Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto,
Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto was
appointed state superintendent of the Hawaii State Department of Education on August 1, 2017. Her education career spans over 25 years of equity-focused work across three states, in both lower and higher education, including two previous CEO/superintendent roles in Gilbert, Arizona, and Hartford, Connecticut. Dr. Kishimoto has proudly served as board president of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, board member of the Council of Chief State School Officers, and is a national Chief for Change. Dr. K is passionately committed to the power and promise of public education as a nexus of community advancement and economic growth through student voice, parent engagement, and a diverse portfolio of innovative school designs led by public educators. 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, Columbia University.
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, 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.
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, 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 Hallett, Assistant Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer, Office of Fiscal Services
Brian Hallett was appointed 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 Committee on Ways and Means, the House Committee on Finance 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 Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
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 six branches under OSIP are Assessment and Accountability; Data Governance and Analysis; Policy, Innovation, Planning and Evaluation; School Transformation; Community Engagement; and Communications.
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 School, 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 Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
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 Jan. 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 state 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's degree from the UH Mānoa and a range of professional affiliations including the Professional Convention Management Association, the International Association of Venue Management and the United States-Japan Hawaiʻi Council.
Teri Ushijima, Interim Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum and Instructional Design
Teri Ushijima was appointed as interim assistant superintendent for the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Design on Nov. 2, 2020. Prior to her appointment, Teri served as the director of Assessment and Accountability under the Office of Strategy, Innovation and Performance. The branch is responsible for the development and implementation of the Department’s statewide summative assessments and the associated accountability systems. Prior to her role as director, Teri served as executive director of the Leadership Institute, Aiea-Moanalua-Radford complex area superintendent as well as a principal at Mokulele Elementary and vice principal at Moanalua High. She is a National Milken Educator Award recipient and also taught at Mililani Mauka, Mokulele, Leihoku and Honowai Elementary schools.