Goodwill Hawaii today announced president and CEO Laura Smith will retire on June 30, 2020, after 38 years of service to the organization. Current COO Katy Chen will act as co-president with Smith until July 1, 2020, at which time she will assume the position of president and CEO as elected by the Goodwill Hawaii Board of Directors.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we’d like to thank Laura for her nearly four decades of leadership at Goodwill Hawaii,” said Gwen Pacarro, Goodwill Hawaii board chair. “Laura has dedicated her life’s work to improving the lives of Hawaii’s most disadvantaged populations, and we wish her all the best as she enters this new chapter of retirement. The Board has put together a well thought out plan to ensure a seamless transition, and we are confident in Katy’s abilities to lead the organization into the future.”
During Smith’s 38 years with the organization, Goodwill has become a $35-million social enterprise that includes Goodwill Hawaii, Goodwill Contract Services Hawaii and Kapolei Charter School. When she became CEO in 1994, Goodwill served 400 people in its job training programs on Oahu. Today, the organization provides more then 10,000 people statewide a year with free training and job placements leading to self-sufficiency. In addition, Goodwill Hawaii’s Kapolei Charter School is set to celebrate its first high school graduating class in 2021.
Smith joined Goodwill Hawaii in 1982 as director of rehabilitation and was named president and CEO in 1994. Through her leadership, she expanded Goodwill’s economic engine into a diverse network statewide of 13 retail stores, 20 donation centers, and service programs to provide employment opportunities for people with employment barriers. She also focused on building a solid financial foundation through the development of long-term assets such as the Kapolei Career and Learning Center and the soon-to-be-completed Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Honolulu Career and Learning Center.
“I’m proud of the work we’ve done and continue to do to empower people who face challenges, giving them the opportunity to start fresh and gain the job training and job placement services they need in order to become independent” Smith said. “It has truly been my privilege to help make a difference in our community, and I’m excited for Katy to step into this role with her proven leadership experience and unwavering passion for and commitment to our mission.”
Chen has served as COO of Goodwill Hawaii since 2014, overseeing nearly $16 million in annual federal, state and county funding in employment, training and education programs. Before that, she served as chief executive/executive director of PATCH – People Attentive to Children, a statewide social services agency specializing in early childhood education and care. Prior to working in the not-for-profit sector, Chen practiced corporate law in Honolulu.
Added Chen, “To be given this opportunity to lead Goodwill Hawaii is an honor, and I look forward to building on Laura’s legacy of innovation, collaboration and service. I’m excited to take on this increased responsibility, as we continue to serve our community and look to double our service delivery in the greater Honolulu metro area with the opening of our new Honolulu Career and Learning Center later this year.”
For more than 60 years Goodwill Hawaii has been serving the state with a variety of employment and training programs. Each year, the not-for-profit organization provides job training, education and placement services for more than 10,000 at-risk youth, adults with disabilities, low-income families, people transitioning out of incarceration, immigrants and others with employment challenges. Other services include financial education, tax filing assistance and transportation. Operations are funded with income generated by its retail services.