These four Hawai‘i women prove that women are more than capable to be front-and-center and lead-in a few male dominated fields, no less. First, take Joyce Okano. While fashion may seem to be a strictly ladies-only world, those in leadership roles have mostly been men. However, it’s no surprise that the Chanel tapped Okano as its regional vice president in the mid-’80s. Now retired from that position, she’s now the president of The Friends of the Hawai‘i State Art Museum (FHiSAM), continuing her arts advocacy in Hawai‘i that she started at Chanel. Second, the idea of a craft brewer complete with a scruff and brawny biceps is turned on its head when one meets Kim Brisson-Lutz, Brewmaster at Maui Brewing Co. The Maui native’s concoctions are so good, they’ve garnered awards for the ale organization. Back on O‘ahu, once people meet Katie Fuqua, they’ll definitely want to “play like a girl.” The head pro at Ko Olina Golf Club has been golfing most of her life, cutting her teeth in the sport as varsity player in high school, assistant golf coach at UH and quickly worked her way up at Ko Olina Golf Club. And, there’s probably no tougher place for a woman to make headway into leadership than in a police department. Chief Susan Ballard is poised to right the ship, so to speak, at the Honolulu Police Department—early days show that her perspective on things seem to be making a difference …
For more than three decades, Joyce Okano served as the regional vice president for the West Coast/Pacific at Chanel. In fact, Okano was recruited to open the first freestanding Chanel boutique in the U.S. right here in Honolulu in 1984 and stood at the helm until her retirement in 2016. But throughout her time at Chanel, Okano made it a point to fuse her predilection for the arts into her retail realm. “Coco Chanel was a huge patron of the arts, from Diaghilev, Cocteau to Stravinsky, and Chanel’s corporate DNA supported the arts, which was also a personal hobby of mine,” Okano shares. In fact, Okano was responsible for starting the Gallery at Chanel, occupying the third floor of the Waikiki store to showcase Hawai‘i artists. And her support for Hawai‘i’s artists has only grown since. After retiring from Chanel, Okano joined FHiSAM as a board member and became its president last summer in June. Her goal? “I want Hawai‘i to become and be known as an important art travel destination, as well as a place where artists and art careers can flourish—partnering the many culture and art organizations to collaborate with each other and public and private sector to joint market each other.” Okano has more than a few projects brewing that are scheduled to unveil in the coming months. Find out more on sfca.hawaii.gov/hisam.
Brewmaster Kim Brisson-Lutz says that Maui Brewing Co. (mauibrewingco. com) owner, Garrett Marrero, jokes that when she spent her four years away from the Valley Isle brewery she “went away to college.” Seems appropriate enough. While she started her career at J Lohr Winery in California, she fell in love with home brewing. Soon, she was at MBC, learning all she could about craft brewing, moving up to Lead Brewer in three years. During that time, one of her recipes, for the La Perouse White Witbier, a Belgian ale, won MBC the Silver at the Great American Beer Festival in 2010 and a Bronze at the World Beer Cup in 2012. Brisson-Lutz’s desire to hone her craft took her to San Diego, one of the toughest places to prove oneself in the industry. There, she was Lead Brewer at Saint Archer Brewing Company before returning to her home at Maui Brewing Co., where she’s now committed to focusing “on quality and innovation.”
Over on the West Side, Katie Fuqua has been serving as head golf professional at Ko Olina Golf Club since October 2017—the first female to hold the position at the club. “My passion and love for the game of golf started at a very young age from my father, Rick,” she says. Fuqua grew up in Cheney, a little town outside of Spokane, Washington and was exposed to golf early on thanks to her dad. A varsity player at 14, Fuqua has made her way around the golf circuit both competing nationally as well as coaching. She moved to Hawai‘i in 2013 to be an assistant golf coach at the University of Hawai‘i, Manoa as a volunteer. While volunteering at UH Manoa, she met a number of female golf greats, including Mary Bea Porter King, founder of the Hawai‘i State Junior Golf Association (HSJGA). Fuqua eventually found herself working at Ko Olina’s golf department in May 2016 as the first assistant golf professional and quickly moved up the ranks to head pro less than two years later. “I still have my passion for teaching/coaching the game,” Fuqua says. “I continue to volunteer my time with HSJGA … I have been the assistant captain for the past two years at the Girls Junior Americas Cup and will be the Head Captain for 2018 … Coaching is a passion of mine, perhaps that is why I love what I do so much. Managing and coaching have many similarities.”
Sworn in last November, Honolulu Police Department police chief Susan Ballard has the unenviable task of changing the public perception of the beleaguered department. As HPD’s first female chief, she has admitted that she felt some resistance earlier in her career to the idea of a woman rising through the ranks. But, if there’s a challenge in her new position, it’s one that the 32-year-veteran of the force seems more than capable to conquer. Her background with the department has spanned the Narcotics/Vice and Criminal Investigation divisions, the patrol district of Downtown-Chinatown and she also served as commander of the Kane‘ohe and Kalihi patrol districts. As far as re-building the community’s trust in the department, her bio states that her priorities include “rebuilding public trust, preventing and solving crime and recruiting and retaining quality employees.” Other stated priorities include “expanding police programs for the young and elderly.”