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.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Photo of HIDOE leadership.

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 Hawai‘i 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; 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 5, 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 and special projects.

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, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Student Support Services


Heidi Armstrong was appointed in February 2019 as Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Student Support Services after serving in the position on an interim basis since July 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. The creation of this office was approved by the Board of Education in May 2018.


Alisa Bender
Alisa Bender, Interim Assistant Superintendent, Office of Curriculum and Instructional Design


Alisa Bender was appointed as Interim Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Design (OCID) on January 1, 2020. Prior to her appointment, Bender served as principal of Hickam Elementary, which was recognized in 2019 as a National Blue Ribbon School. She has received numerous accolades including the 2019 Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding Leadership, the 2019 Masayuki Tokioka Excellence in School Leadership Award, and the 2019 K. Mark Takai Outstanding Civil Contributor award. She previously served as Vice Principal at James Campbell High School, as a Central District Personnel Specialist, and was recognized as Leeward District Teacher of the Year while co-teaching English Language Arts.


Brook ConnerDavid 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 CovellCynthia Covell, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Talent Management

Cynthia (Cindy) Covell was appointed on Nov. 7, 2017, to oversee the talent management needs — recruiting, development, retention, employee and labor relations — of 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 U.S. Navy. She has over 30 years of leadership and human resource experience with the Department of Defense (DoD), where she served her last tour as the commander of the Navy's personnel headquarters and senior HR executive. During her time with the DoD, Covell served as the leader and senior advisor to a team of over 4,000 HR professionals that provided talent management services to more than 500,000 military and civilian personnel. She also lived and served in numerous places in and outside of the U.S. including Japan, where she provided HR services to over 70,000 DoD personnel throughout the Pacific and Far East, and in Athens, Greece, where she was one of the first U.S. female naval officers to serve as a NATO liaison officer.  

Covell also has an educator background as a naval officer responsible for training and educating sailors at various Navy schools throughout the U.S. She has a master's degree in adult education and human resource development from The George Washington University, a master's in national security studies from the Naval War College, and an education doctoral degree from UH Mānoa's College of Education.


Brian HallettBrian Hallett, Assistant Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer, Office of Fiscal Services


Brian Hallett was appointed as Assistant Superintendent of the Office of Fiscal Services (OFS) and Chief Financial Officer on June 19, 2020, to oversee HIDOE's accounting, budget, and procurement activities and systems serving the needs of the schools, school complexes, complex areas and the state central office. Hallett provides direction and guidance for all levels of the organization in support of sound fiscal management practices.

Hallett has worked in the state government sector for the past 25 years and has served as HIDOE's Budget Director for seven years with a brief stint as Chief of Staff to the Speaker of the Hawaii House of Representatives. Earlier in his career, he served in budget administrator and specialist roles for HIDOE's Budget Execution Section, the Senate Ways and Means Committee, the House Finance Committee and the Department of Public Safety.  Hallett holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Washington with a dual major in political science and environmental studies, and studied Urban and Regional Planning and Natural Resource Managment at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  


Rodney LukeRodney 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.


Christine Shaw Randall Tanaka, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Facilities and Operations


Randall Tanaka was appointed as Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Facilities and Operations (OFO) on January 16, 2020, to oversee construction and maintenance of facilities and operations of food services, transportation and security for the public school system.

Prior to his appointment, Tanaka served as deputy director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT). He previously served as president and executive director of the 2016 World Conservation Congress event in Honolulu and was responsible for the logistics of hosting over 10,000 delegates from 190 countries. Tanaka also previously served as chief operating officer of the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Hawaiʻi Host Committee; Director of Commercial and Auxiliary Enterprises, Safety and Security, at the University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges; and in various capacities at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center and in the hospitality industry. Tanaka holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) and lectures at the UHM Travel Industry Management School. He holds a wide range of professional affiliations including the Professional Convention Management Association, the International Association of Venue Management and the United States-Japan Hawaiʻi Council.


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