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Abercrombie announces more Cabinet appointees


Governor-Elect Neil Abercrombie has appointed five department directors and two deputy directors to the Abercrombie Administration.

In his third announcement regarding Cabinet positions, Governor-Elect Abercrombie’s appointments are:

* Bruce Coppa as Director of Department of Accounting and General Services

* Kealii S. Lopez as Director of Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs

* Fred Pablo as Director of Department of Taxation

* Sunshine Topping as Director of Department of Human Resources Development

* State Sen. Russell Kokubun and Jimmy Nakatani as the team leading the Department of Agriculture as its Chairman and Deputy Director, respectively.

* Guy Kaulukukui as Deputy Director of Department of Land and Natural Resources

“We have a growing team of successful leaders from the public and private sectors who are stepping forward because they are inspired by our vision of a New Day in Hawaii,” Abercrombie said. “I’m proud of the process we have followed that allowed us to find talented leaders who will be essential in moving Hawaii forward.”

He has announced 11 department directors and four deputy directors. Department directors will have to be confirmed by the state Senate.

Abercrombie is still interviewing applicants for the directors of the following departments: Health, Attorney General, Defense, Human Services and Transportation.


BRUCE COPPA (DAGS) recently launched a boutique management-consulting firm, Coppa Consulting, Inc., that specializes in business development, strategy and general management.

Prior to that, Coppa served as the Chief Operating Officer of Communications Pacific; and executive director of Pacific Resource Partnership. Coppa, 57, has over 25 years of professional experience in operations and management in Hawaii’s construction industry.

Coppa received his Master’s degree in Business Administration Global Management and Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix.

KEALII S. LOPEZ (DCCA) is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Olelo Community Media. Under her leadership, Olelo has expanded its number of community media centers to seven public schools, including economically disadvantaged schools, to provide video production transition and mentoring for youth and community members.

Prior to this, she worked at Kamehameha Schools developing its Distance Education Program and participated in the process to develop a statewide Telecommunications Infrastructure with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

Lopez, 49, is a graduate of Kaiser High School and the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications.

FRED PABLO (Tax) is the Budget Director for Maui County, where he worked with the legislative branch to pass budget ordinances with unprecedented investments in infrastructure, bus transportation and affordable housing while keeping property taxes as the lowest in the state.

Pablo, 64, is previously the District Tax Manager of the State of Hawaii for Maui, Lanai and Molokai; Tax Attache for the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Paris and Bonn, Germany.

A St. Louis High School graduate, Pablo is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the State of Hawaii and holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree of Business Administration from UH-Manoa.

SUNSHINE TOPPING (DHRD) has 15 years of human resources management experience, primarily in the high technology sector. She is Director of Human Resources for Sandwich Isles Communications, a Native Hawaiian owned and operated telecommunications firm.

Topping has a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designation. Prior to this, Ms. Topping was Director of Human Resources and Ethics at NovaSol from 2004 to 2007.

Topping, 40, was born and raised in Keaukaha, on the Big Island. She graduated from Hilo High School, received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and attended the UH-Manoa graduate school to study social work.

SEN. RUSSELL KOKUBUN (Ag Chairman) is currently the Chairman of the Water and Land Committee of the Hawaii State Senate.

Kokubun, who represents Hilo, Puna and Ka‘u, has previously served in numerous leadership positions including as Vice President of the Senate, Chair of the Water, Land, Agriculture and Hawaiian Affairs Committee, Chair of the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Task Force and Chair of the Commerce, Consumer Protection and Affordable Housing Committee.

Kokubun, 62, was appointed to the State Senate in 2000, was subsequently elected in 2002 and re-elected this year. His prior experience includes being elected to the Hawaii County Council in 1984 and as Chair of the County Council from 1988 to 1992.

Graduating from Punahou School in 1966, Sen. Kokubun went on to receive his Bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University in 1971.

JIMMY NAKATANI (Ag Deputy) began his involvement in agriculture with his family watercress farm, Nakatani Farms, Inc. as its owner and Chief Executive Officer from 1978 to 1994.

Nakatani later became the President of the Hawaii Farm Bureau and served as Director of the state Agriculture Department from 1995 to 2003. Nakatani is the Chief Executive Officer of James J. Nakatani, LLC, which provides broad-based services on business and governmental issues.

Nakatani, 61, a graduate of Waipahu High School, received his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration/Management from UH-Manoa.

GUY KAULUKUKUI (DLNR Deputy) is the Associate Director for Strategic Partnerships at The Kohala Center, a research, education, and policy institute on Hawaii Island that focuses on food self-reliance, energy independence and ecosystem health.

Prior to that, Kaulukukui was a visiting professor of economics at UH-Hilo, senior adviser and chief of staff to Honolulu City Council Chairman Todd Apo, and Vice President for Cultural Studies at the Bishop Museum.

Kaulukukui, 50, graduated from Kamehameha Schools and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from UH-Manoa, Master’s of Business Administration from Hawaii Pacific University and a Ph.D. in Economics Education from the University of Kansas.

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