Lisa Kitagawa is a fourth generation Japanese American, whose great-grandparents came to Hawaiʻi to work on the plantations and create a better life for themselves and their families. In the 1960s, all of Lisa’s grandparents (paternal and maternal) moved to Kāneʻohe, where they and their families have continued to call the Windward community their home for almost 60 years.
Lisa and her sister, Mari, were raised by a single mother, who worked tirelessly to provide for their needs and education. Lisa’s mother was a DOE Windward District elementary school educator who retired after 30 years of service. Lisa learned the values of hard work, perseverance, and service to others through her grandparents’ and mother’s actions and words. The importance of family and education were also values Lisa learned from an early age.
Lisa attended Benjamin Parker Elementary School, King Intermediate School and Castle High School. She completed both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, where she graduated with distinction with a Bachelor of Science degree in Family Resources and a Minor in Speech, and a Masters degree in Higher Education Administration.
After graduating with her Master’s degree, she worked professionally at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa as both a faculty member in student affairs and as a student services specialist for the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). As a faculty member, she taught leadership development courses, mentored students and coordinated UH’s New Student Programs, orienting over 2,000 students and parents/family members each year. She was also responsible for CTAHR’s academic advising, scholarships, recruitment, and co-curricular activities. All of these experiences at the University have provided her with opportunities to develop and strengthen her leadership skills, work effectively with diverse groups, and achieve tangible solutions to problems.
She has had experience working at the State Legislature as the Office Manager to Representative Aaron Ling Johanson, who serves as the Chair of the Labor and Public Employment Committee. Lisa has first-hand experience in the legislative process, as well as working effectively with colleagues, organizations and constituents.
Lisa has always been involved in her community. For most of her youth, she danced hula for Kāneʻohe’s Keolalaulani Halau Hula ʻOlapa O Laka and volunteered countless hours for numerous service organizations at Castle High School and UH Mānoa. She currently attends Mountain View Community Church in Kāneʻohe, is President of Benjamin Parker Elementary School’s ʻOhana (PTA) where her daughter just finished kindergarten, is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Kāneʻohe, is a member of the Koʻolaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club, and a member of the Castle Alumni/Community Association. She is also a volunteer with the Kāneʻohe Community Family Center and the Cherry Blossom Festival (Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce).
Lisa has been married to her husband, Justin Akagi, for almost ten years and they have two children together. Maia-Joy is 6 years old and a soon-to-be first grader at Benjamin Parker Elementary School and Noah is 4 years old and a preschooler at Rainbow School in Kāneʻohe.