Categorized | Opinions

Opinion: Lingle promotes, inspires women leaders

The following letter was issued Wednesday, April 14:

Recent criticism of Gov. Linda Lingle’s record of appointing women is completely off base, misinformed and political.

When Lingle appoints an individual, she does not use a quota system as some such as the Hawaii Democratic Women’s Caucus and Democrat legislators appear to be advocating. Instead, she evaluates each candidate based on his or her expertise, qualifications, overall experience, and above all what that person can contribute to improving our state.

Using this criteria, Lingle appointed the eight of us – women from different parts of our community to serve in her cabinet. The governor selected us from an unlimited pool of candidates – women and men – statewide. She was not limited to a small list that is prepared by a commission or council, like she is when appointing judges or university regents.

We are proud to serve along with nine women deputy directors, and the hundreds of qualified women Lingle has appointed to state boards and commissions over the past seven-and-a-half years.

Beyond appointing women to positions of leadership, Lingle is committed to inspiring emerging women leaders as well as mentoring the next generation. For the past six years, she has brought thousands of women together at the annual International Women’s Leadership Conference to network with and hear inspirational stories from women leaders across the globe to help them excel in meeting their personal goals, overcome challenges as well as become leaders in the community.

The governor has also devoted significant time and energy to helping women turn their lives around. She has worked personally with women inmates and clients of the Women’s Community Correctional Center and T.J. Mahoney’s, young women from the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility and the state’s homeless shelters to give them the tools they need to gain a better life for themselves and their families.

She is also one of the strongest advocates for encouraging young women to enter fields traditionally dominated by men, such as science, technology, engineering and math. In the political arena, Lingle has encouraged women statewide to put their proverbial hat in the ring. Her leadership as Hawaii’s first female Governor has influenced the political aspirations of many.

Lingle demonstrates that elevating women to positions of leadership is more than just appointing them when a vacancy occurs.

Signed,

Sandra Lee Kunimoto, Director, Dept. of Agriculture
Georgina Kawamura, Director, Dept. Budget and Finance
Chiyome Fukino, M.D., Director, Dept. of Health
Marie Laderta, Director, Dept. of Human Resources Development
Lillian Koller, Director, Dept. of Human Services
Laura Thielen, Director, Dept. of Land and Natural Resources
Marsha Wienert, State Tourism Liaison
Linda Smith, Senior Policy Advisor

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