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 on May 17, 2018.

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.

Brian Hallett

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

Brian Hallett was appointed as Interim Assistant Superintendent of the Office of Fiscal Services (OFS) and Chief Financial Officer on August 1, 2019, 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 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.

Christine Shaw

Christine Shaw, Interim Assistant Superintendent, Office of Facilities and Operations

Christine Shaw was appointed as Interim Assistant Superintendent for the Office of Facilities and Operations (OFO) on July 16, 2019, to oversee the business, construction and maintenance of facilities, food services, and transportation support for the public school system.

Shaw has worked in the public education sector for the past 25 years, with 17 years in higher education at the University of Hawaii (UH) and eight years in K-12 education with HIDOE.  She has served for the past five years as Executive Assistant in the Office of Information Technology Services (OITS) and also served as OITS Interim Assistant Superintendent in 2015 and again in 2017.  

She began her career at HIDOE as an analyst for data governance.  Her prior work in the UH System included service as an Institutional Research Analyst and later as program manager for the UH student information system. Shaw holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a bachelor’s degree from Chaminade University, and is a proud graduate of Castle High School. 

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