversaw a team of 4,000 HR professionals that provided services to more than 500,000 military and civilian personnel. She also led remotely dispersed teams overseas in Yokosuka, Japan, and managed remote offices in Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Diego Garcia, Guam and Hawaii. Covell previously served as the U.S. Navy NATO Representative in Athens, Greece as well as diversity advisor to the head of the Navy. She started her career as a communications watch officer serving at the Naval Communications Area Master Station, Wahiawa, Hawaii.

Amy Kunz Amy Kunz, Assistant Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer, Office of Fiscal Services

Amy Kunz was appointed in September 2011 as Assistant Superintendent of the Office of Fiscal Services and Chief Financial Officer. In her role as Senior Assistant Superintendent (appointed November 2014, acting since March 2014), she oversaw the Offices of Fiscal Services, Information Technology Services, Human Resources and School Facilities and Support Services. She has extensive experience in operations, strategic financial planning and reporting, job costing, and project and facility management. Kunz serves on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools (NAFIS) and the Military Impacted Schools Association (MISA). She also serves as Co-Chair to the Joint Venture Education Forum (JVEF), a partnership between HIDOE and the military service branches in Hawaii. She is also a PTSA member at both Aikahi Elementary and Kalaheo High School.

Kunz came to the Department from Gannett, Co. Inc., Honolulu, where she was responsible for special projects since May 2010. She was previously the controller and director of budget and analyses for The Honolulu Advertiser. Kunz has also served as an internal auditor, accounting supervisor, and business manager at newspapers in Nevada and Nebraska. Kunz has a bachelor's degree in comprehensive business administration with an emphasis in Accounting and Finance from the University of Nebraska-Kearney. Her volunteer experiences include serving as parent representative of Aikahi Elementary School’s Student Community Council, past treasurer of Aikahi’s Parent, Teacher, Student Association, blood donor, youth baseball coach and team mom. Her two children attend public school.

Rodney Luke Rodney Luke, Assistant Superintendent,
Office of Strategy, Innovation and Performance

Rodney Luke was appointed Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Strategy, Innovation, and Performance (OSIP) on May 3, 2018. OSIP works to ensure that the aims of equity and excellence in the school system set by the Strategic Plan are systemized and supported. The three branches of OSIP are Assessment and Accountability, Data Governance and Analysis, and Policy, Innovation, Planning and Evaluation.

Luke began his education career as a tutor and special program coordinator. He was hired as a teacher at Aliamanu Elementary in 1990. From 1991 to 1999, he taught at UH Laboratory, Iroquois Point, Kaleiopuu and Holomua elementary schools. He transitioned to Waipahu Intermediate (2000-02), left the school to implement various initiatives as a district resource teacher in Leeward Oahu (2002-03), and later shifted roles to serve as Kapolei Elementary's curriculum coordinator (2003-05). He entered school administration in 2005 and served as vice principal at Kapolei Elementary (2005) and Holomua Elementary (2005-09), before serving as principal of Stevenson Middle (2009-11). Luke then served as Complex Area Superintendent for the Pearl City-Waipahu complex area (2011-17) and as Interim Assistant Superintendent for OSIP from Oct. 1, 2017. Luke has a bachelor's degree and master of education degrees in education administration and teacher education curriculum studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Suzanne Mulcahy Donna Lum-Kagawa, Assistant Superintendent,
Office of Curriculum and Instructional Design

Donna Lum Kagawa was appointed Interim Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Student Services (OCISS). On May 17, 2018, OCISS was split into the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Design and the Office of Student Support Services. The offices' primary responsibility: development, coordination, and implementation of the DOE/BOE Strategic Plan, that Hawai'i's students are educated, healthy and joyful lifelong learners who contribute positively to our community and global society.

Lum-Kagawa most recently served as the Complex Area Superintendent for Farrington-Kaiser-Kalani and was previously an Administrator for the Department's Professional Development and Educational Research Institute. She has a deep history in the HIDOE including:  teaching at Kalani High and Ala Wai Elementary in special education, serving as a vice principal and principal of Hokulani Elementary — recognized as a distinguished Blue Ribbon School, and serving as principal at Jarrett Middle School leading a turnaround process to raise student achievement. Lum-Kagawa holds a master's degree in Special Education and an educational administration certification.

Strategic Plan 2017-2020

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