JEFFREY WATANABE

Episode 65

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Jeffrey Watanabe – Partner Watanabe Ing and Komeiji LLP, Director Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation, Chairman of Hawaiian Electric Industries, Board of Hawaii Community Foundation, Trustee of Punahou School

Jeff Watanabe can be perceived to be the most powerful man in Hawaii—if you consider his position as chairman of the board of Hawaiian Electric Industries, which supplies 93 per cent of the State’s energy to electric utility companies.

And his position in the company is just one of his many roles as member of the board of 16 for-profit and four non-profit organizations. Jeff Watanabe also plays a role as an entrepreneur. He and his colleagues put together their own law firm in 1971–this, straight out of law school. At this time, Watanabe Ing. and Komeiji Llc was the youngest of its kind which went head-to-head with the five biggest law firms in the state.

Watanabe’s first experience with the non-profit sector came at the age of 27–and like anything else that offers pleasure, he became hooked on community involvement and the fact that he is making a difference outside the entrepreneurial realm.

Watanabe talks about the phenomenal ‘generational change’ where people are more apt to try different things, taking risks and grabbing opportunities along the way. The tumultuous events of the 60s, the changing economic landscape of Hawaii and the influence of J.F. Kennedy to the young people have basically galvanized Watanabe et al to start their own law firm rather than join existing law firms at the time.

He claims that another generation change is taking place where young people are becoming more active in community involvement and social entrepreneurship.

His numerous membership in different organizational boards stems from his involvement in the non-profit sector. In this interview, he says that one qualification for sitting on a for-profit board is involvement in non-profit organizations particularly in Hawaii.

BIO:
Jeffrey Watanabe

Partner and principal Jeffrey N. Watanabe has been with the law firm since 1971. His practice concentrates mainly in hotel and resort development, communications, and general corporate law.

Mr. Watanabe received his Bachelor of Arts in 1965 from the University of California at Berkeley. His Juris Doctor was granted in 1968 from George Washington University Law Center in Washington, D.C.

Prior to joining the firm, he was Deputy Attorney General for the State of Hawaii, assigned to the Antitrust Division, 1968-69, and the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, 1969-70. He also served as the State’s Chief Counsel in matters before federal agencies.

Mr. Watanabe is widely active in business as well as community affairs. He is a director of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., American Savings Bank, First Insurance Company of Hawaii, Ltd., Grace Pacific Corporation, Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc., Loea Communications Corporation, Matson Navigation Company, Inc., MidWeek Printing/Oahu Publications, Inc., and Oceanic Time Warner Cable.

He serves on the board of trustees of the Consuelo Foundation, the Hawaii Community Foundation, HEI Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Punahou School, Sesame Workshop based in New York and a variety of other civic and nonprofit organizations. He is a member of the American and Hawaii Bar Associations.

PERSONAL DATA

Place of Birth:
Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND

Roosevelt High School, Honolulu, Hawaii
Graduated – 1961

University of California at Berkeley
B.A. – 1965

George Washington University Law Center
J.D. – 1968

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND

Deputy Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
1968 – 1970

Managing Partner
Watanabe Ing & Komeiji LLP
1970 – Present

MILITARY SERVICE

U. S. Army Reserves
322nd Civil Affairs Group
(Honorable Discharge)

MEMBERSHIPS AND DIRECTORSHIPS

Memberships:

American Bar Association Waialae Country Club
Hawaii Bar Association Pacific Club
East-West Center Foundation
Japan Hawaii Economic Council
Hawaii Executive Conference

Directorships:

For Profit Corporations:

Since
2003 Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. – Member, Board of Directors,
Honolulu, Hawaii
1987 American Savings Bank – Member, Board of
Directors, Honolulu, Hawaii
2005 Cellular Bioengineering, Inc. – Member, Board of
Directors, Honolulu, Hawaii
1997 First Insurance Company of Hawaii, Ltd. – Member,
Board of Directors, Honolulu, Hawaii
1983 Grace Pacific Corporation and affiliates – Member,
Board of Directors, Honolulu, Hawaii
1999 Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. – Member, Board of
Directors, Honolulu, Hawaii
1987 Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. – Member, Board of
Directors, Honolulu, Hawaii
2002 Loea Communications Corporation – Member, Board of
Directors, Hawaii
2003 Matson Navigation Company, Inc. – Member, Board of
Directors, San Francisco, California
2002 Mid-Week Printing, Inc./Oahu Publications, Inc.
(The Honolulu Star-Bulletin) – Member, Board of Directors,
Honolulu, Hawaii
1995 Oceanic Cablevision – Member, Board of Advisors,
Honolulu, Hawaii
2003 Tissue Genesis, Inc. – Member, Board of Directors,
Honolulu, Hawaii
2003 The Westye Group – Member, Board of Advisors,
Honolulu, Hawaii
2005 Trex Enterprises Corporation – Member, Board of
Directors, San Diego, California

Not-for-Profit Corporations:

Since
1991 Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation – Board of Directors,
Chairman, Honolulu, Hawaii and Makati, Philippines
2001 Hawaii Community Foundation – Board of Governors,
Honolulu, Hawaii
1989 Hawaiian Electric Industries Foundation – Honolulu, Hawaii
1998 Punahou School – Trustee, Honolulu, Hawaii
1982 Sesame Workshop – Board of Trustees, New York, New York
1988 The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii – Trustee, Honolulu, Hawaii

EMPLOYMENT BACKGROUND

1966 – 1968 Office of Senator Daniel K. Inouye

1968 – 1969 Deputy Attorney General for the State of Hawaii assigned to the Antitrust Division of the Office of the Attorney General

1969 – 1970 Chief counsel for the State of Hawaii before federal transportation agencies including the Civil Aeronautics Board, Federal Maritime Commission, and the Federal Maritime Administration

1970 – present Managing Partner, law firm of Watanabe Ing & Komeiji LLP. Representation of law firm clients in the overall development, coordination and implementation of corporate strategies dealing with crisis management, regulatory environments, as well as community and political interrelationships.

Areas of practice include government affairs, the airline industry, hotel/resort development, telecommunications and passenger cruise operations.

Links:
Watanabe Ing and Komeiji LLP

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Episode 65