Bishop Museum seeks new CEO

The chief financial officer will serve during the executive search

Honolulu Star-Bulletin
Friday, December 22, 2006

By Gene Park

The Bishop Museum is seeking a new chief executive officer -- a search that could last between three months and a year.

The museum announced the formation of its executive search committee, made up of prominent local civic and business leaders, and that it had hired a California-based search firm.

Current President and CEO William Brown departs next month. The museum's chief financial officer, Michael Chinaka, will take his place in the interim.

Chinaka has been with the museum for more than 20 years, and Brown called him a "solid force for stability during the interim."

"He's from Hawaii, and already his basic job is to watch the finances and expenses," Brown said. "And he supervises a lot of activities. I'm confident Mike will provide stable and effective leadership, and he's well respected by the staff."

The search firm for the permanent CEO, Morris & Berger, met with employees, trustees, senior executives and others yesterday to get feedback on qualities the next museum CEO should have.

"We selected Morris & Berger because they have a special sensitivity for working with diverse constituencies, and for the collaborative and consensus-oriented decision-making process of nonprofit organizations, said Charman Akina, a trustee and chairman of the search committee.

Brown, who has been the museum's chief for five years, butted heads with several native Hawaiian groups over a set of native Hawaiian artifacts that was given to the group Hui Malama and later recovered after the museum and the group were sued by other groups.

Brown and Hui Malama President Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell agreed that the next museum CEO must have the intelligence and sensitivity to work with native cultures.

"It can't be governed as a local institution," said Brown, "and it can't be governed entirely as an international (museum) without local roots."

Maxwell said that although a CEO with native Hawaiian ancestry is preferred, the leader should have great respect for Hawaiian culture and a great understanding of indigenous cultures, Hawaiian or otherwise.

"If that person can know the indigenous cultural values of any land, I think it would be a plus," Maxwell said. "To me the degree doesn't matter, it's the knowledge and spiritual guidance."

Brown is leaving to become the president of Philadelphia's Academy of Natural Sciences. He moves to the East Coast in April.

The decision to resign from the Bishop Museum was both professional and personal, to be closer to his wife and children, he said.

During Brown's tenure the museum eliminated its annual operating deficit, and has a majority of native Hawaiians as trustees for the first time in its history.

"What I'm hoping is that the next person will keep it rolling that way, keep it politically stabilized," Brown said. "For me it was hard for a while, but that part's passed. I really had fun the past couple of years."

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